AUSTIN (KXAN) — On Monday, South By Southwest announced it had laid off about one-third of its full-time staff in light of the festival’s recent cancellation over COVID-19 concerns.
In a statement, SXSW said:
“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.”
SXSW says it is “deeply sad” to let these employees go and that the move was a “necessary, but heartbreaking step.”
On Friday, Austin Mayor Steve Adler, along with other city and county leaders announced that the festival would be canceled amid nationwide and local concerns over COVID-19, the disease caused by the Wuhan coronavirus.
The 2020 festival’s fate was precipitated by several big-name companies pulling out of the festival, including Apple, WarnerMedia, Twitter, Facebook and Intel.
At the time of the cancellation announcement, nearly 56,000 people had signed a change.org petition to cancel the festival.
In a letter on its website on Friday, SXSW said:
“We are devastated to share this news with you. “The show must go on” is in our DNA, and this is the first time in 34 years that the March event will not take place. We are now working through the ramifications of this unprecedented situation.”