Tuesday, March 10, 2020

SXSW Lays Off One-Third Of Staff Following Festival Cancellation; Austin Restricts 2,500+ Capacity Events | Pollstar News

Austin City Limits Music Festival 2017Gary Miller / FilmMagicAustin City Limits Music Festival 2017\

Days after announcing that the 2020 edition of South By Southwest

was canceled because of coronavirus concerns

, the Austin music community has suffered another blow with the news that SXSW has laid off about a third of its full-time staff. 

“Due to the City of Austin’s unprecedented and unexpected cancellation of the SXSW 2020 events in March, SXSW has been rigorously reviewing our operations, and we are in the unimaginable position of reducing our workforce. Today we said goodbye to approximately one-third of our full-time staff,” a SXSW spokesperson said in a statement on Monday, confirmed by Pollstar.   

“Those of us in the business of live events know the level of trust required to execute an event of SXSW’s scale, and we are deeply sad to let people go this soon. We are planning for the future and this was a necessary, but heartbreaking step.”

The layoffs affected around 50 employees, including both veteran staffers who had been working for the festival for over a decade and others who had been with SouthBy for months,  according to the

Austin Chronicle

.  Other publications reported the full-time staff was around 175 employees.

The city of Austin was declared a local state of disaster March 6 as a precautionary measure for the threat of the coronavirus, which included canceling South by Southwest. The conference and festivals encompassing film, music and comedy was scheduled March 13-20.


message on SXSW’s website

notes, “We are exploring options to reschedule the event and are working to provide a virtual SXSW online experience as soon as possible for 2020 participants, starting with SXSW EDU.”

SXSW’s refund policy, as

stated on its website

, does not allow for refunds for any reason but the festival is reportedly allowing badge-holders to use their 2020 passes for either 2021, 2022 or 2023 editions, according to

Consequence of Sound

More large concerts will most likely be affected because Austin has announced that “events larger than 2,500 people are prohibited unless organizers can assure Austin Public Health that mitigation plans for infectious diseases are in place,” according to Austin’s ABC-affiliated


, which posted a link to the city’s

list of risk factors and criteria for mass gatherings

Event organizers are told to contact Austin Public Health to discuss mitigation plans, with a priority for evulating events taking place March 7 through May 1. 

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