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SXSW drops US Army as sponsor for 2025 festival following boycotts over Israel-Hamas war

SXSW drops US Army as sponsor for 2025 festival
SXSW drops US Army as sponsor for 2025 festival Copyright SXSW - Getty Images
Copyright SXSW - Getty Images
By David Mouriquand
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South by Southwest - or SXSW - the annual US conglomeration of parallel film, interactive media, and music festivals has dropped its US Army sponsor following protests at this year's event.


Following a tumultuous year in which multiple acts opted out, SXSW festival have announced that they have dropped the US Army and defense contractor RTX Corporation as sponsors for next year’s edition.  

More than 60 artists refused to play at the festival in Austin, Texas last March, boycotting the event because of its ties to defense groups that supply Israeli weapons in the ongoing Israel-Hamas war.  

Shortly before the festival began, Squirrel Flower cancelled their SXSW shows, citing festival sponsorship from the US Army. In a statement, Squirrel Flower wrote: “A music festival should not include war profiteers. I refuse to be complicit in this and withdraw my art and labor in protest.”

Other artists which boycotted the event included Kneecap, Gruff Rhys, Lambrini Girls and Rachel Chinouriri.  

The US Army said it was “proud” to sponsor SXSW, which it called “a unique opportunity”, and in the wake of those cancellations, Texas governor Greg Abbott said on X: “Bands pull out of SXSW over U.S. Army sponsorship. Bye. Don’t come back.” 

At the time, SXSW responded to the cancellations by releasing a statement: “We are an organisation 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.” 

The festival added: “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.” 

Now, the festival has shared a statement on its website announcing that they have cut ties with the US Army and defense contractor RTX Corporation.  

“After careful consideration of our offerings, we are revising our sponsorship model,” read the statement. “As a result, the US Army, and companies who engage in weapons manufacturing, will not be sponsors of SXSW 2025.” 

The dropping of its controversial sponsors should give hope to those in the UK who have similarly boycotted various music festivals over their ties with Barclays, the bank which has financial investment in companies that supply arms to Israel - something highlighted by groups such as the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC), who have revealed the bank's investments of over £1 billion in shares and providing over £3 billion in loans.   

After the mass exodus of artists at The Great Escape, more dropped out of this year’s Download Festival and have already started to boycott next month's Latitude

Next year’s edition of the SXSW festival is set to take place from 7-15 March 2025. 

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