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Austin City Limits music festival canceled for 2020 because of coronavirus

In 2018, the festival contributed $264.6 million to the city’s economy and created or sustained at least 1,500 jobs across bars and restaurants, hotels and transportation, according to the Austin-American Statesman.



The Austin City Limits Music Festival canceled its 2020 concerts. Photo credit: Courtesy of Eddie Gaspar

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune

The Austin City Limits Music Festival, set to take place this fall was canceled Wednesday because of ongoing concern over the spread of the coronavirus, festival organizers said in an email Wednesday.

ACL is one of the largest outdoor music events in Texas and a major economic driver for the city. Last year, about 75,000 people attended each day of the two-weekend event, bringing attendance to at least 400,000, according to the Austin Monitor. The 2019 headliners included Cardi B, Guns N’ Roses, Childish Gambino and The Cure. The lineup for 2020 had not yet been announced.

In 2019 the festival contributed $291 million to the city’s economy and created or sustained at least 1,500 jobs across bars and restaurants, hotels and transportation, according to the Austin City Limits Music Festival 2019 Economic Impact Report.

“We would have loved to put on another memorable show this year, however, with the uncertainty surrounding the current situation in Texas, this decision is the only responsible solution,” organizers said. “The health and safety of our fans, artists, partners, staff and the entire Austin community remains our highest priority.

The festival is scheduled to resume in October 2021 to commemorate the event’s 20th anniversary. Those who already purchased tickets to the 2020 event have the option to lock in tickets for next year at the same price or get a refund.

“Few events are rooted in – & embody – the soul of this city like @aclfestival & their hard decision for the greater good is applauded,” Austin Mayor Steve Adler said in a tweet. “While the show won’t go on this year, there are many ways to support local musicians while we all look forward to the 20th Anniversary next year.”

This is the latest of a number of high profile cancellations in Texas related to the pandemic, including the popular South by Southwest festival that was canceled in March by Adler about a week out from when it was set to begin.

The cancellation from the city of Austin initially caused some tension with festival organizers and the hospitality industry who worried Adler was being overly cautious. When the cancellation was announced Texas had at least 17 confirmed cases of the virus — all were people who were exposed overseas and the virus had not begun to spread widely in the community. It was the event’s first cancellation in its 34-year history.

Last year, SXSW had an estimated $356 million financial impact, about $200 million of that is related to spending by attendees, the Statesman reported. The economic activity from SXSW makes up about 4% of Travis County’s annual hospitality earnings.

Disclosure: Austin Mayor Steve Adler has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune’s journalism. Find a complete list of them here.

The Texas Tribune is a nonpartisan, nonprofit media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them – about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.

Stacy Fernández is the Tribune’s breaking news reporter. When she isn’t breaking stories, Stacy leads the Tribune’s reader-driven explainer series, Texplainer. First introduced to the Lone Star state as an intern at The Dallas Morning News, she was also a News21 fellow, reporter for NPR’s Next Generation Radio Project and Buffalo News intern. Stacy graduated from Syracuse University with dual degrees in magazine journalism and Latino-Latin American studies. The Afro-Dominicana thrifts frequently, is a solid bachata dancer and is a firm believer that listening to audiobooks is just as good as reading.

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january 2022