SXSW Causes A Stir Over International Artist Clause In Contract
Texas based festival SXSW found themselves embroiled in a bit of controversy this week over a clause in their artist contract. The contract specifies that the festival will report international artists who act in "ways that adversely affect the viability of their official SXSW showcase" to the proper authorities, which could result in "immediate deportation."
The clause refers to artists performing at events outside of the festival itself, a common practice for acts that make their way to Austin for SXSW. The issue was brought to attention by Felix Walworth of Told Slant, who tweeted an image of the contract. Walworth ultimately decided to withdraw from the festival, before urging other artists to do the same.
While the clause isn't a new addition to the contract, it takes on a different tone in the era of the Trump administration where anxieties around deportation are already high for many. In light of the controversy, SXSW managing director Roland Swenson has offered up some clarification on the festival's stance as it pertains to international artists.
Swenson states that the contract serves as a warning for international artists about the consequences of violating immigration laws, and that artists would only be reported to authorities in extreme situations involving crime or behavior that threatens the safety of others. He further clarifies that he hopes the festival would never have to resort to having an artist deported.
"We understand that given the current political climate surrounding
immigration, the language that was published seems strong. Violating
U.S. immigration law has always carried potentially severe consequences,
and we would be remiss not to warn our participating acts of the likely
It should also be noted that SXSW has taken a stance against Trump's travel ban with Contrabanned: #MusicUnites, which will showcase artists from the seven countries affected by the ban.
H/T: A.V. Club
Connor Jones is a writer and music fan based in Portland, Oregon.