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SXSW Lays Off About One-Third Of Its Employees, 2021 Event Now In Doubt

Coronavirus disease is really making a horrible impact.


SXSW was one of the many events that were cancelled due to fears over the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Unfortunately this cancellation has resulted in the SXSW LLC company laying off about one-third of its 175 year-round employees, with the company adding they "are planning for the future and this was a necessary, but heartbreaking, step." SXSW CEO Roland Swenson said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal that while the company is planning on having an SXSW 2021, "how we’re going to do that I’m not entirely sure." It should be noted that SXSW is not offering refunds to ticketholders.

Still, Austin Mayor Steve Adler, tells the El Paso Times that SXSW does intend on coming back.

“They told me they fully intend to come back next year,” Adler said, although he was speaking to the Statesman prior the announcement that SXSW had laid off employees. “They haven’t quite figured out the path yet. But they fully intend to come back. It is part of who we are — it’s part of our brand — and I think this city wants to help them and the (hospitality) industry” overall.

The cancellation of SXSW has also predictably impacted small businesses in the Austin, TX area. Mary Kathryn Paynter, co-founder of, tells CNN the reported loss of income for small businesses around the area is roughly $2.1 million.

"The total amount of reported income lost is $2,112,335," Paynter said. "These are people whose job is to be behind the scenes. What we hope to give them is not just help to get their money back, but visibility and an opportunity for them to tell their stories."

So why is this all important? Because this is just one festival in one city suffering from a cancellation. Multiply that by however many end up being cancelled and it starts to paint a really serious picture of just how much damage COVID-19 is really going to do.

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