The Austin, TX based tech and music festival allegedly includes an extremely troubling provision in their contract with SXSW showcase artists.
This afternoon Felix Walworth, frontman for sad boi indie band Told Slant posted an image to his Twitter that appears to include details of a contract between South by Southwest and their showcase artists. In this screenshot, SXSW threaten international artists that they will contact immigration authorities if the artist chooses to play an unofficial SXSW event. The language states, “Accepting and performing unofficial events may result in immediate deportation, revoked passport and denied entry by US Customs Border Patrol at US ports of entry.”
Austin is currently embroiled in a fight with federal authorities and Texas governor Greg Abbott over its status as a Sanctuary City for residents. The city and our sheriff, Sally Hernandez are fighting to protect innocent immigrants from being rounded up by the ICE agents that have been patrolling schools and roads for the past month. With this contract, it seems that SXSW is jumping in bed with the anti-immigrant attitudes of Donald Trump’s administration.
For those that have never attended SXSW, literally thousands of shows happen across the city over the course of a week or so. Most of them are unofficial, non-sanctioned SXSW events that are open to folks that aren’t industry connected or can’t plunk down thousands of dollars for a badge to attend the big SXSW showcase events. Threatening deportation upon artists that choose to perform additional shows at unofficial events is sickeningly unfair to the people that make the festival worth a damn in the first place.
As a longtime Austin resident that finds no charm in the yearly advertising orgy that pollutes the city and is still upset about the loss of a friend in the 2014 SXSW tragedy, this is another glaring reason for the city to put an end to the gross excesses of South by Southwest. Barring that, I hope the artists that make the event worthwhile reconsider their involvement with any festival that would stoop to such petty tactics.