Ice Cube performs at the Doritos Stage during SXSW on Thursday, March 14, 2013.

Ice Cube performs at the Doritos Stage during SXSW on Thursday, March 14, 2013.

Ricardo Brazziell/Austin American-Statesman

Update March 8 at 1 p.m.: SXSW will remove the controversial clause about deporting bands in its artist agreement beginning in 2018, according to a statement. Should something goes awry concerning an international musician, the festival will work with local authorities to handle the situation instead of U.S. immigration services, it said. 

SXSW, which has never reported an artist to immigration authorities, issued the statement on Wednesday, two days after President Donald Trump signed a new version of the controversial travel ban, which bars new visas for citizens in six primarily Muslim countries and shuts down America's refugee program. 

"In this political climate, especially as it relates to immigration, we recognize the heightened importance of standing together against injustice," SXSW said in a statement.

Original post:

South By Southwest music, film and technology conference in Austin doesn't kick off for another week, but it was at the center of a social media controversy Thursday after one of the bands canceled and alleged the festival was going to deport international acts for playing at unofficial showcases.

Felix Walworth of Brooklyn-based band Told Slant tweeted a screenshot of the artist contract at 1:38 p.m., stating, "After looking through this contract sent to me by sxsw I have decided to cancel Told Slant's performance at the festival." (The AV Club picked up the story and published it under the headline "SXSW threatens international artists with deportation for playing unofficial shows." It has since changed that.)

The tweet and several subsequent ones almost instantly went viral, but representatives from SXSW say the language was taken out of context.

SXSW Managing Director Roland Swenson told the Austin Chronicle the images of that contract were manipulated, cutting and pasting two different portions of the document together in a misleading way, though Walworth disputed this on Twitter with a video of someone scrolling through the contract.

"It's intended for someone who does something really egregious like disobeying our rules for pyrotechnics, starts a brawl in a club, or kills somebody," Swenson told the Chronicle. "You have to really [expletive] up for us to do this stuff."

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In an official statement provided to GuideLive, Swenson says the language relates specifically to international bands that SXSW works with to waive the need for a visa, which can often be costly and time-consuming to procure. 

"Moreover, there is language in the Performance Agreement which is included to inform foreign artists that the U.S. immigration authorities have mechanisms to create trouble for artists who ignore U.S. immigration laws. For example, those acts coming to SXSW to perform without a work visa are limited, by U.S. immigration law, to performing their showcase event only. If an artist wishes to perform elsewhere, they will require a work visa," the statement reads.

It continues:

"As such, both to protect SXSW and the interests of all the participating artists, we long ago added this language to our Performance Agreement:

1.4. Foreign Artists entering the country through the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), B visa or any non-work visa may not perform at any public or unofficial shows, DAY OR NIGHT, in Austin from March 10-19, 2017. Accepting and performing at unofficial events (including unofficial events aside from SXSW Music dates during their visit to the United States) may result in immediate deportation, revoked passport and denied entry by US Customs Border Patrol at US ports of entry. For more information, please visit these pages:

1.4.1.(B Visa / ESTA) http://travel.state.gov/content/visas/en/business.html

1.4.2.(Work Visas) http://travel.state.gov/content/visas/en/employment/temporary.html

1.4.3.SXSW general visa FAQ: http://www.sxsw.com/travel/visa-faq."

As far as playing unofficial SXSW showcases, which have commonly been held at bars, restaurants, record stores and even lumberyards for many years and often times for free, Swenson's statement says the language "is, and always was intended to be, a safeguard to provide SXSW with a means to respond to an act that does something truly egregious, such as disobeying our rules about pyrotechnics on stage, starting a brawl in a club, or causing serious safety issues."

SXSW was notably one of the organizations that spoke out publicly against President Donald Trump's immigration ban on travelers from Muslim countries.

"We stand against discriminatory laws and unequivocally support civil rights for all persons everywhere," the festival said at that time.

See SXSW's full statement about the alleged deportation of international bands below:

SXSW Official Statement

Attributable to Roland Swenson, SXSW CEO and Co-Founder

SXSW has been vocal in its opposition to President Trump's Travel Ban and is working hard to build a coalition of attorneys to assist artists with issues at U.S. ports of entry during the event. We have artists from 62 countries from around the world performing and have always supported our international music community. We have never reported international showcasing artists to immigration authorities.

We were sorry to learn that one of our invited performers chose to cancel his performance at this year's SXSW Music Festival due to a misunderstanding of our policies regarding international artists.

We understand that given the current political climate surrounding immigration, the language that was published seems strong. Violating U.S. immigration law has always carried potentially severe consequences, and we would be remiss not to warn our participating acts of the likely repercussions.

Language governing SXSW's ability to protect a showcase has been in the artist Performance Agreement for many years. It is, and always was intended to be, a safeguard to provide SXSW with a means to respond to an act that does something truly egregious, such as disobeying our rules about pyrotechnics on stage, starting a brawl in a club, or causing serious safety issues.

The SXSW Performance Agreement states:

If SXSW determines, in its sole discretion, that Artist or its representatives have acted in ways that adversely affect the viability of Artist's official SXSW showcase, the following actions are available to SXSW:

○ Artist will be removed from their official SXSW showcase and, at SXSW's sole option, replaced.

○ Any hotels booked via SXSW Housing will be canceled.

○ Artist's credentials will be canceled.

○ SXSW will notify the appropriate U.S. immigration authorities of the above actions.

We hope never to be put in the position to act on this. Indeed, we spend a great deal of time communicating with international artists concerning numerous issues, including how to avoid issues at U.S. ports of entry.

Moreover, there is language in the Performance Agreement which is included to inform foreign artists that the U.S. immigration authorities have mechanisms to create trouble for artists who ignore U.S. immigration laws. For example, those acts coming to SXSW to perform without a work visa are limited, by U.S. immigration law, to performing their showcase event only. If an artist wishes to perform elsewhere, they will require a work visa.

As such, both to protect SXSW and the interests of all the participating artists, we long ago added this language to our Performance Agreement:

1.4. Foreign Artists entering the country through the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), B visa or any non-work visa may not perform at any public or unofficial shows, DAY OR NIGHT, in Austin from March 10-19, 2017. Accepting and performing at unofficial events (including unofficial events aside from SXSW Music dates during their visit to the United States) may result in immediate deportation, revoked passport and denied entry by US Customs Border Patrol at US ports of entry. For more information, please visit these pages:

1.4.1.(B Visa / ESTA) http://travel.state.gov/content/visas/en/business.html

1.4.2.(Work Visas) http://travel.state.gov/content/visas/en/employment/temporary.html

1.4.3.SXSW general visa FAQ: http://www.sxsw.com/travel/visa-faq

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