US Soldier saluting SXSW

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‘After careful consideration’: SXSW announces U.S. Army and Raytheon will not be sponsors for 2025 after controversy

The change comes after a controversial 2024 that saw over 80 performers drop out.

 

Braden Bjella

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In a statement posted on the festival’s website, the Austin, Texas-based South By Southwest festival has officially announced that it would no longer be having the U.S. Army as a sponsor for the SXSW 2025 festival.

“After careful consideration of our offerings, we are revising our sponsorship model,” the statement reads. “As a result, the US Army, and companies who engage in weapons manufacturing, will not be sponsors of SXSW 2025.”

The announcement came alongside the season launch of SXSW 2025. As of today, “Applications are now open for SXSW 2025 participation categories including PanelPicker session proposals, Music Festival Showcasing Artists, and two tech-centered competitions, SXSW Pitch and Innovation Awards,” per the SXSW website.

Why it matters

The 2024 edition of SXSW, which occurred in March of this year, saw many artists engage in protests against the festival specifically due to their acceptance of funding from the U.S. Army and companies engaged in arms manufacturing.

As previously reported by Laiken Neumann for the Daily Dot, artists had called out the festival “for accepting funding from the U.S. Army, and participation from Collins Aerospace, a subsidiary of RTX (Raytheon), a company that supplies weapons to the Israeli government,” which held “two events as part of the festival’s tech showcase.”

While some of these protests took the form of on-stage denunciations, other artists canceled their appearances entirely. According to the Texas Tribune, more than 80 artists and panelists pulled out of the festival in protest.

SXSW changes course

When this controversy first arose, SXSW defended their acceptance of these controversial partnerships.

In a statement posted to X (formerly Twitter), the festival wrote, “The defense industry has historically been a proving ground for many of the systems we rely on today. These institutions are often leaders in emerging technologies, and we believe it’s better to understand how their approach will impact our lives.”

“The Army’s sponsorship is part of our commitment to bring forward ideas that shape our world. In regard to Collins Aerospace, they participated this year as a sponsor of two SXSW Pitch categories, giving entrepreneurs visibility and funding for potentially game-changing work,” the statement continued in a follow-up post.

Now, SXSW appears to be changing course for its 2025 festivities. The organization states that the U.S. Army will not sponsor the event, and that “companies who engage in weapons manufacturing” are also not welcome to sponsor the festival’s 2025 edition.

It is unclear whether representatives from these organizations will be able to participate in panel discussions or take other roles in the festival; the Daily Dot has reached out to SXSW via website contact form for clarification. 

 
The Daily Dot