SXSW Addresses Protest Over U.S. Army Sponsorship

    Over the past week, more than 60 artists have pulled out of the 2024 edition of SXSW in protest of the festival’s ties to defense contractors and in support of the Palestinian people. The festival has now addressed protest on social media after Texas governor Greg Abbott tweeted about the situation.

    “Bands pull out of SXSW over U.S. Army sponsorship,” Abbott wrote, linking to a news article about the protest. “Bye. Don’t come back. Austin remains the HQ for the Army Futures Command. San Antonio is Military City USA. We are proud of the U.S. military in Texas. If you don’t like it, don’t come here.”

    The festival’s representatives wrote back in response: “SXSW does not agree with Governor Abbott. We are an organization that welcomes diverse viewpoints. Music is the soul of SXSW, and it has long been our legacy. We fully respect the decision these artists made to exercise their right to free speech.”

    Elaborating on its ties to the U.S. Army and Collins Aerospace, SXSW continued:

    Across the globe, we are witnessing unspeakable tragedies, the rise of repressive regimes, and the increasing spread of violent conflict. It’s more crucial than ever that we come together to solve these greater humanitarian issues.

    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.

    We have and will continue to support human rights for all. The situation in the Middle East is tragic, and it illuminates the heightened importance of standing together against injustice.

    Artists who have dropped off SXSW include Squirrel Flower, Shalom, Scowl, Kneecap, SPRINTS, Tomato Flower, Good Looks, Mamalarky, Lambrini Girls, Lip Critic, Horse Jumper of Love, Eliza McLamb, Strange Joy, Bloomsday, They Are Gutting a Body of Water, This is Lorelei, fantasy of a broken heart, Trauma Ray, Omni, The Armed, Allegra Krieger, Yaya Bey, cumgirl8, and more.

    Konstantinos Pappis
    Konstantinos Pappis
    Konstantinos Pappis is a writer, journalist, and music editor at Our Culture. His work has also appeared in Pitchfork, GIGsoup, and other publications. He currently lives in Athens, Greece.

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