While Coachella has always espoused a welcoming, open environment that books left-leaning artists who undoubtedly attract a more liberal-thinking audience, that doesn’t totally jive with the political and charitable history of Philip Anschutz, founder of AEG, owner of Goldenvoice and co-owner of Coachella Music and Arts Festival. He’s already been accused of donating to right-wing organizations with anti-LGBTQ and anti-immigrant views, to which he responded by calling the reports that he himself is anti-LGBTQ is “fake news” and “garbage.” Since those donations were exposed, Anschutz has made it clear he stopped donating to those specific organizations that got him in hot water: Alliance Defending Freedom, Family Research Council, and National Christian Foundation. When the Anschutz Foundation’s taxes were filed later that year, the claims were confirmed. After going viral right at the time Coachella tickets were on sale, hashtags were released on social media to #BoycottCoachella.
After the Anschutz foundation’s taxes were filed for the period between December 2015 and November 2016, documents were obtained by Pitchfork have revealed that while he did in fact stop donating to those three organizations, he has continued to contribute to other right-leaning organization.
The Navigators, were given a $40,000 donation November 2016, despite their remarks of “sexual brokenness” being a reason for the large growing LGBTQ community, listing this alongside sexual abuse and incest. Dare 2 Share Ministeries was another organization that received donations in August of 2016,whose CEO affiliated homosexuality as a “santanic prevision of God’s gift of sex.” Moving on, we find Young Life, a Christian youth ministry who refused the opportunity of accepting volunteers that had any affiliation with “sexual activity outside of metrosexual marriage.” Another largely funded organization was the Centre for Urban Renewal & Education, in August 23rd 2016, this group’s founder and president, Star Parker, said on “Fox & Friends” last year that the Confederate flag and the rainbow LGBTQ pride flag “represent the exact same thing.” While later stating that gay marriage and legal abortion shows how “we’re sick as a country.” Finally, the Movieguide awards, in July 2016, $25,000 was donated to an award show that is held by Movieguide. Now, the founder of Movieguide, Ted Baehr and editor Tom Snyer found themselves in a very controversial situation when they referred to “evils like adultery, rape, homosexuality, lying, arrogance, theft, murder, and malice” as things of the same nature. While other sources confirmed their stance on the “unnatural” and “destructive” nature of homosexuality.
Although these groups are not overtly known for their stance against homosexuality, it’s clear from statements that their beliefs on homosexuality are not “liberal.” Nonetheless Anschutz’s lawyer insists otherwise in a statement:
“One year ago we stated publicly that we unequivocally support the rights of all people without regard to sexual orientation. We stand by those words and reaffirm the commitment we made at that time that The Anschutz Foundation would not knowingly fund any organization that would support anti-LGBTQ initiatives.
Over the past year, the Foundation has stopped funding certain organizations after it was brought to our attention that some of their activities were inconsistent with our values. This is an ongoing process in which we continue to investigate the organizations that we support, as some of these groups may have initiatives that extend beyond the scope of the objectives sought by the Foundation in supporting them. We are proud of the progress we have made in this regard, but there is always room for improvement to ensure the charitable giving of the Foundation does not unintentionally extend to groups that violate principles that are important to us. The Foundation receives requests for donations from thousands of organizations every year and donates to approximately 800 entities annually. If our systems have failed to identify some activities that we do not support, we will stop funding those organizations as we learn more.
On occasion, it has been brought to our attention that certain groups previously supported by the Foundation may have policies or practices relating to the LGBTQ community that could be of concern. In those situations, we carefully assess the concerns to determine if in fact any organization we have supported is taking positions or practicing policies that are intolerant of, or discriminatory toward, the LGBTQ community. If we find problematic activities, we first look to work with those organizations to effectuate positive change if we perceive they are open to hearing and responding to our feedback. Ultimately, if these efforts prove unsatisfactory, we will withdraw further support from those groups.”
Moreover, the 2016 filings shows that Anschutz Foundation gave to dozens of conservatives and libertarian organizations. But what has arguably played a bigger role in Anschutz planning of Coachella is the conservative ideology. An example of this is his banning of marijuana, despite it being legal in California. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, he personally gave more than $1 million in support of Republicans during the 2016 election cycle, though none of it went to President Trump. He gave almost $200,000 to Republicans in 2017.
With artist such as Beyonce, The Weeknd and Eminem,headlining the festival, it will be interesting to see how 2018 Coachellas artists and fans take on overcoming what appear to be the right-wing world views of the event’s owner Philip Anschutz.