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SXSW faces lawsuit over denied refunds as Swiss summer festivals urged to cancel

The SXSW festival has been sued over its firm no-refund policy, while Swiss festivals have been encouraged to cancel their summer events by its promoters’ association…


Ticketholders of the cancelled 2020 edition of South by Southwest (SXSW) have sued the Texas festival over denied refunds.

The class action lawsuit claims SXSW is only providing fans with the option to rollover their ticket to one of the next three festivals.

The festival’s policy reads: “SXSW does not issue refunds under any circumstances. Any and all payments made to SXSW are not refundable for any reason, including, without limitation, failure to use Credentials due to illness, acts of God, travel-related problems, acts of terrorism, loss of employment and/or duplicate purchases.”

The complaint, which was filed by Maria Bromley and Kleber Pauta in a Texas Federal Court, claims breach of contract and unjust enrichment and is seeking refunds and damages for any ticketholders.

The 2020 edition of the technology and entertainment festival in Austin, Texas was one of many festivals to be cancelled due to the COVID-19 live events shutdown, and was called off on March 6 for the first time in its 34-year history. In 2019, SXSW welcomed nearly 74,000 punters with over 19,000 coming from outside the US.

Bromley and Pauta, who paid $1,670 and $1,020 for platinum badges, respectively, were refused refunds after contacting organisers of the festival.

In a statement to Law360, SXSW said: “Due to the unique nature of SXSW’s business, where we are reliant on one annual event, we incurred extensive amounts of non-recoupable costs well in advance of March.

“These expenditures, and the loss of expected revenue, have resulted in a situation where we do not have the money to issue refunds.”

Swiss Music Promoters’ Association

The Swiss Music Promoters’ Association (SMPA) has recommended postponing any events scheduled to be held before mid-July until next year.

The advice from the promoters’ association comes following the Swiss government’s introduction of a COVID-19 exit plan last week, which did not include a declaration about the reopening of large events.

The SMPA said in a statement: “For many cultural, sporting and entertainment events planned for the weeks following the end of the event ban on 10 May, this is simply too late.”

Swiss festivals OpenAir St Gallen, SummerDays and Seaside Festivals, Openair Frauenfeld and Zürich Openair are waiting for further clarification from the government, though the SMPA said this will not come until at least later this week.


The UK’s Latitude Festival has become the latest major event to be hit by the COVID-19 outbreak as organisers confirmed the cancellation of its 2020 edition yesterday (Monday).

Organisers of the three-day event, which was scheduled to take place between July 16-19, said ticket refunds are being processed and it will return in 2021.

Latitude was due to be headlined by Haim, Liam Gallagher and the Chemical Brothers, with other acts scheduled to appear such as Kate Tempest, Mahalia, Tove Lo and Simon Amstell.

Organisers said in a statement: “We’ve been closely monitoring this unprecedented situation and it’s become clear that it’s just not possible for this year’s festival to go ahead.

“Our heart goes out to the fans, artists, suppliers, performers, volunteers – our entire Latitude family.”

Romania’s Saga

The inaugural edition of the Romanian dance music festival Saga has been postponed to later this year due to mass gathering bans extending throughout the summer.

The event, which was originally scheduled to take place from June 5-7 in Bucharest’s Izvor Park, has been postponed to September 11-13.

Organisers explained that the line-up for the rescheduled festival “may be slightly different due to artist scheduling.”

Image: @markheybo