SXSW clarifies immigration comment in contract after punk band pulls out

Festival organizers say they strongly oppose the presidents travel ban after a group dropped out of the event over wording in their contract

The organizers of SXSW have clarified that they strongly oppose Trumps travel ban and have never reported an act to the immigration authorities, after a group pulled out of the event over wording in their contract.

Felix Walworth, a member of lo-fi punk band Told Slant, cancelled his groups appearance after tweeting segments of the performers contract, which warns international artists that the event organizers they will inform immigration authorities about any acts that affect the viability of their official SXSW showcase with their actions.

Told Slant (@Felixixix666)

After looking through this contract sent to me by sxsw I have decided to cancel Told Slant’s performance at the festival pic.twitter.com/rI2Xv0duJl

March 2, 2017

In a statement SXSWs managing director, Roland Swenson, said that the organizers were sorry an act had decided to pull out due to a misunderstanding of our policies and that the festival has never reported international showcasing artists to immigration authorities.

Walworth followed that with a tweet that called for other artists to pull out of official showcases: Can our first step toward coalition as artists with radical politics be to cancel all our official showcases at SXSW?

Speaking with Austin 360 on Thursday afternoon, Swenson put the reaction down to heightened sensitivities now Donald Trump is in the White House, saying: In the post-Trump era, it looks different than how it was intended, and how it was received in the past. But weve come out strongly against the travel ban, and weve really been going the extra mile to make sure these bands dont get screwed over when they enter the country.

The SXSW statement added that warnings about possible repercussions for those who break US immigration law have been in the contracts for years. The contract refers to acts who are going to Austin to play official showcases and who dont have a work permit that would allow them to play other unofficial shows.

Swenson acknowledged that the language that was published seems strong, adding that they would only notify authorities if a performer did something truly egregious, such as disobeying our rules about pyrotechnics on stage, starting a brawl in a club, or causing serious safety issues.

The festival boss reiterated that the event was opposed to Trumps travel ban and that it had assembled a coalition of attorneys to assist acts suffering difficulty in trying to get to the festival from abroad.

We have artists from 62 countries from around the world performing and have always supported our international music community. We have never reported international showcasing artists to immigration authorities, he wrote.

This year at the festival a showcase will feature music from artists who come from countries affected by the ban. The event will include a performance from Iranian producer Ash Koosha, and will take place at the Palm Door in downtown Austin on 17 March.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/culture/2017/mar/02/sxsw-immigration-told-slant-contract-trump-travel-ban