A big controversy has popped up over a tweet (see below) that outlines the language in the latest SXSW artist contracts which stipulates stipulates “SXSW will notify the appropriate immigration authorities” if an international artist tries to play either an official or unofficial show without the proper work visa. As a result, a number of international acts have cancelled their appearances at this year’s event.
With all the hysteria of the Trump administration travel ban into the US fresh on everyone’s mind, any kind of contract language that outlines immigration policies is bound to upset some people, but the fact of the matter is that this is nothing new in terms of SXSW or any other promoter. All promoters know that they must comply with Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) authorities, or things could get pretty miserable for them in short order. There’s been contract language to that effect in virtually all promoter’s contracts for decades when dealing with acts outside of the US. The promoter does not in any way want to be even remotely libel.
The fact of the matter is that SXSW has plenty on its plate already and being an ICE enforcer isn’t one of them. It’s never been known to report an act for a visa violation, and though they frown on unofficial shows, the festival has its hands full jsut making sure that its own shows run as planned.
Tweets have a way of riling people up and that’s happened way before the current president began posting. Celebrities, musicians, sports figures and politicians have been doing this ever since the service began, and this tweet is more of the same – an over-reaction rather than a look at reality.
So to break it down – 1. If you’re from outside the US, save yourself any possibility of a hassle and just get the proper work visa before you come to SXSW, and 2. If you get in trouble with ICE, SXSW will probably not be the cause of it.
You can read more about the controversy here, as well as read the reply from SXSW managing director Roland Swenson here.