The organizers of the South by Southwest Festival have issued a statement in support of a lawsuit the city of Austin filed against the state of Texas protesting Senate Bill 4, which would ban “sanctuary cities” in the state.
In a statement that questions the “constitutionality” of the controversial bill, SXSW CEO Roland Swenson said, “We are concerned that SB4 will substantially limit the participation of U.S. citizens and foreign nationals in SXSW and limit the diversity and quality of the event. This decrease in participation will also diminish our substantial economic contribution to the City of Austin and the State of Texas.”
Earlier this month, Democratic Senators Robert Menendez of New Jersey and Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada asked SXSW organizers to move the festival out of Austin until the anti-immigration bill is repealed. However, Swanson stated that SXSW would remain in Austin and “continue to make our event inclusive while fighting for the rights of all.”
In Monday’s statement, Swenson reiterated that stance, Pitchfork reports. “SXSW was born in Austin. The event is steeped in the city and the city is our home. We stand behind the City and Mayor Adler, and we intend to stay and fight discriminatory legislation that hinders civil rights, while continuing to work to make our events inclusive and safe for all who attend,” Swenson said.
In addition to Austin, Texas cities San Antonio and Dallas have also filed lawsuits challenging SB4, which Governor Greg Abbott signed into law in May. The bill is scheduled to go into effect September 1st.
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The 2017 SXSW Festival faced criticism this year for language in its performance agreement that appeared anti-immigrant. Following the outcry, organizers softened that language and promised to lessen the threat of deportation against international artists performing unsanctioned shows in SXSW’s 2018 performance agreement.
“In this political climate, especially as it relates to immigration, we recognize the heightened importance of standing together against injustice,” organizers said in March.