Back in early March, SXSW was forced to cancel the 2020 edition of their festival as a result of the growing spread of the coronavirus. The festival joined names like Coachella, III Points, Lovers And Friends on a long list of festivals that were forced to do likewise. But the SXSW organizers are adapting to a future that may not be much safer in 2021, announcing an online edition of their annual showcase for next year. Entitled SXSW Online, the festival will occur from March 16-20 and it will include movie screenings, keynote speeches, conferences, and more. Starting October 6, 2020, SXSW will start accepting entires for the Film Festival and SXSW EDU, the latter of which will occur online from March 9 to March 11.
The online festival will be curated by SXSW’s programming staff and the festival will give priority to artists and presenters who were originally scheduled for the 2020 festival. SXSW CEO and co-founder Roland Swenson called the online festival a “challenge” in a press release saying, “The challenge of building a new future is one that we’re excited to tackle.”
This has been such a year of change and we, like the entire world, are reshaping our perspective on how we connect. We’re pleased to introduce SXSW Online as part of our program for 2021, and regardless of platform, we will continue to bring together the brightest minds from creative industries worldwide.
The announcement comes after SXSW received a class action lawsuit over its refunding policy after cancelling the 2020 festival. Rather than issue refunds to ticketholders, the festival revealed that they would instead only allow tickets for the 2020 festival to be exchanged for future events. A month after the policy was made public, the class action lawsuit was filed in US District Court for the Western District Of Texas Austin Division. The complaint reads in part, “SXSW has, in effect, shifted the burden of the COVID-19 pandemic onto festivalgoers, […] individuals who in these desperate times may sorely need the money they paid to SXSW for a festival that never occurred.”
The full announcement form SXSW can be read here.