SXSW festival clarifies stance on deportation for international artists

The festival had been criticized for a clause some believed to be unfair.

— -- SXSW has changed its contract language in light of criticism over a clause that could have affected international acts.

In a statement issued today, the festival announced that in the future, organizers will "remove the option of notifying immigration authorities in situations where a foreign artist might 'adversely affect the viability of [the] artist’s official showcase,'" such as playing unofficial shows during the festival.

Some acts choose to do so to increase awareness of their music and have more intimate experiences with fans.

The statement added that while organizers have reserved the right to report any safety issues to local authorities, "it is not SXSW's duty or authority to escalate a matter beyond" that.

"With the announcement of President Trump’s latest travel ban, SXSW would like to reaffirm its public opposition to these executive orders and provide ongoing support to the artists traveling from foreign countries to our event," the statement said. "In this political climate, especially as it relates to immigration, we recognize the heightened importance of standing together against injustice."

Earlier this month, the band Told Slant announced that they were canceling their SXSW performance due to the controversial contract language. Immediately thereafter, several bands wrote an open letter in solidarity with Told Slant, demanding that SXSW remove the clause from contracts and issue a public apology for "their attempt to collaborate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement."

"SXSW must affirm that it is a welcoming space for all artists, including immigrants and international performers, and commit to protecting the rights of all performers," the letter read.

In the statement released today, SXSW organizers claimed that they do not and will not disclose an artist's immigration status except when required by law. The festival does not not "collude with" any immigration agencies, including ICE, organizers added.

"Each year SXSW coordinates with hundreds of international acts coming to SXSW to try and mitigate issues at U.S. ports of entry. This year we are working to build a coalition of attorneys to assist any who face problems upon arrival in the States," the statement concluded.

"In the 31 years of SXSW’s existence, we have never reported any artist or participant to any immigration agency. We would like to again apologize for the language in our agreements. We care deeply about the community we serve, and our event is a welcome and safe space for all people."