SXSW LLC begins layoffs in wake of 2020 festival cancellation
The cancellation of South by Southwest’s (SXSW) 2020 installment has prompted SXSW LLC to initiate mass layoffs in an effort to recoup financial losses from the postponed iteration, according to The Austin American-Statesman. SXSW formally cancelled its 2020 event due to health concerns related to the novel coronavirus on March 6. In the time since, the brand has laid off about a third of its 175 full-time employees.
“[SXSW] has been rigorously reviewing our operations, and we are in the unimaginable position of reducing our workforce. We are planning for the future and this was a necessary, but heartbreaking step,” a SXSW spokesperson said in a written statement. The fiscal blow of the festival’s cancelation is largely due to SXSW’s event insurance policy, which did not cover cancellations made in response to “bacterial infections, communicable diseases, viruses and pandemics,” SXSW co-founder and CEO Roland Swenson said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal.
Swenson added that SXSW’s losses could be in the “tens of millions of dollars,” and although SXSW intends to host the festival in 2021, Swenson is “not entirely sure” how SXSW will support the follow up installment.
SXSW’s cancellation marks the event’s first cancellation in 34 years. The festival is traditionally held each year in Austin, Texas in mid-March.
H/T: The Austin American-Statesman Photo credit: Gary Miller/FilmMagic