After 2024 Protests, SXSW Rejects Ties to Gunmakers and US Military

After sponsorship ties to arms manufacturers and the U.S. military caused a stir at this year's South by Southwest, the festival announced it had cut ties with the parties months after they instigated boycotts.

The festival addressed the issue in a simple, brief message on its website: “After careful consideration, we are reviewing our sponsorship model. As a result, the U.S. military and companies engaged in weapons manufacturing will not be sponsors of SXSW 2025.”

It's not yet clear how much of weapons makers like Raytheon, now known as RTX Corp., and the U.S. military contributed to SXSW sponsorship. This decision, however, shows that the protests of participants and the boycott of more than 80 artists and speakers this year had meaning in the eyes of the festival.

Artist-led boycotts headline SXSW in 2024

At SXSW 2024, a group of artists scheduled to perform during the music portion of the festival took center stage after expressing their intention to boycott the festival in solidarity with Palestinians. The group also stated that they would not perform on the official lineup in protest of the festival's inclusion of defense contractors and U.S. military sponsorship.

Artists who participated in the boycott included Squirrel Flower (Ella Williams' stage name), Shalom, Mamalarky, TC Superstar, and Eliza McLamb. Williams appears to have instigated the boycott after an Instagram post announcing she was withdrawing from South by Southwest.

In the Instagram post, Williams wrote, “I have decided to withdraw from my official SXSW showcases in protest of SXSW's ties to the defense industry and in support of the Palestinian people. SXSW is bad for working musicians in many ways, but I am withdrawing specifically due to the fact that SXSW serves as a platform for defense contractors, including Raytheon subsidiaries, as well as the U.S. military, one of the festival's major sponsors.”

Furthermore, in a post to X, formerly TwitterMcLamb explained why she made the decision to no longer participate in the official festival: “I will never post my name or do my job for an event in the service of the American war machine, especially not now when they continue to fuel the ongoing violence against Palestinians. Blood money has no place in music. »

Beck Andrew Salgado covers news in Austin's business ecosystem for the American-Statesman. To share tips or additional information with Dirty, email [email protected].

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