Saturday, 25 March, 2017

SXSW Music Festival Removes Controversial Deportation Language in Performance Contracts

SXSW Changes Contracts Related To International Performers Amid Pressure SXSW to Drop Controversial Deportation Clause in Artist Contracts Following Backlash
Elaine Woods | 09 March, 2017, 00:45

Festival officials then pledge to omit controversial language that allows "the option of notifying immigration authorities in situations where a foreign artist might "adversely affect the viability of artist's official showcase" from future artist invites and performance agreements. The clause became an intense point of discussion when band Told Slant posted a screenshot of the contract to Twitter and declared they would not be attending the festival in protest, with many other artists lending their support. "It is not SXSW's duty or authority to escalate a matter beyond local authorities", they state.

Today, SXSW released a statement, which included both an apology and a promise to change that contract language to assuage those concerns.

South by Southwest (SXSW) festival is to remove warnings from performance contracts about United States immigration rules, saying it publicly opposes President Trump's latest travel ban.

Although SXSW co-founder Roland Swenson initially called the whole thing a "misunderstanding" and said that the festival would likely never act on the clause, activists and lawyers pointed out that the aggressive wording was not an industry standard.

Don Giovanni Records had stated it would pull out the music conference if the language wasn't changed. "In this political climate, especially as it relates to immigration, we recognize the heightened importance of standing together against injustice", it reads.

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To reinforce that stance, we would like to address the concerns regarding the language in our artist invitation letter and performance agreement for the SXSW Music Festival. "There is no need for a contract clause like this to prevent that, and absolutely nothing requiring SxSW to narc on bands who are at risk for deportation".

A few days after Walworth's tweets, SXSW organizers said they would consider amending the clause in the future, but stopped short of making an official decision. "We applaud SxSW's decision to stand with immigrants and against ICE, and are thrilled that collective action from musicians has worked to push a massive institution into taking a principled stand on an issue with ramifications far beyond next week's festival in Austin", they wrote. Today's statement also reiterates that SXSW has never reported any artist to USA immigration authorities.

SXSW's statement apologized for the contracts' language and said that the event "is a welcome and safe place for all people".

Organizers defended the language initially, arguing that the clause was in contracts for many years, and that the festival had "never reported global showcasing artists to immigration authorities".

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