For many indie artists, playing SXSW is a bucket-list item. Unfortunately, the handful of Denver bands that were scheduled to play the Texas fest just received bad news: The City of Austin has canceled the 2020 festival over concerns about the coronavirus.
This will be the first time since it was started 34 years ago that SXSW won't happen. And it's just the latest in a string of music events, including Ultra Music Festival in Miami, to announce that they're canceling in 2020 out of concern for public health.
"We are exploring options to reschedule the event and are working to provide a virtual SXSW online experience as soon as possible for 2020 participants, starting with SXSW EDU," the festival announced in a statement released March 6, as the city revealed its decision. "For our registrants, clients and participants, we will be in touch as soon as possible and will publish an FAQ."
"This festival season is in for a rough ride," says Dressy Bessy's John Hill. "We're very disappointed because it takes considerable effort to organize SXSW, and we were doing other Texas shows through the ten days. We're now looking at rescheduling the Texas dates in June, but being so late now, that will also be a monumental effort."
Here's the statement from SXSW:
City of Austin Cancels SXSW March Events
The City of Austin has cancelled the March dates for SXSW and SXSW EDU. SXSW will faithfully follow the City’s directions.
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.
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 do our part to help protect our staff, attendees, and fellow Austinites.
We are exploring options to reschedule the event and are working to provide a virtual SXSW online experience as soon as possible for 2020 participants, starting with SXSW EDU. For our registrants, clients, and participants we will be in touch as soon as possible and will publish an FAQ.
We understand the gravity of the situation for all the creatives who utilize SXSW to accelerate their careers; 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.
We will continue to work hard to bring you the unique events you love. 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.
Nate Cook of the Yawpers had concerns about SXSW that went beyond the coronavirus.
"I think I’m far more likely to drink myself to death down there," he wrote Westword shortly before the cancellation announcement. "That said, I’m not amped on the idea [of the festival happening] from a public health perspective."
And now, it's not.