The Controversy Behind Coachella

Harrison Sites, Staff Writer

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When the artist lineup for the 2017 Coachella festival was released on January 3, 2017 the major story surrounding the festival were the headlining acts including Beyoncé, Radiohead and Kendrick Lamar.

In less than 24 hours following the announcement of the artist lineup it was released that Phil Anschutz  has a long history of donating to groups that oppose Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) rights and organizations that deny climate change. Anschutz is a former oil tycoon and the owner and chief executive officer of Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG), the company which runs and operates Coachella.

Anschutz’s history of donating to far-right organizations clashes with the perceived notion of Coachella as a progressive and liberal festival due to the attendance of artists and attendees who commonly share more progressive and left-wing beliefs.

With the news of Anschutz’s history of donations conflicting with the perceived identity of the festival, many artists and attendees are rethinking what the festival really means and whether attending Coachella validates the opinions of Anschutz.

While artists such as Beyoncé and Kendrick Lamar could opt out of performing with hardly any consequences, Coachella has historically served as a platform for independent and newer artists to launch their careers and many artists do not have the option to protest Anschutz without risking a form of career suicide.

Despite that linking Coachella directly to Anschutz is challenging as Coachella was originally run by Goldenvoice a company which was made up of completely different people compared to those who work for AEG and whose main purpose was to find opportunities and quality venues for budding artists.

The fact that the history and culture of Coachella differ so profoundly form Anschutz’s beliefs raises the question of his real involvement in the festival and whether or not it is just another source of income for his company.

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