For the first time in it’s 34-year history, Austin’s SXSW festival was forced to cancel on Friday (March 6). Due to the growing threat of coronavirus, Austin Mayor Steve Adler and city officials declared a local disaster in the city and announced the cancellation of one of music’s biggest annual events.
“Based on the recommendation of our public health officer and our director of public health, and after consultation with the city manager, I have gone ahead and declared a local disaster in the city. And associated with that, have issued an order that effectively cancels SXSW for this year,” Adler said at a press conference earlier this afternoon.
The festival was set to kick off in a week with screenings, showcases and panels scheduled between March 13-22.
The long-running annual event has grown to provide roughly $350 million in revenue for the city of Austin every year and its cancellation was met with varying degrees of humor and concern for the all the independent artists and venues impacted by the decision.
Below are a mix of some of the first reactions to the news.
.@sxsw getting cancelled is the holy shit moment of holy shit moments
— Evan Smith (@evanasmith) March 6, 2020
frank ocean seeing SXSW get cancelled over coronavirus knowing coachella might be next pic.twitter.com/6bMiOvC8i5
— giabuchi (@jaboukie) March 6, 2020
Since SXSW in cancelled, Austin shoud think about using the week to start up some sort of independent underground music and film festival free of corporate influence w lots of bands playing in small venues all accross the city. Could be big if they kept it up
— PFT Commenter (@PFTCommenter) March 6, 2020
"Should SXSW 2020 Have Been Cancelled?" almost certainly will be the title of a panel discussion at SXSW 2021.
— Mike Finger (@mikefinger) March 6, 2020
I think we all knew the writing was on the wall when Ozzy Osborne, who once bit the head off a live bat, was too afraid to come to #SXSW.
— Omar L. Gallaga (@omarg) March 6, 2020
If you're cheering #SXSW being canceled simply because you hate the traffic or whatever, you're being a dick. Local small businesses could *go* *under.* Artists (not the famous ones!) have busted their asses to showcase their work and get their shot there.
Just … just shush.
— Jessica Shortall🧂🥴 (@jessicashortall) March 6, 2020
Hey Austin! Remember to tip your bartenders, waiters, cashiers, and other service workers a bit more the next few weeks because they are going to be hurt the most with #SXSW cancelled
— Taylor Barnett (@taylor_atx) March 6, 2020