SXSW To Alter Artist Contract After Immigration Flap

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AUSTIN (CBSDFW.COM) – A musician from New York last week said that he would not be performing at this year’s South By Southwest music festival in Austin due to a contract provision stating that U.S. immigration officials could be contacted if an international act violates the performance agreement.

Officials with SXSW now plan to change the language of their artist contract.

According to festival organizers, musician Felix Walworth — who goes by the stage name of Told Slant — misunderstood their policy. SXSW co-founder Roland Swenson called the contract clause a safeguard, to only be used if an artist does “something truly egregious.”

No artist in more than 30 years of the SXSW festival has been reported to immigration agents.

Swenson acknowledged that the current contract’s language “seems strong” in today’s political climate. With that in mind, the contract’s language will be changed beginning next year. In a notice posted Tuesday on the SXSW website, officials explained that they want to be supportive of international artists.

The new artist contract will remove threats about notifying immigration authorities.

“We recognize the heightened importance of standing together against injustice,” the online notice reads.

In an effort to ease the minds of international artists, SXSW officials also touched on some important reminders. The festival does not disclose an artist’s immigration status, nor do they have the power to deport anyone. The festival is also not colluding with immigration agencies.

“We would like to again apologize for the language in our agreements,” the online statement added. “We care deeply about the community we serve, and our event is a welcome and safe space for all people.” The SXSW music festival begins in Austin on March 13.

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