To avoid the risk of contagion from the COVID-19 coronavirus, Austin, Texas has cancelled its world-famous South by Southwest Festival (SXSW).

CNBC reported that “South by Southwest, the annual tech, film and music conference held in Austin, Texas, has been cancelled due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus outbreak.” The conference would have been held Friday, March 13 to Sunday, March 22. Last year SXSW had 73,716 attendees and a similar number had been expected this year.

In 2018 SXSW’s impact on the Austin economy totaled $350.6 million. While it doesn’t get the PR of, say, the San Diego Comic-Con, SXSW does have an almost incalculable influence on the entertainment industry.

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. For our registrants, clients, and participants we will be in touch as soon as possible and will publish an FAQ.

“We understand the gravity of the situation for all the creatives who utilize SXSW to accelerate their careers; for the global businesses; and for Austin and the hundreds of small businesses – venues, theatres, vendors, production companies, service industry staff, and other partners that rely so heavily on the increased business that SXSW attracts.

“We will continue to work hard to bring you the unique events you love. Though it’s true that our March 2020 event will no longer take place in the way that we intended, we continue to strive toward our purpose – helping creative people achieve their goals.”

In the immortal words of Douglas Adams, “Don’t panic.” Take reasonable precautions and wash your hands thoroughly. You were already washing your hands, weren’t you? Remember, at least within the Geeking World, the Vulcan hand salute is an appropriate form of greeting.

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