SXSW to Drop Controversial Deportation Clause in Artist Contracts Following Backlash

Lead Photo: Remezcla's SXSW Perreo Showcase
Remezcla's SXSW Perreo Showcase
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SXSW came under fire last week after Felix Walworth, a musician slated to play this year, cancelled their showcase when they learned about the deportation-related language in the festival’s performance agreements. The cancellation sparked debate surrounding the language in the artist contracts, raising questions about whether or not the clause is a standard legal safeguard, or whether the festival could have addressed its liability concerns without notifying federal immigration authorities. Artists like Downtown Boys, Immortal Technique, and Helado Negro signed an open letter decrying the statement from SXSW and demanding the festival rescind the clause.

Today, SXSW organizers released an official statement announcing they would eliminate the option of notifying federal immigration authorities in invitation letters and artist contracts for 2018 and beyond. The festival claims that it is committed to supporting international artists in light of President Trump’s amended travel ban, which bars citizens from six Muslim-majority nations from traveling to the United States. “In this political climate, especially as it relates to immigration, we recognize the heightened importance of standing together against injustice,” the statement reads. “We would like to again apologize for the language in our agreements. We care deeply about the community we serve, and our event is a welcome and safe space for all people.”

In the statement, the festival explains that they will instead notify local law enforcement if an artist does anything to “adversely affect the viability” of an official showcase. “It is not SXSW’s duty or authority to escalate a matter beyond local authorities,” they state.

Read the full statement on the SXSW website.