UPDATED with SXSW statement: South by Southwest has laid off a reported 50 employees — nearly one-third of its staff — in the wake of the festival’s cancellation by the City of Austin over coronavirus concerns.
“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,” the festival said in a statement.
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, first reported Monday night by the Austin American-Statesman, come after SXSW on Friday announced the decision to cancel its 2020 edition that was to begin this month. The move came after companies began opting out of attending the annual festival over concerns about the worldwide coronavirus epidemic.
Austin’s mayor declared a local disaster as the city faces a major economic battering.