Following some controversy around the festival itself, SXSW has released a statement in support of Austin’s decision to oppose anti-immigration legislation in Texas.
As first reported by Consequence of Sound, the law in question is Texas Senate Bill 4, which seeks to enforce federal immigration requirements in so-called sanctuary cities and allow law enforcement officers to ask arrested parties about their citizenship status. The city of San Antonio filed a lawsuit against the state of Texas challenging the legality of SB4, and Austin decided to attach their support to the legal action shortly thereafter.
Following suit, SXSW CEO Roland Swenson filed an affidavit to the lawsuit to show his support with the following statement:
“Today, the City of Austin filed the affidavit of SXSW’s CEO, Roland Swenson, in support of its lawsuit against the State of Texas, which challenges the constitutionality of SB4.
We are concerned that SB4 will substantially limit the participation of U.S. citizens and foreign nationals in SXSW and limit the diversity and quality of the event. This decrease in participation will also diminish our substantial economic contribution to the City of Austin and the State of Texas.
SXSW was born in Austin. The event is steeped in the city and the city is our home. We stand behind the City and Mayor Adler, and we intend to stay and fight discriminatory legislation that hinders civil rights, while continuing to work to make our events inclusive and safe for all who attend.
SXSW has become embedded in the fabric of Austin and is more or less synonymous with the city. Swenson may have refused to move the festival (an act that would be a logistical and financial nightmare), but the institution’s support carries weight. Here’s hoping their involvement plays a part in the repeal of this racist, small-minded bill.”
The last paragraph refers to two Senators’ request that Swenson relocate the festival temporarily until SB4 is repealed, which Swenson politely declined while publicly stating that he would “stay here and continue to make our event inclusive while fighting for the rights of all.”
But that wasn’t the only controversy that SXSW found itself embroiled in leading up to their 2017 installment. Due to a clause in the festival’s artist agreements having to do with the potential deportation of international acts, many bands accused SXSW of xenophobic practices.
Coupled with a recent change to the wording in the festival’s contracts, Swenson hopes that his statement today convinces international artists and festival attendees of his commitment to an open and tolerant environment.
For those who managed to shrug off the controversies surrounding both the festival and the Lonestar State, SXSW offered yet another stellar year of amazing music, arts, technology and film. Highlights included a surprise performance from Lana Del Rey, Garth Brooks headlining at Ladybird Lake, and Erykah Badu and Redman taking the stage with the Wu Tang Clan.
For more details about everything that went down at this year’s SXSW, read our wrap up:mxdwn Best of SXSW 2017.