The South by Southwest conference on music, film and technology is the latest victim of coronavirus problems.
The city of Austin declared a local disaster on Friday that will prevent the event from taking place, Austin mayor Steve Adler said at a press conference, although there have been no cases. confirmed virus in the Austin area.
SXSW, as it is called, had vowed to continue, despite recent developer conferences that were canceled by Facebook and Amazon.
SXSW managers described themselves as “devastated” by this development.
“It is the first time in 34 years that the March event will not take place,” the company said in a statement. “We are currently working on the ramifications of this unprecedented situation.”
This year’s conference brought together several high-profile speakers, including former presidential candidates Hillary Rodham Clinton, Beto O’Rourke and Andrew Yang and Steve Jobs’ widow Laurene Powell Jobs and rockers Ozzy Osbourne, director Judd Apatow and Kim Kardashian West. Almost 300,000 people participated in 2019.
The 10-day festival was scheduled to start on March 13.
Dropouts:Fears of the coronavirus have canceled technical conferences, concerts, sports and more. Here is a list.
Festival organizers have been saying for days that they would not cancel, on the advice of local officials, who assured them that the Austin health service had approved.
Many companies had pulled out of SXSW, including Twitter, Facebook, Apple, IBM and Netflix and there has been a lot of local debate over the organizer’s decisions to continue.
In addition, a petition on Change.org describing SXSW as “irresponsible in the event of an epidemic” and asking for its cancellation this year had collected around 55,000 signatures during the last check.
Beyond the losses for the festival, Texas Monthly points out that caterers, drivers, bartenders and servers, technicians and security personnel, as well as many others, rely on SXSW, the biggest event of the year in Austin, to pay their bills.
Austin public health officials previously supported SXSW’s decision to continue, saying the cancellation of the festival would not have made the city safer from the virus.
But Dr. Mark Escott, acting medical director and health authority at Austin Public Health, said Friday that there is now evidence that authorization by SXSW could accelerate the spread of the coronavirus.
Follow Jefferson Graham of USA TODAY (@jeffersongraham) on Twitter