The news that the city of Austin was forcing a SXSW cancellation amid coronavirus fears came as a huge shock to everyone last week.  As soon as the announcement was made, my phone lit up.  It was overwhelming enough that I poured myself a glass of wine and turned on completely mindless tv.

Were you headed to SXSW? Do you know how to survive a SXSW cancellation? 75,000 people were about to descend upon Austin, TX for SXSW, one of the world’s premier music, film and tech festivals.  For the first time in 34 years, the event will not go on.  While SXSW is mostly known for its music festival, what really brings the money to Austin (and $350 million plus of it at that), is the Interactive portion, which draws a young audience of inventors, investors and risk takers looking for networking opportunities and the next big thing.  At any given moment all over the city there are thousands of opportunities to learn, network, workshop and cultivate relationships.  For 8 years now, I’ve been working for the Sales Department at the event, as a SXSW event photographer responsible for documenting the return on investment for their sponsors. It’s exhausting. It’s exhilarating. It’s incredibly fun. And now, it’s not happening.

Austin BCycle
SXSW Cancelled
SXSW Event Photography

Rather than scrap all this amazing SXSW content, here I am to make a few suggestions on how to survive the SXSW cancellation.  It’s no longer relevant, but if you missed the first part of my tips and tricks on how to survive SXSW, well, whatever…. read it and weep: here.

1. Pay to Play Anyways

Between the many folks not scrapping their travel plans and Austinites who want to support local businesses, a lot of places are going to attempt to recoup some of the windfall that the SXSW cancellation is going to cause on their business.  There are many cancelled SXSW events that are still happening and plenty to do in Austin throughout the week.  Many venues who were hosting official SXSW showcases are keeping their lineups the same, they’ll just charge a cover to recoup expenses and losses for the bands involved.

Ways to keep track of the haps:

Make sure to check out my friends Blackillac – they are playing almost every night next week so you have NO excuse not to head out to support them.  If I head to town still, I’ll def be at their March 20th show at Parlor and Yard!

SXSW Cancellation
2. Donate
SXSW cancellation
SXSW Cancellation
SXSW Cancelled

Community always finds a way.  Share some love and dollars if you have a few to spare.

There are a number of funds and ways to donate to folks in Austin who will be affected by the SXSW cancellation.

  • The Austin Community Fund was created by Austin Community Foundation and the Entrepreneurs Foundation to receive charitable donations to support nonprofits assisting individuals and small businesses most negatively impacted by the cancellation of SXSW and least able to recover on their own.
  • SouthbySouthBest is a gofundme created by T-3 with intent to distribute donations directly into the pockets of individuals in the service industry in Austin.  Funds will go in the form of large tips to servers, bartenders, housekeepers, AV professionals, rideshare drivers, etc. from March 13-22nd.
  • Southern Smoke has an emergency relief fund that provides funds to people in the food and beverage industry in need.
  • Banding Together ATX has a gofund me created by the Red River Cultural District, which represents live music venues Cheer Up Charlies, Barracuda, Beerland, Empire, Elysium, Mohawk, Scratchhouse, Stubb’s, Swan Dive and  The Venue, along with promoters, Prism.FM, and a growing list of Austin-based businesses and individuals to provide financial relief to artists, venues and events within the Red River Cultural district specifically.
  • Rally Austin is hive-minding together small businesses for maximum impact to help minimize the economic impact on the business community.
SXSW Cancellation
3. Drink your sorrows away.

You were going to be drunk for 10 days straight.  Good news!  You still can be!

Find a networking event near you to get tipsy with strangers.  It’ll be like you’re still there.

My picks for the best happy hours in Austin, Tx: DrinkWell, The Salty Sow, Better Half, Italic, Parkside and Juliet.

SXSW Film Happy Hour
4. Support the films that won’t get screenings now
Richard Linklaiter
Troublemaker Studios

The SXSW cancellation is going to hit some industries harder than others.  One of those is the film industry.  Many narrative and documentary film makers use their premieres at SXSW to find distribution channels for their films and are devastated by the cancellation.  Stage 32, which has a “global community” that includes over 600,000 creatives, professionals, and industry executives, is offering filmmakers the option to apply for virtual screenings on their site and accepting applications through March 23rd.  Premiering on their site will help facilitate connections with key figures, like sales agents, distributors and agents.

Some of the more buzzworthy films are listed out here on Indiewire, who will update their whereabouts as they get hopefully picked up by new festivals in the coming year.  Indiewire will continue to cover films that are affected by the SXSW cancellation, unless their producers request otherwise, in the coming months to hopefully give them the support that they deserve.

SXSW Virtual Cinema
SXSW Event Photography

Lauren Lindley is an Austin and Lake Tahoe based traveling event photographer.  She has been photographing SXSW for 8 years.  You can see previous posts on her SXSW experience here.  She, like many, is devastated that SXSW 2020 is cancelled and can’t wait to see you next year with a real post on part two of How to Survive SXSW.