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Austin Clubs Continue Plan To Reschedule SXSW Shows, While Balancing COVID-19 Concerns

Julia Reihs

With South by Southwest canceled, a collective of downtown clubs led by the Red River Cultural District announced a series of shows Wednesday that they're calling "We Can Do Magic."

Rescheduling SXSW Music shows in the wake of the festival's cancellation has taken some wrangling. Owners and staffers of venues, bars, restaurants and hotels met Saturday to iron out the details (while setting aside egos) of rescheduling and booking what were once official shows, along with unofficial ones.

Steve Sternschein, the owner of Empire Control Room and Garage and the Parish, said then he hoped the shows would make up at least some of the direct losses for venues and workers who depend on South By.

"Some folks are coming to town just to collect money. Those folks are not coming anymore. That's great. We don’t need those people," he said. "We need people who care about new ideas, new music, making new connections, and we can still do that regardless of whether there's a huge South By logo at the top of the stage."

In a news release Wednesday, the collective said it was working to "provide the cleanest and safest environments possible" and that venues would follow guidelines set out by both Austin Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The venues are asking people who feel sick to stay home and said older people and those with pre-existing health conditions should be cautious in deciding whether to attend shows.

The release also said venues have stocked up on hand sanitizer and increased the number of hand-washing stations in the area surrounding clubs.

"Venues have increased their budgets on sanitation supplies, plan to double cleaning visits and performing deep cleanings prior to shows, added 20 additional handwashing stations and 15 sanitizer stations throughout live music districts, and plan frequent communication both online and in venues about best practices for cleanliness and sanitation guidelines," the release said.

Not all the details are concrete; full lineups of shows are expected to drop throughout the week.

Got a tip? Email Andrew Weber at Follow him on Twitter @England_Weber.

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Andrew Weber is a general assignment reporter for KUT, focusing on criminal justice, policing, courts and homelessness in Austin and Travis County. Got a tip? You can email him at Follow him on Twitter @England_Weber.
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