SXSW 2020: Texas art and tech festival cancelled due to coronavirus

7 March 2020, 09:01

The festival has been cancelled due to the virus
The festival has been cancelled due to the virus. Picture: PA

By Asher McShane

The South by Southwest arts and technology festival in Texas has been cancelled due to coronavirus.

Austin mayor Steve Adler announced a local disaster as a precaution because of the threat of Covid-19, effectively cancelling the annual SXSW event, despite no confirmed cases in the area.

Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt, the county's top elected official, said no one in the Austin area has been found to have the virus.

However, South by Southwest was expected to have drawn an international audience, posing a threat of contagion.

The announcement comes days after several high-profile companies, including Netflix, tech news outlet Mashable, video-based social media platform TikTok and US chip maker Intel pulled out of the festival.

More than 50,000 people had signed a petition seeking to get the festival cancelled.

The festival drew 73,716 attendees last year, 19,166 of whom came from outside the US.

Combined with SXSW's gaming expo and education conference, the 2019 event drew 417,400 attendees, organisers said. An economic impact report found it contributed 355.9 million dollars to the local economy.

The US death toll from the coronavirus has climbed to 14, with all but one victim in Washington state, while the number of infections swelled to over 200 scattered across at least 18 states, including at least six cases in the Houston area.