Border Control Login

Texas music festival and industry conference South By Southwest (SXSW) has issued a statement after artists and speakers pulled out of the event in support of Palestine.

The protests came due to event sponsorship from the U.S. military and Collins Aerospace (a subsidiary of the defense contractor RTX Corporation), amid the war between Israel and Hamas.

The boycott was said to have started by Chicago-based singer/songwriter Squirrel Flower, who published a statement on her Instagram on 4 March announcing her withdrawal.

On 12 March, Texas governor Greg Abbott posted on X: “Bands pull out of SXSW over U.S. Army Sponsorship. 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.”

In response, organisers of SXSW issued a statement, disagreeing with the governor: “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.”

It 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.”

Explaining its sponsorship with the US Army, SXSW added, “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.”