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SXSW Drops Army, Weapons Sponsorship Due to Israel-Palestine Protests

South by Southwest will not receive sponsorship from the U.S. Army for its 2025 festival, a decision made after multiple pro-Palestinian protests and boycotts earlier this year.

“After careful consideration, we are revising our sponsorship model,” reads a statement on the SXSW website. The announcement also notes that “companies who engage in weapons manufacturing” will no longer be SXSW sponsors, which would exclude 2024 sponsor Collins Aerospace, a subsidiary of RTX (formerly Raytheon).

Several music acts dropped out of the 2024 SXSW lineup in response to the Army sponsorship, citing the U.S. military’s relationship with Israel during the ongoing war in Gaza. Among the protestors was the Irish group Kneecap, who wrote that the “significant financial impact” they’d 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.”

Texas governor Greg Abbott criticized the boycotts on X, writing, ““Bands pull out of SXSW over U.S. 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 U.S. military in Texas. If you don’t like it, don’t come here.”

But SXSW pushed back on Abbott’s statement shortly afterward, saying that the festival “fully respect[ed] 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.”

Explaining why SXSW chose to work with the Army and Collins, the statement said, “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 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.”

It is unclear whether the military or weapons manufacturing companies will still participate in SXSW outside of a sponsorship capacity. Variety has reached out to the festival for comment.

(Disclosure: Variety and SXSW share a common owner in PMC.)

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