On Thursday, Told Slant’s Felix Walworth announced that they had pulled out of their performance at SXSW over language in their artist contract, which stated that the festival had the right to "notify the appropriate U.S. immigration authorities” if artists “or their representatives have acted in ways that adversely affect the viability of their official SXSW showcase.” The announcement prompted backlash against SXSW and the language in the contract and led to an open letter signed by Girlpool, Downtown Boys, PWR BTTM, Priests, and other artists, urging the festival to change the controversial language.
SXSW issued a statement addressing the language in the contract on Friday, writing on their website, "SXSW opposes discrimination of any kind.” The statement continues: "This language has been part of the contracts since the summer of 2013, and we will be reviewing and amending it for 2018 and beyond.” Read the full statement from SXSW below.
SXSW opposes discrimination of any kind, and has taken a public stand against President Trump’s travel ban and proposed legislation like SB6 in Texas. We have and will continue to support human rights for all. In this political climate, especially as it relates to immigration, we recognize the heightened importance of standing together against injustice.
SXSW has never reported anyone to any immigration authorities, including Customs & Border Protection (CBP), the agency that deals with participating artists entering the United States.
Participation from individuals and organizations who bring a different perspective — especially those who travel from all over the world — to Austin each March is what makes SXSW a special event.
We have been coordinating with international acts coming to SXSW to try and mitigate issues at U.S. ports of entry, and will continue to build a coalition of attorneys to assist any who face problems upon arrival in the States.
The language in our Performance Agreement is intended to facilitate U.S. entry for international artists and to show CBP that SXSW takes visa issues seriously. This language has been part of the contracts since the summer of 2013, and we will be reviewing and amending it for 2018 and beyond.
In regards to the situation surrounding Told Slant, before we had clarity on the situation we believed this artist had taken our language out of context. We apologize for this error.
A major reason for SXSW’s existence is the discovery of new and exciting artists from around the world, and our hope is that we can help these creative people achieve their goals.