Festival under fire over clause about reporting acts to immigration if they break rules: In the post-Trump era, it looks different than how it was intended
SXSW has vowed to change the language in its contracts after an open letter signed by more than 50 artists expressed outrage over a clause which said the festival would report international acts to immigration authorities if they broke certain rules.
In a statement the festival said it would be be reviewing and amending it for 2018 and beyond after the controversy which started on Thursday when Brooklyn punk group Told Slant pulled out of the event due to the offending clause.
The likes of Rage Against The Machine frontman Zach de la Rocha, indie duo PWR BTTM, rapper Talib Kweli and anti-folk star Kimya Dawson, all signed the open letter which expressed shock that the festival would report acts to immigration authorities.
Were outraged to learn that the festival has been threatening artists who are not US citizens with targeted immigration enforcement and deportation for playing at unofficial showcases, it read.
They added: SXSW is a well respected institution and has a responsibility to show leadership by refusing to collaborate with the governments campaign of fear and hate toward non-citizens.
The U-turn came after the festival tried to reassure acts and attendees that it was firmly supportive of international acts and was in no way colluding with authorities.
In a statement to Austin 360 SXSWs managing director, Roland Swenson, said the reaction to the clause, which SXSW said had been in the contract for at least five years, was in part down to heightened sensitivities now Donald Trump is in the White House.
In the post-Trump era, it looks different than how it was intended, and how it was received in the past. But weve come out strongly against the travel ban, and weve really been going the extra mile to make sure these bands dont get screwed over when they enter the country.
Swenson and SXSW acknowledged that the wording seems strong, and said it would only ever inform authorities if something truly egregious happened, such as disobeying our rules about pyrotechnics on stage, starting a brawl in a club, or causing serious safety issues.