SXSW International Artists Are Freaking Out Over Deportation Threat in Contract

SXSW has apparently threatened international artists with deportation should they engage in performances outside the festival’s scope of approval.

Felix Walworth, a band member of Told Slant, Eskimeaux and Bellows, took to Twitter to share parts of the contract he reportedly received for this year’s SXSW festival in Austin, Texas. Why he did so is pretty obvious—international artists like himself should be cautious as soon as they step on American soil.

The contract details the consequences of engaging in performances outside the official SXSW showcase. Walworth posted:

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Walworth is not exactly pleased with what he read, so he decided to cancel Told Slant’s slot and urged other acts to follow his lead:

According to Stereogum, official artists “frequently play unofficial shows” not sanctioned by SXSW. The clause isn’t new either, but because of the current administration’s crackdown on illegal immigrants, such things are seen in a different light.

In response, SXSW managing director Roland Swenson claimed via Austin 360 that Walworth’s interpretation comes from “two different parts of the artist agreement” pasted together to portray “a much worse impression than what is real.”

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Swenson explained that lower part of Walworth’s tweet (regarding entry via non-work visa programs) means SXSW will simply inform artists what immigration authorities would do in case they violate visa policies. He said the upper part came from another section of the contract which applies to performers or reps who “have acted in ways that adversely affect the viability of their official SXSW showcase.”

As for the notification of immigration authorities, Swenson said it could happen only “if somebody did something really horrific, like disobey rules about pyrotechnics, starting a brawl, or if they killed somebody.”

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