The festival, which was slated to be held from March 13 to March 21, is intended to bring together musicians, speakers, government figures, comedians and others from all around the globe.
“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. We are now working through the ramifications of this unprecedented situation,” a press release said.
“As recently as Wednesday, Austin Public Health stated that ‘there’s no evidence that closing SXSW or any other gatherings will make the community safer.’ However, this situation evolved rapidly, and we honor and respect the City of Austin’s decision. We are committed to doing our part to help protect our staff, attendees and fellow Austinites,” stated the release.
Austin Mayor Steve Adler held a press conference on Friday (March 6) and said that “based on the recommendation of our public health officer and director of public health, and after consultation with the city manager, I’ve gone ahead and declared a local disaster in the city, and associated with that, have issued an order that effectively cancels SXSW.”
Festival organizers said they were exploring options for rescheduling and could potentially provide an online experience.
Other industries are facing their own repercussions from the outbreak, as Mastercard was forced to close offices in Sao Paulo and New York when an employee was diagnosed with the virus. Earlier in the week, the employee traveled to an office in Purchase, New York from the Sao Paulo office. Both locations were undergoing a sanitation process, and any employees who came into contact with the infected person were asked to work from home for two weeks.