SXSW Notes 'Handful' of Cancellations Amid Coronavirus Scare

While the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has begun to rock the global live music scene, causing tour and festival postpones around the world, all is still steady — mostly — for South by Southwest, which will commence in Austin in March.

That’s not without a few minor hiccups; SXSW has seen “a handful” of cancellations specifically because of the coronavirus, according to a statement from the media festival, though no more overall cancellations than usual. The spokesperson also said the festival is following Austin Public Health’s recommendations to prevent spread of the disease, and the festival has added an information sheet on the coronavirus to its attendee safety resources page.

The SXSW 2020 event is proceeding as planned,” a SXSW spokesperson said in a statement. “Safety is a top priority for SXSW, and we work closely with local, state, and federal agencies year-round to plan for a safe event. Where travel has been impacted, especially in the case of China, we are seeing a handful of cancellations. However, we are on par with years past in regard to registrants who are unable to attend.”

Among those cancelations is China Gathering, a platform that’s brought Chinese entrepreneurs and musicians to SXSW for the past three festivals. China Gathering is canceling its entire slate of events, including its trade summit and music showcase. 

“The first few months of 2020 have been rough,” Vivian Forrest, China Gathering’s founder and CEO, said in an open letter published on the China Gathering website. “I sincerely believe that staying together and staying strong, we can find a way to stop the disease. Fingers crossed for a brighter and healthier future, and we look forward to being even more involved in next year’s SXSW. “

The virus has most heavily impacted the live music scenes in Europe and Asia, with multiple musical acts postponing concerts over health concerns. A few U.S. live music events have been hit though. The Korea Times Music Festival in Los Angeles, one of the most prominent annual Korean music events in America, was indefinitely postponed earlier this week, and the Overpass Music Festival in Orange County was postponed before then.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed Wednesday morning a Coronavirus infection in California in which the patient had no travel history to another patient with the virus. The patient became the first community spread case in the United States.

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