Yesterday, attention was drawn to a clause in SXSW’s artist contract that gave the festival the option to report international acts to immigration authorities if the artists “acted in ways that adversely affect the viability of their official SXSW showcase.” The clause has been present in the contract since 2013, but it bears more weight in a presidential administration that very vocally encouraged a crackdown on immigration. A number of participating official artists signed a letter demanding that the festival remove the deportation clause.
Today. SXSW has issued a statement saying that they will review and amend the language in their 2018 contracts. “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,” it reads. “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.”
Here’s the full statement:
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.
UPDATE 3/7: SXSW has issued another statement further clarifying what they call their “commitment to international artists.” See below:
With the announcement of President Trump’s latest Travel Ban, SXSW would like to reaffirm its public opposition to these executive orders and provide ongoing support to the artists traveling from foreign countries to our event.
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.
SXSW will do the following:
We will change the language in our artist invitation letter and performance agreement for 2018 and beyond.
We will remove the option of notifying immigration authorities in situations where a foreign artist might “adversely affect the viability of Artist’s official showcase.”
*Safety is a primary concern for SXSW, and we report any safety issues to local authorities. It is not SXSW’s duty or authority to escalate a matter beyond local authorities.
In this political climate, especially as it relates to immigration, we recognize the heightened importance of standing together against injustice.
While SXSW works to be in compliance with U.S. immigration law, it is important to know that:
SXSW has not, does not, and will not, disclose an artist’s immigration status, except when required by law.
SXSW does not have the power to deport anyone.
There are no “deportation clauses” in our current performance agreements. There will be no “deportation clauses” in our future participant agreements.
SXSW does not “collude with” any immigration agencies including ICE, CBP or USCIS to deport anyone.
Each year SXSW coordinates with hundreds of international acts coming to SXSW to try and mitigate issues at U.S. ports of entry. This year we are working to build a coalition of attorneys to assist any who face problems upon arrival in the States.
In the 31 years of SXSW’s existence, we have never reported any artist or participant to any immigration agency.
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.