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SXSW Makes Headlines by Cutting Ties with U.S. Army and Weapons Makers Amid Backlash

user2024-06-27 15:00

SXSW Cuts Ties With U.S. Army and Weapons Makers

After intense backlash from artists and activists, South by Southwest (SXSW) has announced it will no longer receive sponsorship from the U.S. Army and weapons manufacturers for its 2025 festival. The decision came after over 80 artists, including Irish rapper Kneecap and Dublin bands Sprints and Soda Blonde, pulled out of this year’s event to protest the festival’s association with the military and defense industry.

A Call for Ethical Sponsorship

The artists who withdrew from SXSW raised concerns about the U.S. military’s involvement in conflicts such as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Many expressed discomfort with the festival’s decision to partner with companies that supply weapons to countries accused of human rights violations.

“We cannot in good conscience attend an arts festival that has ‘The U.S Army’ as a ‘Super Sponsor’ and is platforming RTX (formerly Raytheon), Collins Aerospace, and BAE Systems, the very companies selling the weapons that have murdered 31,000 Palestinians,” said Kneecap in a statement.

A Model Shift

SXSW’s decision to end its sponsorship with the military comes as part of a broader reevaluation of its sponsorship model. In a statement on its website, SXSW said, “After careful consideration, we are revising our sponsorship model. As a result, the US Army, and companies who engage in weapons manufacturing, will not be sponsors of SXSW 2025.”

This move demonstrates a shift in the festival’s priorities, as it seeks to align itself with organizations and sponsors that share its values of peace and social justice.

Balancing Art and Politics

SXSW’s decision to cut ties with the military has sparked mixed reactions. While some praised the festival for taking a stand against weapons manufacturers, others expressed concern about the potential consequences for the festival’s financial stability.

However, SXSW’s commitment to ethical sponsorship sends a clear message to the music industry and beyond: that art and activism can go hand in hand. By choosing to distance itself from organizations that perpetuate violence, SXSW is taking a bold step toward creating a more inclusive and socially responsible entertainment landscape.

A Global Movement

SXSW’s decision is not an isolated incident. Around the world, artists and activists are calling for boycotts of companies and events that support the military-industrial complex. Inspired by the success of the SXSW boycott, artists in the United Kingdom have also withdrawn from festivals sponsored by Barclays bank, which has investments in arms companies.

These boycotts are part of a growing movement to hold corporations and institutions accountable for their ethical practices. By using their voices and platforms, artists and activists are challenging the normalization of violence and advocating for a more peaceful world.