In case you were one of the many who had a ticket to Austin next week and were planning to go to South By Southwest, you're not now.
As was predicted by many earlier this week, organizers of the South by Southwest festival have been forced to call off the 34th annual iteration of the event by local officials in Austin — it had been reported earlier that organizers were holding off canceling themselves because collecting insurance on their losses will be easier. The New York Times reports that this is now the biggest casualty of the coronavirus in terms of the cultural calendar, after more than 50,000 people signed a petition to call off the event, and multiple high-profile tech companies including Facebook had pulled out.
Despite the fact that there are still no confirmed cases of the virus in Austin, Mayor Steve Adler gave a press conference Friday declaring a local disaster and forcing the cancellation of SXSW. "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, I've issued an order that effectively cancels SXSW for this year," Adler said.
This is the first time in 34 years that the multifaceted, mid-March festival will not go on, and with events going on for 10 days across venues all over the city, this is likely to have a huge impact on Austin's local economy. The festival counted 417,000 attendees in 2019.
But with the first weekend of Coachella now just five weeks away, one has to assume that organizers there are pretty nervous. Forbes reports that "the music industry is already buzzing" about what the next casualties could be, event-wise, as coronavirus panic grips the nation.
One anonymous artist manager tells Forbes that individual shows are starting to be canceled by promoters, and artists are canceling flights into LA to record. "We’re beginning to see it affect the entire music ecosystem,” this person said.