‘Imagine if you are the organizer of a major arts and tech event that attracts a quarter-million attendees. One week out from the conference, the mayor cancels your event. Your event is not named specifically, just that all events involving more than 2,500 people are officially banned. He does this using emergency powers, justified in the name of containing a virus.
And that’s it. This is what happened to South by Southwest, one of the most important events in the world in Austin, Texas, which has thus far not reported a single case of COVID-19. Based on last year’s numbers, It’s the end for:
- 73,716 conference attendees and 232,258 festival attendees;
- 4,700 speakers
- 4,331 media/press attendees
- 2,124 sessions
- 70,00 trade show attendees occupying 181,400 square feet of exhibit space
- 351 official parties and events
- 612 international acts
- 1,964 performance acts
Local merchants are devastated. All hotel and flight reservations are lost. It’s a financial calamity for the city (last year brought half a billion dollars for local merchants) and for untold millions of people affected by the abrupt decision.
Draconian, to say the least.
Making matters worse, a vicious and completely false report published by Variety said that the festival was aching for the city to make the call so that the festival could collect insurance money. This turns out to be entirely wrong: South by Southwest had no insurance against infectious disease. It was a smear and response to mass frenzy. After all, a petition on Change.org signed by 55,000 people had demanded the cancellation.
The city acquiesced to the mob. A grand and glorious conference was destroyed – the first of many this season.
Italy now has 16 million people under quarantine, which is to say that they are prisoners.’
Read more: Why this Draconian Response to COVID-19?