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The Show Will Not Go On: Austin Cancels SXSW Because Of Coronavirus

A 2019 marquee in Austin advertises the 2020 edition of SXSW, which was canceled Friday by the city of Austin.
Shelley Hiam
/
Courtesy of SXSW
A 2019 marquee in Austin advertises the 2020 edition of SXSW, which was canceled Friday by the city of Austin.

Updated at 5:30 p.m. ET

The city of Austin, Texas, has canceled South by Southwest, after a disaster was declared in response to the expanding coronavirus.

The annual event is a staple for the technology, music and film worlds; last year's edition drew more than 400,000 visitors to the city. The 2020 edition was slated to take place March 13 to 22.

In a statement Friday afternoon, SXSW said: "The city of Austin has canceled the March dates for SXSW and SXSW EDU. SXSW will faithfully follow the city's directions."

Austin Mayor Steve Adler and Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt both announced disaster declarations that will last for seven days and are renewable.

"We are devastated to share this news with you," SXSW organizers said in a statement.

" '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 on ramifications of this unprecedented situation," it continued.

Officials said it was a precautionary measure and an effort to be proactive. Dr. Mark Escott of Austin Public Health said there are no cases of COVID-19 in Travis County.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Anastasia Tsioulcas is a reporter on NPR's Arts desk. She is intensely interested in the arts at the intersection of culture, politics, economics and identity, and primarily reports on music. Recently, she has extensively covered gender issues and #MeToo in the music industry, including backstage tumult and alleged secret deals in the wake of sexual misconduct allegations against megastar singer Plácido Domingo; gender inequity issues at the Grammy Awards and the myriad accusations of sexual misconduct against singer R. Kelly.
Vanessa Romo is a reporter for NPR's News Desk. She covers breaking news on a wide range of topics, weighing in daily on everything from immigration and the treatment of migrant children, to a war-crimes trial where a witness claimed he was the actual killer, to an alleged sex cult. She has also covered the occasional cat-clinging-to-the-hood-of-a-car story.