UPDATE: SXSW Threatens Deportation for International Artists Who Play Unofficial Shows, Festival Responds
SXSW is cracking down on invited bands that play elsewhere during the annual Austin-based music showcase, leading to a cancellation by at least one act.
Brooklyn-based Told Slant has pulled out, citing a policy to notify immigration authorities if the festival determines that participating international groups or their representatives "have acted in ways that adversely affect the viability of their official SXSW showcase." Specifically, that means taking part in "any public or non-sanctioned SXSW Music Festival DAY OR NIGHT shows in Austin from March 13-19, 2017."
Violating this rule, according to a contract posted to Twitter by Told Slant's Felix Walworth, "may result in immediate deportation, revoked passport, and denied entry by U.S. Customs Border Patrol at U.S. points of entry." He's now urging others to cancel.
This was to be Told Slant's first visit as an official artist, according to Stereogum. In the past, unsanctioned shows have been the norm more than the exception, and the contract has long warned against such appearances.
The typical violation by a U.S. artist, however, would lead to such things as canceled hotel accommodations and revoked SXSW badges, according to the AV Club. The risk for deported artists who have been admitted on a Visa Waiver Program, B visa or non-work visa is that they may now be unable to return to the U.S. in the wake of tightening immigration rules, the AV Club adds.
“After looking through this contract sent to me by SXSW, I have decided to cancel Told Slant's performance at the festival,” Walworth said. "I’m not interested in aligning myself with an institution that interacts with immigration authorities as a means of controlling where art is shared and performed, and who makes money off of it."
UPDATE: Roland Swenson, the festival's managing director, has responded to Walworth's accusation in the Austin Chronicle: "We’ve had these restrictions in the agreement for about five years and never had to enforce them. It’s intended for someone who does something really egregious like disobeying our rules for pyrotechnics, starts a brawl in a club, or kills somebody. You have to really f--- up for us to do this stuff."
Swenson added the festival has taken a stand public against President Donald Trump's immigration ban, and that they're doing a special show featuring musicians from the seven countries on the list. Part of the reason the provision exists, he continued, is "because the festival sort of sponsored [the bands]. So, if somebody did something bad enough that we had to enforce this part of the contract, we would probably be obliged to notify immigration that, ‘Hey these guys are trouble,’ but we’ve never had to do that.”
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