Last year several music websites pointed out that climate-change denier and private billionaire Philip Anschutz, who has donated to anti-gay organizations, Republican politicians, and classified hate groups, technically owns the music festival Coachella.
Anschutz’s entertainment company AEG (Anschutz Entertainment Group) owns Goldenvoice, which operates Coachella (along with festivals like FYF, Panorama, Hangout, and more, in addition to several venues). Anschutz ended up responding to the reports, telling Rolling Stone that he “supports the rights of all people without regard to sexual orientation” and that he and his foundation would cease donating to anti-LGBTQ initiatives.
But he still donated to many Republican candidates in 2017, giving nearly $200,000 to politicians and Super PACs. According to the Fader this past year Anschutz gave $5,400 to Senator Cory Gardner, a pro-gun senator, $2,700 to Representative Scott Tipton, who opposes same-sex marriage and abortion rights, and $5,400 to House member Mike Coffman, who opposes abortion rights and once suggested Barack Obama was not born in America. Anschutz also gave money to speaker of the House Paul Ryan and $138,000 to the National Republican Senate Committee. So while Anschutz said he would cease donations to certain organizations, he has continued to support conservative politicians.
Coachella, and music festivals more broadly, make bank off the work of politically outspoken and liberal artists like Beyoncé, Kendrick Lamar, Radiohead, and more. After outlets pointed out Anschutz connections some artists, like the band Downtown Boys, called out Coachella’s affiliation with the billionaire. Others, like Mitski, pointed out how not playing the festival only hurts her more. Not every artist, after all, can afford to walk away from a literally career-sustaining and rent-paying gig like Coachella. But considering Anschutz hasn’t changed, and probably will never change, this is a problem Coachella and its attendees will have to keep dealing with.