SXSW 'Respects' Artists Boycotting U.S. Army Sponsorship and Israel

Texas governor Greg Abbott is slamming the artists boycotting SXSW due to the festival’s U.S. Army sponsorship — but SXSW doesn’t want his support.

“Bands pull out of SXSW over U.S. Army sponsorship. Bye. Don’t come back,” Abbott wrote on X on Tuesday. “Austin remains the HQ for the Army Futures Command. San Antonio is Military City USA. We are proud of the U.S. military in Texas. If you don’t like it, don’t come here.”

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Abbott’s post refers to the many bands that have pulled out of SXSW’s music programming citing the U.S. military’s relationship with Israel and its role in the ongoing violence in Gaza. Perhaps most prominent of the boycotting artists is Kneecap, the Irish band that stars in the comedic biopic of the same name, who on Monday wrote that cancelling their appearance would have a “significant financial impact” on them but that “it isn’t an iota of hardship when compared with the unimaginable suffering being inflicted every minute of every day on the people of Gaza.”

About two hours after Abbott’s comments, the festival’s official Instagram account posted a statement in response.

“SXSW does not agree with Governor Abbott,” the statement reads. “We are an organization that welcomes diverse viewpoints. Music is the soul of SXSW, and it has long been our legacy. We fully respect the decision these artists made to exercise their right to free speech. Across the globe, we are witnessing unspeakable tragedies, the rise of repressive regimes, and the increasing spread of violent conflict. It’s more crucial than ever that we come together to solve these greater humanitarian issues.”

The statement then goes on to outline the festival’s explanation for its collaboration with the military.

“The defense industry has historically been a proving ground for many of the systems we rely on today,” it says. “These institutions are often leaders in emerging technologies, and we believe it’s better to understand how their approach will impact our lives. The Army’s sponsorship is part of our commitment to bring forward ideas that shape our world. In regard to Collins Aerospace, they participated this year as a sponsor of two SXSW Pitch categories, giving entrepreneurs visibility and funding for potentially game-changing work.”

The post concludes: “We have and will continue to support human rights for all. The situation in the Middle East is tragic, and it illuminates the heightened importance of standing together against injustice.”

The artist boycotts haven’t been the only action taken against SXSW’s Army sponsorship: On the first day of the festival, attendees gathered for a pro-Palestine rally outside of the Austin Convention Center.

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