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SXSW Lays Off A Third Of Its Full-Time Staff After Austin Cancels Festival

Julia Reihs

South by Southwest laid off a third of its full-time staff Monday, a SXSW spokesperson said. 

The company employs about 175 people. The layoffs come three days after the City of Austin  canceled the festival due to concerns over COVID-19. 

“Due to the City of Austin’s unprecedented and unexpected cancellation of SXSW 2020 events in March, SXSW has been rigorously reviewing our operations, and we are in the unimaginable position of reducing our workforce,” the spokesperson told KUT in a statement.

The annual event attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors to Austin each spring. Last year, the festival brought in about $356 million and saw more than 400,000 attendees from around the world. 

“Those of us in the business of live events know the level of trust required to execute an event of SXSW’s scale, and we are deeply sad to let people go this soon,” the spokesperson wrote. “We are planning for the future, and this was a necessary, but heartbreaking step.”

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Marisa Charpentier joined KUT as a digital producer in January 2020. After graduating from The University of Texas at Austin with degrees in journalism and Plan II Honors in 2018, she worked as a reporter for Community Impact Newspaper, covering the Central Texas communities of Cedar Park and Leander.