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International Artists are Boycotting SXSW After Discovering a Deportation Clause in Their Contracts

Some international acts have chosen to cancel their shows at SXSW festival after receiving contracts threatening possible deportation for unplanned shows

Every year, artists and musicians from around the world gather in Austin, Texas for South by Southwest (SXSW), one of the country's biggest arts, film and music festivals. This year, though, there might not be as many international acts in attendance as before.


While artists like Mr EaziRuntown and Maleek Berry are all scheduled to hit the SXSW stage for the "Sounds by African and the Caribbean" showcase, the festival is currently under fire for including an insensitive clause in their contracts for international performers. The policy states that artists could face deportation if they are found performing any unscheduled shows during the festival. "Accepting and performing at any non-sanctioned events may result in immediate deportation, revoked passport, and denied entry by US Customs Border Patrol at US points of entry," it says.

Felix Walworth, of the bands Told Slant, Eskimeaux, and Bellowsone is one of the international artists who received this contract. He made the contents public via his Twitter page and shared his thoughts on the policy.

"I'm not interested in aligning myself with an institution that interacts with immigration authorities as a means of controlling where art is shared and performed, and who makes money off of it, he remarked. "This festival uses an imperialist model and prioritizes centralizing and packaging culture over communities & people's safety."

Many are boycotting the festival in protest.

SXSW's CEO, Roland Swenson, released a statement responding to the backlash, in which he claims that Walworth misinterpreted the message and took it of context . Below is an excerpt from his statement:

SXSW has been vocal in its opposition to President Trump’s Travel Ban and is working hard to build a coalition of attorneys to assist artists with issues at U.S. ports of entry during the event. We have artists from 62 countries from around the world performing and have always supported our international music community. We have never reported international showcasing artists to immigration authorities.

We were sorry to learn that one of our invited performers chose to cancel his performance at this year’s SXSW Music Festival due to a misunderstanding of our policies regarding international artists.

We understand that given the current political climate surrounding immigration, the language that was published seems strong. Violating U.S. immigration law has always carried potentially severe consequences, and we would be remiss not to warn our participating acts of the likely repercussions.

Language governing SXSW’s ability to protect a showcase has been in the artist Performance Agreement for many years. It is, and always was intended to be, a safeguard to provide SXSW with a means to respond to an act that does something truly egregious, such as disobeying our rules about pyrotechnics on stage, starting a brawl in a club, or causing serious safety issues.

 

UPDATE 3/7/17: Following an open letter from a group of musicians urging SXSW to remove the clause and issue an apology, the festival has now issued a statement, rescinding its deportation clause. "In this political climate, especially as it relates to immigration, we recognize the heightened importance of standing together against injustice,"

Here is an extract from the newly released statement:

SXSW has not, does not, and will not, disclose an artist’s immigration status, except when required by law.

SXSW does not have the power to deport anyone.

There are no “deportation clauses” in our current performance agreements. There will be no “deportation clauses” in our future participant agreements.

SXSW does not “collude with” any immigration agencies including ICE, CBP or USCIS to deport anyone.

Each year SXSW coordinates with hundreds of international acts coming to SXSW to try and mitigate issues at U.S. ports of entry. This year we are working to build a coalition of attorneys to assist any who face problems upon arrival in the States.

In the 31 years of SXSW’s existence, we have never reported any artist or participant to any immigration agency.

We would like to again apologize for the language in our agreements. We care deeply about the community we serve, and our event is a welcome and safe space for all people.

 

Style
Image courtesy of Daily Paper

Wekafore Releases Fela Kuti Inspired Collab With Daily Paper

The one-of-a-kind 'The Spirit Don't Die' capsule collection celebrates African heritage and a hope for a brighter future.

Amsterdam-based African streetwear brand Daily Paper has joined Nigerian fashion brand Wekafore in creating a unique capsule collection of note. The 'The Spirit Don't Die' collection is inspired by fashion and Nigerian activism icon Fela Kuti, but celebrates the bountiful beauty, potential, and heritage of Africans.

Nigerian designer Wekaforé Maniu Jibril, owner, and designer of the Wekafore brand has been hot since his 2013 debut. The brand has gone on to become a great success within the realm of West African fashion. Wekaforé represents a newer, more fearless generation of African designers and their latest collaborative collection tells the tale.

Daily Paper x Wekaforé 'The Spirit Don't Die' collectionImage courtesy of Daily Paper


The two popular brands share a rich history and intention to further African fashion's reputation in the world, as well as as a shared desire for raw necessity, organic growth, and authentic community engagement, development and, support. The fashion brands are making it known that street and casual wear are more than we once thought - fashion can be inclusive and fun. The stars truly aligned to bring us this partnership guided by similar core values and the hunger to celebrate Africa and her diasporas through fashion.

The Fela Kuti-inspired collection is filled with distinctive and bold pieces, honoring Africa's past while paving the way towards the future. Wekafore is known for their clear integration of West Africa's 1970's cultural golden age, and this limited collection speaks to those themes, making it a no-brainer to dedicate the line to the legendary King of Afrobeat, whose style never disappointed. It's clear to see how Kuti's influence inspired the exciting and vibrant creative renaissance seen in the collection. On using Kuti as his muse, Wekaforé says, "Like Fela, the pieces are very punk, very psychedelic, and very African at the same time. And that represents me 100%. And I think being able to speak that way through a platform like Daily Paper is a testament to contemporary African consciousness."


Image courtesy of Daily Paper

Daily Paper x Wekafore 'The Spirit Don't Die' Collection

Check out more of Daily Paper x Wekafore's collection 'The Spirit Don't Die' collection here.

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