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Home > SXSW 2020 Grantee FAQs

SXSW 2020 Grantee FAQs

Last updated 19th March

Following the official announcement on 6th March from SXSW that the City of Austin has cancelled SXSW 2020, PRS Foundation, and International Showcase Fund (ISF) partners and BBC Music Introducing  called an emergency meeting on 9th March and will continue to update our ‘Latest Advice for Grantees’ page as more information becomes available.

We have received many enquiries so have produced the below responses to Frequently Asked Questions.

We will continue to update this page as news comes in.


Based on the information currently available to us: ISF partners considered it imperative that grantees did not travel to Austin to perform at unofficial events (See full guidance below)


About the cancellation of SXSW 2020
Practical advice
Grant-related advice
Potential impact of the cancellation
Positive actions to support UK talent
Useful links relating to coronavirus and international travel for musicians


About the cancellation of SXSW

Why has SXSW 2020 been cancelled?

On  6th March it was announced that the City of Austin has cancelled the March dates for SXSW and SXSW EDU. Austin Mayor, Steve Adler announced that he had issued an order that effectively cancels SXSW after declaring a “local disaster” and Austin Public Health is currently investigating possible cases of Covid-19 in the city.

What has been said by SXSW?

As per SXSW’s update on March 6th, SXSW will faithfully follow the City’s directions.

The announcement states that SXSW organisers are exploring options to reschedule the event. For registrants, clients, and participants, organisers will be in touch as soon as possible and will publish an FAQ.

Delegates/badgeholders who have registered to attend SXSW 2020 can defer registration to 2021, 2022, or 2023. You will remain in the SXSW system so don’t need to take immediate action, and SXSW encourage you to email questions to  Music Festival wristband holders have been informed that wristbands will be deferred to 2021, and that SXSW will be in touch with a system for deferral and FAQ. You do not need to take immediate action regarding 2020 wristbands. If you have immediate questions email reg@sxsw.comDeferral forms must be submitted by 30th April.

On 10th March, several reports confirmed that SXSW will not be issuing any refunds following the cancellation of SXSW 2020. As per the company’s Participation and Credentials Terms and Conditions:

No SXSW application fees are refundable….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. SXSW will not issue refunds for Credentials that have been revoked.  You can read SXSW’s full statement full here.

On 13th March SXSW posted this announcement about registration deferral details. You can read the full details on their news post here

Will SXSW be rescheduled?

We do not yet know and would not like to speculate here, though the team at SXSW have indicated that they are looking into it. Please monitor for official updates.

Are/were unofficial events going ahead?

PRS Foundation and funding partners were aware that organisers of some unofficial SXSW events announced that unless we are instructed otherwise, they would proceed with events. Many are shared links to response sheets whereby artists with cancelled official showcase could see available unofficial slots.

Then international travel bans were first placed on EU countries, then expanded to include the UK and Ireland, meaning very few grantees would be in the position to travel. Some were already in the States for other events but were encouraged to return to the UK by midnight on 16th March.

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Practical advice for grantees

Should I still travel to Austin?

Please monitor official advice from SXSW, the City of Austin and Austin Public Health and the FCO, whose latest advice on foreign travel the USA can be found here.

On 11 March President Trump announced that, effective from midnight Friday 13th March, the US Government will not permit entry to the USA of any non-US nationals, including British nationals, who have visited (or are resident in) Schengen Area countries 14 days or less prior to their travel to the USA. The US Government has indicated that this is a temporary restriction that will last for 30 days. This restriction does not apply to travellers from the UK who have been continually present in the UK or the Republic of Ireland for at least 14 days prior to their travel to the USA.

Then the travel ban was extended to include 26 European countries. From midnight on 16th March, that travel ban was extended to UK and Ireland, meaning regardless of our advice against travelling, artists were unable to travel.

We have provided related guidance to grantees below so that you can make an informed decision relating to grant support.

If I booked accommodation through SXSW, how do I cancel?

According to SXSW’s email sent on 6th March, if you have booked a hotel through SXSW Housing & Travel, your reservation will not be automatically cancelled. To change or cancel your reservation please follow the instructions in your SXSW Hotel Reservation Confirmation email.

Please see the SXSW Housing FAQ here.

If I booked accommodation directly, how do I cancel and am I eligible for a refund?

We cannot offer blanket advice* here because terms and conditions vary from hotel to hotel. We advise you to check your hotel/accommodation booking policy and liaise with them directly.

For those using AirBnB, the company have issued Coronavirus-related Policy and Terms and Conditions here and their Extenuating Circumstances Advice here.

Should I cancel my travel plans and am I eligible for a refund from my flight provider?

We cannot offer blanket advice* here. Please check your booking and refunds policies as soon as you can.

Business Traveller have issued useful advice on refunds/insurance cover relating to flights, as well as advice on hotel cancellation and insurance here.

And Business Insider’s advice includes a recommendation that if you are not eligible for a flight refund, you may be able to pay a small fee to reschedule your flight or choose a different destination.

Will my Visa allow me to travel to the US still?

Take a look at Tamizdat who have been liaising with the legal team at SXSW. Their FAQ page can be accessed here.

With  the cancellation of SXSW, artists and industry are scrambling to adjust their plans. Not surprisingly, we are hearing lots of questions about what people can and cannot do. The following FAQ is Tamizdat’s guidance regarding visa and immigration issues (We are not going to address the question of whether—from a health point of view—it’s wise to travel internationally right now). If you have further questions, please feel free to contact for pro bono assistance.

We also recommend this Musicians’ Union page for general advice on performing in the US which includes useful links.

Visa agency Viva La Visa are also offering free advice to musicians affected by this cancellation.

If you are denied entry to the US for any reason this might affect your ability to obtain a visa/ESTA for any future visits.

Will my insurance help to cover costs?

Your travel insurance, credit card protection, or other insurance policies may help you to cover or make claims for SXSW related costs. We cannot offer blanket advice* here and encourage you to check your policies and liaise with your insurance or credit card provider.

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) recommends that you check and follow government advice and risk invalidating travel insurance if you ignore such advice. The ABI’s Coronavirus Q&A can be read here.


Will my insurance cover loss of income?

According to the Musicians’ Union’s Coronavirus-related advice, there is no insurance that they are aware of that covers loss of income to an individual following the closure of a business from COVID-19, or any other cause. Businesses are able to obtain cover for cancellation of an event from defined perils. If your employer or engager is adequately insured, there is a much greater chance of you receiving payment should your work be cancelled due to COVID-19 concerns. However, the MU understands that all new policies which are arranged from now on are likely to exclude cover for COVID-19.

* Because of a number of variables, it is not possible to offer advice which applies to all grantees. Please contact our team with questions. Musicians’ Union members can consult their regional office for further advice.

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Grant-related advice

What happens to my grant from PRS Foundation?

International Showcase Fund (ISF) grantees and PRS Foundation & BBC Music Introducing showcase grantees have received financial and other support to showcase at or take part in writing camps at SXSW 2020.

As such, we will be liaising with grantees on a case-by-case basis regarding the grant and financial impact of this cancellation.

Will my grant be reclaimed?

For SXSW 2020 and other ISF grants approved prior to March 2020:

PRS Foundation and ISF funding partners will honour all approved commitments at 100% of the approved grant where an international showcase event has been cancelled due to the Coronavirus pandemic^.

We ask grantees to complete our Exceptional Circumstances Form here . This requires grantees to outline the impacts of cancellation or postponement and to provide updated budgets so that PRS Foundation can make recommendations on behalf of partners.

You may be required to submit evidence of losses due to non-recoverable expenditure^.


^ Grantees may be eligible for refunds from flight or accommodation providers and/or may be able to make insurance claims (see above) to recover some costs.
We expect in most cases – even those where some expenses can be recovered – grantees will make a loss and as such a default position of 100% payment has been agreed.

In some cases where recovered expenses are small, grantees may propose alternative activities which benefit the music creator’s development. PRS Foundation and partners are likely to approve such suggestions and honour our grants commitment.

In exceptional circumstances where significant costs can be recovered and the grantee is not going to make a loss, PRS Foundation may request to reclaim a fair proportion of the grant and will reinvest in international showcasing.


We understand grantees are in a difficult position and are not rushing decisions. We will not make decisions which drive a grantee or a representative into further losses/debt.

We appreciate your patience and understanding as we deal with an unprecedented situation, and rest assured we will make decisions in the best interests of the music creators involved.


How do we liaise with PRS Foundation?

Funding partners are here to help you and will do whatever we can to support grantees.

We ask grantees to complete our Exceptional Circumstances Form here. You will be able to indicate the urgency of your submission and we strive to get back to urgent cases within 2-3 working days. Please email if a decision is required sooner.

Can we keep the grant and carry it over if SXSW 2020 is rescheduled?

We are of the opinion that any SXSW event in 2020 will be unlikely to attract the same number of industry delegates, the same artists and the same audience. As such, we support grantees’ decisions to cancel their engagement and the above process will be enacted. Furthermore, we know that most grantees will be at a loss and therefore want to help you to tackle this issue as soon as possible.

Should SXSW announce a rescheduled date in 2020 and you are confirmed for an official showcase or official writing camp, PRS Foundation and funding partners are happy for you to attend, to use the grant support as previously planned, and are likely to offer on-the-ground support as planned for March 2020.

We are not in a position to top-up grant support in this scenario so please consider this when making decisions.

Can we keep the grant and carry it over to SXSW 2021?

No. We know that most grantees are at a loss for 2020’s event and want to help you address that issue as soon as possible (see above).

If SXSW makes an offer for you to showcase at or take part in an official writing camp at SXSW 2021, we will relax our rules on the number of applications or grants you can receive for each territory and encourage you to apply to our deadlinesYou must make an official request to PRS Foundation and your request will be considered carefully by funding partners, based on the merits of attending SXSW 2021.

In all cases, we advise grantees to liaise with the PRS Foundation team.

Can we keep the grant and spend it on another event or other activities?

Not without our permission – please read the above information on suggesting alternative activities for any recovered expenses.

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Potential impact of the cancellation

We cannot overstate the economic, cultural and social impacts of SXSW 2020’s cancellation.

For SXSW 2020, 36 artists, bands and songwriters were offered International Showcase Fund support, and a further 4 artists were being funded to showcase at the BBC Music Introducing & PRS Foundation event at the British Music Embassy.

More than 60 artists were booked to play at the British Music Embassy this year across the week. Over 120 UK artists were booked to showcase officially, featuring c. 300+ musicians. And the UK industry delegation is second only to Brazil for the highest number of attendees.

We know from our International Showcase Fund (ISF) 2016-19 Report that:

  • Through investing £850,000 of ISF funding between 2016-19, £5.3m was generated for the music industry and the UK economy
  • For every £1 of Department for International Trade contribution, grantees were able to generate £15 in export revenues (and £27 in total revenues)
  • 91% of ISF beneficiaries report tangible business outcomes including record and publishing deals, new business relationships, festival and overseas touring booking, gaining booking agents in new territories and an increase in media and PR engagement
  • ISF beneficiaries report an average of 3.5 tangible business outcomes per showcase event
  • Average export revenue for ISF beneficiaries increased to £17,200 per year (a 94% increase)
  • 40% of investments benefitted grantees from BAME backgrounds and we continue to support a wide range of UK genres

SXSW grantee success stories include:

  • Sam Fender – winner of the Brits Critics Choice Award in 2019 whose international career success includes a UK Number 1 debut album release and multiple international accolades
  • Jade Bird – Winner of the SXSW Grulke Prize 2018, with successful US tours and US TV appearances
  • Dave – Mercury Music Prize 2019 and Brits Album of the Year 2020 winner
  • Wolf Alice – Mercury Music Prize 2019 winner
  • AJ Tracey – acclaimed and commercially successful independent artist who met a producer collaborator in Austin
  • Other ISF supported SXSW success stories include Kate Tempest, IDLES, Nubya Garcia, Ezra Collective, Black Midi, Anna Meredith and Boy Azooga

Funding partners are here to support grantees’ next steps and will help wherever possible to reduce the negative impact of event cancellations.

The decision will almost certainly be a harsh blow to Austin’s economy, as SXSW brings in hundreds of millions of dollars in tourism, ticket sales, and other revenue streams every year. Last year, the festival made $355.9 million for the city of Austin. And many rely on SXSW to sustain their businesses and creative careers.

It is important to recognise that UK presence at SXSW would not be possible without the financial support, in-kind support and expertise of a number of organisations, trade bodies and individuals, including the British Music Embassy crew and partners, BBC Music Introducing and all International Showcase Fund partners who will continue to advise and support their members.

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Positive actions to support UK talent

PRS Foundation would like to see the music industry come together to support those impacted by SXSW’s cancellation.

We welcome the speedy and generous reaction of key organisations, companies and individuals who are pooling resources to offer support to those affected by SXSW’s cancellation.

We are aware of several UK-based events being planned and will be updating this page to include links to events, live streams and other interventions which are intended to raise awareness and raise funds for UK talent and associated businesses.

We also encourage fans and the music community to support the artists by buying their music, merch and gig tickets, and by sharing their music widely so that the music creators impacted by the cancellation can continue to write, record, release and tour the music we love.

Click here to find out more about PRS Foundation’s SXSW 2020 grantees.

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Useful links relating to coronavirus and international travel for musicians

Updated UK Government travel advice relating to Coronavirus (COVID-19)

UK Government’s Coronavirus Action Plan

PRS Foundation’s Latest Coronavirus Advice to Grantees Performing Overseas – this will be updated to include links to guidance form other international showcase events

The Musicians’ Union’s Advice for Musicians in Relation to Coronavirus (COVID-19)

UK Music statement on Coronavirus and the music industry