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SXSW Will Have Online Events In 2021. A Physical Festival In Austin Is Still A Possibility.

Julia Reihs

South by Southwest will host an online event next year, but plans for a physical one are still in the works, the organization announced Tuesday.

The annual series of conferences and festivals, which attracts hundreds of thousands to Austin each spring, was canceled in March because of COVID-19, the first of many festivals to be shut down this year as officials issued stay-at-home orders and put limits on indoor and outdoor gatherings. Shortly after the cancellation, the company  laid off a third of its full-time staff, leaving many to wonder what the future of SXSW would entail.

Tuesday’s announcement gives some insight: SXSW Online, organizers say, will have “conference keynotes and sessions, screenings, showcases, networking, and exhibitions.” The education-focused segment, , will take place March 9-11, and  SXSW Online will be March 16-20.

“The challenge of building a new future is one that we’re excited to tackle,” Roland Swenson, CEO and co-founder, said in a press release. “This has been such a year of change and we, like the entire world, are reshaping our perspective on how we connect.”

SXSW will start accepting proposals for digital programs and sessions on Oct. 6 for SXSW and SXSW EDU, as well as submissions for the film festival. Rather than doing its typical showcase application process for the music festival, staff will curate music programming, “with priority given to showcase presenters and artists who were scheduled for the 2020 event,” organizers say.

SXSW says it’s working with the city and public health officials on plans for a physical event next year. In 2019, SXSW brought in an estimated $356 million and attracted more than 400,000 attendees from around the world. This year's cancellation was the first in the festival's 34-year history.

Got a tip? Email Marisa Charpentier at . Follow her on Twitter @marisacharp.

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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.