SXSW Bans US Army and Military Sponsorships Following Pressure from Protesters

SXSW bans military sponsorships
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SXSW bans military sponsorships
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Photo Credit: Carlos Alfonso

South by Southwest bans sponsorships from the US Army and other military branches for its 2025 festival, following pressure from protesters.

Several music acts dropped out of the 2024 South by Southwest (SXSW) lineup in response to the US Army’s sponsorship, citing the military’s relationship with Israel during the continuing war in Gaza. As a result, the festival announced its decision not to receive US military sponsorships in 2025. The decision comes after multiple protests and boycotts this year.

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

Texas governor Greg Abbott criticized the boycotts on social media, saying, “Bands pull out of SXSW over US Army sponsorship. Bye. Don’t come back. Austin remains the HQ for the Army Futures Command. San Antonio is Military City USA. We are proud of the US military in Texas. If you don’t like it, don’t come back.”

SXSW pushed back on Abbott’s statement, announcing that the festival “does not agree with Governor Abbott,” that it “fully respects the decision these artists made to exercise their right to free speech,” and that “the situation in the Middle East is tragic, and it illuminates the heightened importance of standing together against injustice.”

The festival’s statement regarding this year’s continued sponsorship from the Army and Collins Aerospace, a subsidiary of RTX, explained, “The defense 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.”

“The Army’s sponsorship is part of our commitment to bring forward ideas that shape our world. In regards to Collins Aerospace, they participated this year as a sponsor of two SXSW Pitch categories, giving entrepreneurs visibility and funding for potentially game-changing works.”

Among the bands who dropped out of this year’s SXSW lineup over sponsors like Collins Aerospace, the Irish group Kneecap explained that the “significant financial impact” they would incur by boycotting “isn’t an iota of hardship when compared with the unimaginable suffering being inflicted every minute of every day on the people of Gaza.”