The spread of coronavirus has led to the cancellation of one of the most major cultural events yet: The City of Austin has announced that it is canceling South by Southwest this year amid fears about the disease. Austin mayor Steve Adler announced the news Friday afternoon and SXSW put out a statement on its website, noting that this is the first time in 34 years that the March event will not take place. “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 statement reads. “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.”
Previously, Amazon Studios, TikTok, Facebook, AMC, Twitter, NBC, and other companies canceled planned appearances at the event, which was set to run from March 13 to 22. As of Friday, 17 coronavirus cases have been confirmed in Texas. Numerous other cultural events have been canceled or postponed due to the virus, including concerts, other festivals, and major film releases.