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SXSW responds to artist contract backlash, apologizes to Told Slant

Told Slant at Baby's All Right
Told Slant photo by Amanda Hatfield (more)

SXSW controversy was stirred up after Brooklyn’s own Told Slant tweeted about the SXSW artist contract on Thursday (3/2). Several more artists — including Downtown Boys, Priests, Anti-Flag, Immortal Technique, Killer Mike, Sheer Mag, Sadie Dupuis, Allison Crutchfield, Ted Leo, Power Trip, and more — then wrote an open letter to SXSW. Now SXSW posted a statement in response:

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.

The Told Slant tweet in question was the following:

The apology given to Told Slant in SXSW’s new statement was a reference to a previous statement SXSW managing director Roland Swenson he issued to austin360 yesterday, where he said the language Told Slant tweeted comes from “two different parts of the artist agreement.” Told Slant later tweeted a video proving that claim was not true.

The open letter referenced above is titled “Stop threatening international bands with deportation.” Here are the demands that were made in it:

* SXSW must rescind the portion of their contract that states that if they found out that an artist is playing an unofficial showcase they will “notify the appropriate U.S. Immigration authorities of the above actions,” and “accepting and performing at any non-sanctioned events may result in immediate deportation, revoked passport, and denied entry by US Customs Border Patrol at US points of entry.”

* SXSW must publicly apologize to the community for their attempt to collaborate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

* SXSW must affirm that it is a welcoming space for all artists, including immigrants and international performers, and commit to protecting the rights of all performers.

Read the rest here.

In related news, Garth Brooks was added to SXSW as a keynote speaker.

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