SXSW 2020 Has Been Cancelled Due to Coronavirus

It's the first time in 34 years that the huge annual music and film festival won't take place.
Sarah Ward
Published on March 07, 2020

Every year since 1987, when March rolls around, the Texan city of Austin becomes a hive of activity for fans of film, music, creativity, culture, technology and everything in-between. That's no longer the case in 2020, however, with this year's South By Southwest now cancelled for the first time in the event's 34-year history.

In the same week that new Bond movie No Time to Die had its release date pushed back from April to November, the reason for SXSW's cancellation is obvious, with concerns mounting about the effect of the coronavirus COVID-19 — especially in such a busy, public, highly populated space as a large-scale, highly attended music and film fest. SXSW organisers scrapped the 2020 event after the City of Austin basically made the decision for them. "The City of Austin has cancelled the March dates for SXSW and SXSW EDU. SXSW will faithfully follow the City's directions," the festival announced in a statement.

With SXSW 2020 due to take place next week from Friday, March 13–Sunday, March 22, speculation that the event wouldn't go ahead had been mounting over the past few days. In fact, a petition calling for the fest's cancellation due to the coronavirus outbreak received more than 55,000 signatures. Before the event was officially canned, plenty of high-profile parties had already dropped out of attending the festival — including Amazon, Netflix and Apple, all of whom had scrapped screenings of upcoming films and TV shows; music groups like Sony, Universal and Warner Music; and speakers and guests such as Trent Reznor, the Beastie Boys and Ozzy Osbourne.

Shelley Hiam

SXSW's powers that be are currently exploring their options — to either reschedule this year's event, or provide a "virtual SXSW online experience".

It's highly unlikely that this is the last time that COVID-19 will have this effect on the entertainment industry. Large swathes of cinemas have been temporarily shuttered in China, Iran, South Korea, Japan, Italy and France; theme parks have been closed in Shanghai, Hong Kong and Tokyo; and the latest Mission: Impossible movie shut down its production in Venice. Music tours have been cancelled throughout Asia, too, and plenty of questions hang over forthcoming events elsewhere in the world — such as Coachella in April and the Cannes Film Festival in May.

To find out more about the status of COVID-19 in Australia and how to protect yourself, head to the Australian Government Department of Health's website.

Top image: David Brendan Hall.

Published on March 07, 2020 by Sarah Ward
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