McKenzie Schuessler, Opinions Editor
You may or may not have heard about the popular music and arts festival, Coachella. Coachella takes place every year in April for three consecutive weekends. The location is considered to be most like a ‘desert’ in Indio, California.
The festival has become one of the most anticipated events of the year with a wide range of artists performing each weekend. Many celebrities, social media influencers and avid Coachella fans go to show off their unique styles and have a weekend of fun. Many might even say that Coachella is the most perfect ‘instagramable’ location.
The Coachella festival was first established in 1999 by co-founders Paul Tollett and Rick Van Santen and organized by Goldenvoice, a subsidiary of the Anschutz Entertainment Group. The organizers struggled to make a profit from the festival and did not have another Coachella until 2001, and since then they have had impressive success every year and continue to grow.
The issue at hand today is not that Coachella is a racist, bigoted event; it’s that the organization, Goldenvoice, is ran by a racist, far-right, bigoted man. Through the Anschutz Entertainment Group, Philip Anschutz owns the Coachella Music and Arts Festival. In due part to the rising divisive political climate, Anschutz has been under intense criticism for his donations to many anti-LGBTQ, anti-gun reform and anti-women’s right to choose organizations and politicians. In an article by Fader, Myles Tanzer states, “In January of 2017, The FADER reported that Philip Anschutz, the CEO of entertainment giant AEG and owner of Golden Voice/Coachella was a Republican mega-donor who gave over $1,000,000 to conservative efforts during the 2016 election. Although 2017 was an off-cycle election year, Anschutz opened up his checkbook again and gave close to $200,000 to Republican politicians and Super PACs.”
Many Coachella-goers have chosen to boycott the festival due to the profit being made by Anschutz, and indirectly those profits go to these types of organizations and politicians with far right extremist values and policies. When these accusations were being made against Anschutz, he responded with the statement, “Both The Anschutz Foundation and I contribute to numerous organizations that pursue a wide range of causes. Neither I nor the Foundation fund any organization with the purpose or expectation that it would finance anti-LGBTQ initiatives, and when it has come to my attention or the attention of The Anschutz Foundation that certain organizations either the Foundation or I have funded have been supporting such causes, we have immediately ceased all contributions to such groups.”
Even though Coachella’s owner is problematic and a known Republican mega donor, many concert goers find it hard to boycott the festival entirely. A large reason being many people don’t know about the allegations. Another important factor is Coachella is an environment that welcomes everyone for who they are. One weekend at Coachella and you wouldn’t think that the owner is as cruel as the politicians/organizations he donates to. Moving forward, I think we need to start to hold people accountable for the actions, even if they don’t explicitly affect us.