SXSW Conference Canceled Over Coronavirus Concerns

The show won’t go on.

South By Southwest, the annual tech, film, and music conference in Austin, Texas, has been canceled due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus outbreak. The decision, announced by city authorities on Friday, came just two days after Austin public health officials said the event could proceed as planned.

“We are devastated to share this news with you ‘The show must go on’ is in our DNA and this is the first time in 34 years that the March event will not take place,” SXSW organizers said in a statement. “We are now working through the ramifications of this unprecedented situation.”

The two-week conference and festival, which was scheduled to kick off March 13, has drawn more than 417,000 visitors from 106 countries and brought $356 million to Austin’s economy. Prior to the announcement, many participants had already pulled out including Twitter, Facebook, Apple, and the major record labels.

SXSW is already exploring options to reschedule the conference, as well as providing a virtual online experience for 2020 participants. “We will continue to work hard to bring you the unique events you love,” said organizers. “Though it’s true that our March 2020 event will no longer take place in the way that we intended, we continue to strive toward our purpose – helping creative people achieve their goals.”

SXSW is the latest casualty of the coronavirus. Earlier this week, Miami’s Ultra Music Festival was canceled and artists including Mariah Carey, Khalid, and BTS have canceled shows as a result. All eyes are now turning to the next major event, Coachella, which is scheduled to be held April 10-12 and April 17-19 in Indio, Calif.

“What we’re hearing from Coachella is that it’s on,” one prominent artist manager told Forbes. “But we have $1-2 million in production costs already sunk in that the artist would be responsible for … we’re not finding any insurance companies who will cover our risk of cancellation due to [coronavirus]. I’m holding off on spending any more until we see how this it plays out.”