What SWSW2021 will look like remains uncertain, but it does not seem like there will be any on-site event.
The tragic outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic caused SXSW2020 to be cancelled earlier this year. While initially there was a lot of disagreement in the public on whether the decision was desired and necessary, the sheer amplitude of the crisis that followed quickly made clear that by cancelling SXSW2020 and its inflow of many thousands of people from around the world, Austin escaped catastrophe.
So what will SXSW2021 look like? From March 16-20, SXSW is organizing a remote event which will be called SXSW Online. There will be feature conference keynotes and sessions, film screenings, music showcases, networking, and exhibitions. There will also be a dedicated SXSW EDU Online event that will take place from March 9-11.
There were originally plans to also carve out a small on-site event. When pressed by me on Twitter on December 10th on whether or not that event was still in the works, the curt answer (short answers are very on brand for SXSW) was that “[the] focus right now is on SXSW online” which makes me believe that – particularly because of the current winter surge in COVID-19 cases – there will be no on-site SXSW event taking place in Austin in 2021.
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