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Plan to showcase Tucson arts, culture on an international stage dashed with cancelation of SXSW

Plan to showcase Tucson arts, culture on an international stage dashed with cancelation of SXSW

From the Tucson-area coronavirus coverage from January to March: Nearly 1,300 cases in Arizona, stay-at-home order series

Big Boi, upper right, and Sleepy Brown perform during the 2019 South by Southwest Music Festival. Organizers have canceled the 2020 festival amid concerns about the novel coronavirus.

Plans to showcase Tucson arts, cuisine and culture on an international stage have been dashed with the cancellation of Austin, Texas’, annual SXSW festival.

A contingent from the University of Arizona was expected to travel to SXSW as part of the university’s inaugural “Wonder House,” which was designed to be a hub for arts, music, food, immersive drama and talks by some of the UA’s noteworthy faculty including presidential scholar and photographer David Hume Kennerly, planetary sciences professor Dante Lauretta and renown linguist Noam Chomsky, with PBS host Evan Smith.

“Wonder House” was set to take over the downtown Austin Brazilian steakhouse Fogo de Chao on March 13-15, to present talks, showcase Sonoran cuisine and shine a light on Tucson arts and artists including muralist Jessica Gonzales and photographer Mike Olbinski.

Austin city officials on Friday announced that they were canceling the festival in light of growing concerns over the novel coronavirus. The announcement came a week before the festival was to kick off March 13, bringing with it tens of thousands of music, art and technology fans from around the world.

Friday’s announcement comes after several big names including Twitter, Facebook and TikTok pulled out of the event, citing concerns over travel in light of the virus.

SXSW organizers in a statement said they were working through the ramifications of the cancellation and considering options that could include rescheduling the event.

UA officials said they had been monitoring the coronavirus developments and taking cues from the Centers for Disease Control. “Wonder House” participants were expected to leave for Austin on Tuesday.

SXSW is the largest regional music, arts and technology festival and often musicians find their way to Tucson stages either before they play Austin or on their way home from the festival, which this year was to run March 13-22.

Contact reporter Cathalena E. Burch at cburch@tucson.com or 573-4642. On Twitter @Starburch

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