After a major uproar, the organizers of the South by Southwest festival in Austin have backed away from a controversial policy about immigration.
The policy, which appeared in standard contracts that the festival signed with performers, warned international artists that, if they did anything to "adversely affect the viability" of their appearance, they could be turned over to U.S. immigration authorities. On Tuesday, festival organizers announced that future contracts would remove the controversial passage.
In a statement posted to the festival's website, organizers wrote 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.
Accordingly, the nine-day showcase of tech, film, and music has pledged to "change the language in our artist invitation letter and performance agreement for 2018 and beyond," as well as "remove the option of notifying immigration authorities in situations where a foreign artist might 'adversely affect the viability of Artist’s official showcase.'"
The controversial policy first came to light when musician Told Slant posted a screenshot of the contract onto Twitter.
Later, after festival managing director Roland Swenson alleged that the image may have been doctored, Slant posted a video showing the full message.
the managing director of sxsw accused me of pasting together two parts of the contract to make it sound worse than it is. Here's a video: pic.twitter.com/wDaCBiCDBx
— Told Slant (@Felixixix666) March 2, 2017
In a statement posted on March 3, the festival also apologized directly to Slant for suggesting he may have falsified his tweet, saying "before we had clarity on the situation we believed this artist had taken our language out of context. We apologize for this error."
Following Slant's disclosure, a number of artists spoke out against the policy, signing an open letter to the festival, demanding the immigration policy be revoked, and the festival apologize.
In their statement announcing the policy change, SXSW organizers seemed to do just that, reiterating their commitment to "standing together against injustice," and noting that, "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," festival organizers wrote. "We care deeply about the community we serve, and our event is a welcome and safe space for all people."