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SXSW vows to change immigration language in performer agreement

After criticism, SXSW vows to watch its language.


Audra Schroeder


Posted on Mar 7, 2017   Updated on May 24, 2021, 9:29 pm CDT

SXSW has decided to remove language from its performer contract that references immigration, after a tweet put the festival under a microscope last week.

According to KUT, the Austin, Texas, festival will be removing language from its performer contract that states that if international performers play unofficial SXSW shows, they could face deportation or “revoked” passport. Last week, SXSW Managing Director Roland Swenson claimed the language had been drafted years ago, and defended it as a standard protection for a festival that hosts international acts.

On Tuesday, SXSW posted an official statement on its website, vowing to change the immigration-related language in the contract for “2018 and beyond,” and “remove the option of notifying immigration authorities in situations where a foreign artist might ‘adversely affect the viability of Artist’s official showcase.’”

It added that SXSW “does not have the power to deport anyone,” and that in “this political climate, especially as it relates to immigration, we recognize the heightened importance of standing together against injustice.”

SXSW General Counsel Heather Liberman told KUT it was a matter of clarification, and that though the language was drafted in 2013, it only started to be distributed last year. She also acknowledged that “in light of the current political climate, this type of language is a lot scarier than perhaps when it was originally drafted a number of years ago.”

SXSW maintains that it is a “welcome and safe space for all people.”



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*First Published: Mar 7, 2017, 4:37 pm CST