SXSW cancellation takes massive hit on local businesses

Austin

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Businesses in Central Texas will take a massive hit with the cancellation of SXSW.

The owner of a sign company said the festival is their biggest revenue generator.

“We should be out tonight, wrapping a building downtown,” said Andrew Mondi, owner of American Color Labs.

For a decade, Mondi has been bringing the color to SXSW, putting up ​giant signs left and right. The event brings in up to $150,000 each year for his business. Mondi works around the clock to get it all up.

“There should be five people back here right now,” said Mondi. “Last year, the Saturday before SXSW, we worked from 8 in the morning to 2:30 a.m. the next day.”

Mondi says every year for SXSW, he puts out five football fields’ worth of merchandise. This year, that simply isn’t going to happen. ​Instead his 15 employees are sitting at home, out overtime money.

“This is our Black Friday; we should be working like crazy right now,” said Mondi.

The SXSW cancellation is hitting all aspects of local business.

“It does have a negative impact on our business,” said Jim Ritts, Paramount Theatre CEO.

The Paramount Theatre is the home for the SXSW Film Festival. The theatre is generally booked, but now gaps fill its calendar.

“For now, the message is come downtown, come to the shows,” said Ritts.

The bright side to this is the theatre is staying open and they have spots to fill.

“What we are doing, is we are moving as quickly as possible to book additional shows during that period,” said Ritts. “That will mean, they will have less of a loss of income, during that period of time. I also think that there are opportunites for us to maybe help some of the organizations who help the entertainers in the music industry.”

​That’s the goal Mondi is taking on, too.

​”Drumming up business from our client base, most notably our locally based businesses and brands here,” said Mondi.

Mohawk, the popular live music venue on Red River, posted a heartfelt message on Twitter after the cancellation. Like so many others, it’s encouraging people to continue to go to local shows and eat out.​

Mohak Music Venue posts SXSW cancelation message.

The message concludes with: “Go to happy hours, tip your bartenders, support your friends and neighbors, we need it now more than ever.”​

Austin Mayor Steve Adler echoes that message.​

“You know we canceled South By this week, there are a lot of people that are hurting because of that. Now is the time that we should be going to restaurants, going to clubs, buy musicians’ merchandise, helping one another,” Adler said.

SXSW sent an email to badge holders Friday night.

Organizers write that they’re still “working through the ramifications of this unprecedented situation.”​

They’re working to provide some sort of online experience.​ In addition, badge holders can defer their registration and use it for SXSW in one of the next three years.​ The email doesn’t mention refunds.​

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