The organizers of South by Southwest, desperately hoping to hold the March event in the face of a coronavirus outbreak, said Friday that the city of Austin, Texas, canceled the conference.
Event planners scrapped the music, tech and film conference, set to begin March 13, after local health officials declared a health emergency.
“We are devastated to share this news with you,” a statement read on the SXSW website. “‘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.”
The massive, weeklong festival previously drew some 70,000 people to Austin. This is the first cancellation in the event’s 34-year history.
Apple pulled out before SXSW canceled
Apple pulled out of the event two days ago. The company previously planned to premiere three new Apple TV+ original shows at the 2020 SXSW Film Festival. The lineup reportedly included Spike Jonze’s documentary Beastie Boys Story, the docuseries Home and animated comedy Central Park. Apple also planned to host a discussion of its well-reviewed show about U.S. immigrants, Little America.
Other companies including Twitter, HBO, Amazon Studios, Facebook, TikTok, Panasonic, SAP and Intel also backed out of attending SXSW in the past two weeks. Apple has yet to say if it will cancel this year’s Worldwide Developers Conference, which typically takes place in June.
Not long before Austin called off the event, a petition to cancel SXSW began circulating on Change.org.
SXSW organizers said they are exploring rescheduling or offering an online event this year.
“We understand the gravity of the situation for all the creatives who utilize SXSW to accelerate their careers,” the statement read, “[and] for the global businesses; and for Austin and the hundreds of small businesses – venues, theatres, vendors, production companies, service industry staff, and other partners that rely so heavily on the increased business that SXSW attracts.”