March 10, 2020 monokrome

SXSW Announces Layoffs Amid 2020 Event Cancellation

The outdoor stage at last year’s SXSW Festival – Photo by David Brendan Hall.

On March 6, it was announced that this year’s SXSW festival in Austin, Texas, had been cancelled amid concerns of the spread of the coronavirus outbreak.  Festival organisers initially resisted calls to call off the 2020 edition of the mega-showcase festival, however, Austin city officials ordered that the event not go ahead. This marks the first time in 34 years that the March event will not be taking place, and the ramifications for both musicians and the festival organisers themselves are beginning to come to fruition with SXSW laying off roughly a third of their 175 year-round staff members.

Speaking to local paper, the Austin Statesman, SXSW LLC said that the company “has been rigorously reviewing our operations, and we are in the unimaginable position of reducing our workforce.” This comes after reports that SXSW could be facing losses in the tens of millions in the wake of the cancellation.

In addition to the loss in revenue that SXSW LLC is facing, the company gave a statement to the Austin Chronicle saying their insurance did not cover the cause of cancellation. “We have a lot of insurance (terrorism, injury, property destruction, weather),” the statement begins, “however, bacterial infections, communicable diseases, viruses and pandemics are not covered.”

SXSW isn’t the only music event to be cancelled to in the wake of the Covid-19 outbreak, as the Winter Music Conference in Miami has also been called off as of Monday (9th March). It joins the Miami Ultra Festival as the second music event in the city to be scrapped this month after Florida governor Ron Desantis declared a state of emergency on Monday.

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