SXSW festival cuts ties with US army after backlash over Palestine

SXSW festival cuts ties with US army after backlash over Palestine

The decision comes hot on the heels of the withdrawal of over 80 artists from the 2024 festival.
28 Jun, 2024

South by Southwest (SXSW), the renowned film, culture, and technology festival held annually in Austin, Texas, has announced it will discontinue its partnership with the US Army and defence contractor RTX Corporation for its 2025 festival.

The decision comes in response to backlash from artists, many of whom withdrew from the 2024 event in solidarity with Palestine.

In a statement released on Wednesday, SXSW outlined its revised sponsorship model: “After careful consideration, we are revising our sponsorship model. As a result, the US Army, and companies who engage in weapons manufacturing, will not be sponsors of SXSW 2025.”

The decision comes hot on the heels of the withdrawal of over 80 artists from the 2024 festival, citing the festival’s ties to RTX Corporation, highlighting the role of RTX in supplying weapons to the Israeli government, and its sponsorship by the US Army.

The boycott was spearheaded by Chicago-based songwriter Ella Williams, known as Squirrel Flower, who had shared in a statement, “I don’t believe that a music festival should include profiteers of war — I believe that art is a tool to create a better world and has no place alongside warmongers.”

The US Army had been listed as a “super sponsor” for the 2024 SXSW festival, with plans to present more than nine events. Collins Aerospace, a subsidiary of RTX Corporation, was set to sponsor two events at SXSW Pitch, the festival’s technology showcase.

RTX’s chairman and executive director, Greg Hayes, had previously remarked on an earnings call that the company stood to “benefit” from the increased US Department of Defence budget due to Israel’s war in Gaza.

Following Williams’ statement, other artists, including Brooklyn-based emo band Proper, Los Angeles-based indie band Mamalarky, and North Carolina-based singer-songwriter Eliza McLamb, also withdrew from the festival.

Initially, SXSW defended its partnerships while also acknowledging the artists’ rights to boycott. The festival stated: “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 defence industry has historically been a proving ground for many of the systems we rely on today. These institutions are often leaders in emerging technologies, and we believe it’s better to understand how their approach will impact our lives.”


Syed Hasni Jun 28, 2024 05:40pm
Whether it my blood or that of a stranger It is the blood of a human Whether war is in the west or in the east Its the murder of universal peace
Multani Jun 28, 2024 09:28pm
USA supports Israel, cannot support palestine
Multani Jun 28, 2024 09:29pm
Rightly spoken, Muslim blood is lost and no one is paying attention.
Tahir Raouf Jun 28, 2024 09:59pm
Arabs should learn a lesson
Tahmad Jun 29, 2024 03:27pm
100% agreed with Syed Hasni’s comments as above.
Tahmad Jun 29, 2024 03:32pm
Ex.US President Donald Trump still uses the words “horrible” and “disastrous” against his opponents in politics, I sees the Gaza killings of Palestinians civilians by Israelis soldiers is horrible and dangerous to our world.