SXSW forced to lay off employees after coronavirus forces festival cancellation

The event was cancelled last Friday

SXSW has reportedly been forced to lay off a considerable number of employees after the global outbreak of coronavirus forced the cancellation of this year’s festival.

It comes after the event was axed last Friday (March 6) only a week before the Austin, Texas festival was due to begin, with attendees set to come from all over the world.

As the Austin Statesman reports, SXSW’s parent company SXSW LLC has laid off a third of its 175 full-time employees.


In a statement to the Statesman, SXSW LLC said the company “has been rigorously reviewing our operations, and we are in the unimaginable position of reducing our workforce”.

They added: “We are planning for the future and this was a necessary, but heartbreaking, step.”

The annual showcase of music, film and culture brings in 100,000 visitors to the city every year, but SXSW now fears it could lose tens of millions of dollars in the wake of the cancellation.

SXSW 2019 CREDIT: Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images

On top of this, the organisers recently admitted the festival wasn’t covered by insurance for cancellation due to coronavirus.

Speaking to The Austin Chronicle, SXSW co-founder Nick Barbaro confirmed that the event didn’t have insurance for cancellation in the event of a disease outbreak. He also said that reports the event would be covered by their insurance policies because the decision to cancel was made by the city declaring a “local state of disaster” were untrue.


The cancellation of SXSW followed Miami’s Ultra Music Festival being called off. Artists including Green DayBTSYungblud, and Mariah Carey have all cancelled dates in Asia over concerns about coronavirus.

Last week (March 3), Glastonbury organisers also responded to fans who feared the Worthy Farm festival could be cancelled. “Glastonbury Festival thoroughly plans each year’s event, and puts in place all necessary measures to protect the public and maximise safety,” Head Of Event Operations Adrian Coombs said.

“With this in mind and with our 2020 Festival still 16 weeks away, we continue to plan and prepare for the event, whilst at the same time closely monitoring developments with the coronavirus situation.”

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