Texas' SXSW festival drops U.S. Army, weapons manufacturers as sponsors

The move comes after pro-Palestinian activists accused the festival of being complicit in human rights violations.

click to enlarge A musician performs at SXSW 2023. - Jaime Monzon
Jaime Monzon
A musician performs at SXSW 2023.
After activists earlier this year accused Austin's SXSW festival of being "complicit in human rights abuses," organizers of the annual gathering revealed that, starring next year, the U.S. Army and arms manufacturers will no longer be welcome as sponsors.

SXSW brass quietly announced the change this week on the festival's FAQ page under the question, "Will the U.S. Army be a sponsor of SXSW 2025?"

"After careful consideration, we are revising our sponsorship model," SXSW posted. "As a result, the U.S. Army and companies who engage in weapons manufacturing, will not be sponsors of SXSW 2025."

The move comes after more than 80 musical acts and panelists backed out of the film, music and education festival 2024, which occurred in March. The boycott followed a protest organized by the Austin for Palestine Coalition, which accused SXSW of facilitating human rights abuses by allowing the U.S. Army and weapons manufacturers BAE Systems and Collins Aerospace to buy sponsorships.

"Austin is fed up with the normalization of militarization at SXSW and platforming war profiteers who are making a killing from the genocide in Palestine," Austin for Palestine wrote in a March 11 Instagram post.

The Austin for Palestine Coalition praised SXSW's decision to end sponsorships from weapons companies and the U.S. Army.

"We commend SXSW for listening to the demands of the artists," the coalition wrote Wednesday. "We urge SXSW to give further clarification regarding refusing to invite war profiteers as exhibitors or speakers."

The next SXSW will take place March 7-15, 2025.

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Michael Karlis

Michael Karlis is a Staff Writer at the San Antonio Current. He is a graduate of American University in Washington, D.C., whose work has been featured in Salon, Alternet, Creative Loafing Tampa Bay, Orlando Weekly, NewsBreak, 420 Magazine and Mexico Travel Today. He reports primarily on breaking news, politics...

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