At about the same time Coachella released its 2017 lineup and everyone was like, "ooooo Beyoncé!!!," it was revealed that festival owner Philip Anschutz helps fund some pretty shitty causes: organizations that campaign against LGBTQ and women's reproductive rights, for example. (Anschutz called it "fake news," but Pitchfork has uncovered proof of his foundation donating to the orgs in question as recently as 2015).
Accordingly, there's been some action to #BoycottCoachella. New York punk band Show Me The Body reacted by renegotiating their invite and promising to donate their performance fee to initiatives supporting homeless LGBT youth and California climate advocacy groups. Predictably, pressure has been put on the headliners — Beyoncé, Radiohead and Kendrick Lamar, all of whom probably consider themselves rather progressive folk — to do something about it too.
Begun by the activist network Care2, there's a petition urging the Coachella headliners to donate their proceeds to pro-LGBTQ groups, specifically The Trevor Project, Trans Lifeline and the Human Rights Campaign.
"Coachella drew nearly 200,000 attendees last year, generating almost $85 billion," the petition's author Lauren L writes, "a portion of which we now know went to organizations actively fighting to deny human rights to LGBTQ people." Since it was created Tuesday, the Care2 petition has garnered, at this time, about 6,150 supporters.
“As a transgender woman and advocate for the LGBTQ community, my genuine hope is that these artists can turn a bad situation into a positive one,” Care2 LGBTQ Issues Advocate Sarah Rose told Dazed. “I’m a diehard music fan and a musician myself, and I strongly believe that music shouldn’t be used as a means to discriminate.”
The payday for Coachella headliners likely counts in seven figures, so that would be a meaningful win — both symbolically and financially — for the charities and non-profits. Unfortunately, Anschutz — whose AEG also runs Panorama, FYF, Hangout and other big festivals — gets to keep his money. And he's set to make a bunch of it.