SXSW artists and speakers withdraw from festival in protest of sponsorship by military and defense industries

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Some artists have pulled out of the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, in recent days.


Dozens of artists and speakers have canceled their appearances at the ongoing South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, in protest of the event's sponsorship by the US military and defense companies amid the war between Israel and Hamas.

Protesting bands, singers and committee members exchanged messages of solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza as they announced their withdrawal from the south by southwest – which runs until March 16 – citing sponsorship of a major event by the US military and a handful of smaller defense industry partnerships against the occupation. background US government support for Israel in the war.

Artists boycotting the campaign as of Tuesday were primarily small bands and independent artists, who largely announced their decisions on social media.

Singer-songwriter Ella Williams, who performs under the name Squirrel Flower, was among the first to withdraw, saying last week that she would boycott the show. The annual technology, film and music event “in protest of SXSW's ties to the defense industry and in support of the Palestinian people.”

Army is one of SXSW's sixSuper sponsorsAt least three of the festival's events were sponsored by companies with ties to the defense industry.

The United States has provided strong support Military aid To Israel following the October 7 Hamas attacks that killed more than 1,200 people in Israel Divisions Disagreements emerged between the leaders of the two countries regarding the increasing civilian casualties in Gaza. Since Israel declared war on Hamas, more than 31,000 people have been killed in Gaza and more than 72,000 have been injured, according to United Nations estimates. Ministry of Health In the besieged pocket.

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“A music festival should not include war profiteers. I refuse to be complicit in this and withdraw my art and work in protest,” Williams said. Posted on Instagram.

Army spokeswoman Ellen Lovett said the military branch was proud to sponsor him.

“We are proud to be a sponsor of SXSW and to have the opportunity to showcase the U.S. military,” Lovett said in a statement to CNN. “SXSW offers a unique opportunity for the Army to meet technology innovators and leaders, explore new ideas and insights, and create dynamic industry partnerships as we modernize for the future.”

Some boycotting artists have canceled their official festival appearances, but will continue with other scheduled performances in Austin, including R&B artist Yaya byesinger May Simmons And a punk band Frown.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott responded to the protest in Social media sharing Tuesday, saying, “Goodbye. Don't come back.”

“We are proud of the US Army in Texas. “If you don't like it, don't come here,” Abbott said on X.

SXSW “disagree” with governor's stance on boycott, SXSW organizers said in a Series of posts on the X Festival account.

“We fully respect the decision taken by these artists to exercise their right to freedom of expression,” a festival post read. SXSW organizers continued to defend their decision to accept sponsors.

“The defense industry has historically served as a proving ground for many of the systems we rely on today. These organizations are often leaders in emerging technologies, and we believe we have a better understanding of how their approach will impact our lives. Sponsoring the military is part of our commitment to delivering ideas that Shaping our world. reads the SXSW post series.

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SXSW attracted more than 340,000 attendees last year, organizers said He said, and generally hosts a sprawling array of conferences, panels, music performances, film screenings, and exhibitions. Its activities this year included panels with Actress Selena Gomez; Meghan, Duchess of Sussex; And the investor Mark Cuban.

The festival continues to “support human rights for all,” as stated in SXSW publications.

The statement added, “The situation in the Middle East is tragic, and it highlights the growing importance of standing together against injustice.”

A mass meeting is scheduled to be held on this issue Thursday evening Outside of SXSW, hosted by the Austin Coalition for Palestine and… United Musicians and Allied Workersa group of advocates for fairer wages and working standards for musical artists.

CNN's Haley Britsky contributed to this report.

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