Coachella Controversy Raises Concerns on Where the Money Goes

Omar Carrillo, Staff Writer

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  For a festival spanning two decades and a listing of artists now astronomically extensive, Coachella seems almost invincible from the eyes of a regular consumer and/or lover of music. Coachella is an incredible modern incarnation of the mass-attended celebration of old: Woodstock, Monterey, Newport.

  But it seems that as with many other things, the deeper you look: the more the cracks begin to break through to the surface.

  The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival saw more than 100,000 attendants last year according to USA Today. A massive number for any kind of event, and made up of attendants who clearly did not pinch a penny when it came to buying their tickets, which range from $469 for general admission to up to almost $1,000 for the VIP route.

  But where this money may be going and what it might be going to is a different beast altogether.

  As The Washington Post reported back in 2016, Coachella’s parent company’s (AEG) owner Philip Anschutz has been quite vocal with both his speech and financing when it comes to his political opinions. Anschutz said, “…when it has come to my attention or the attention of the Anschutz Foundation that (we) have been supporting [anti-LGBTQ+] causes, we have immediately ceased all contributions to such groups.”

  But actions certainly speak much louder than words, and when you have the monetary power to literally change the outcome of elections, this is saying the very least.

  So it almost goes without saying that if you plan on purchasing a ticket to the festival or plan on supporting the purchasing of a ticket, it is in your own best interest to understand just where that money is going to, and if you are okay with the reality of where it is going to.

  In 2016, Anschutz reportedly donated no less than a million dollars to conservative candidates during the presidential election of that year, specifically ones pro-life, pro-gun, and anti-LGBTQ+. And it was only in response to his past donations that he donated to the AIDS foundation fund in 2018, (as if to prove to his new critics that he isn’t ALL bad…) which was still arguably being overshadowed by his continued funding of conservative candidates through the previous year (2017).

  Anschutz has been quoted as brushing away these revelations as “fake news”.

  He has also been known for consistently lobbying against climate change science, and related environmentally dangerous practices such as fracking. This is no surprise of course, as he began his career as an oil tycoon.

  Various Coachella artists have declined to give statements about the controversy, which may be expected as being vocal on issues such as this can prove to be problematic for the artist themselves. It is worth mentioning that the Coachella lineup this year features headliners Childish Gambino, Tame Impala, and Ariana Grande (who has Just released her latest feature album, Thank U, Next).

  The question now is what will become of these developments both for Coachella as an industry and the attendants that make up their immense audience?

Potential plans to boycott the festival have been thrown around on social media, and some important figures and celebrities involved with the festival have already voiced their discontent with the situation and their possible support of said boycotts.

At any rate, the situation is certainly one with the capacity to greatly shake up this newfound tradition of music lovers from all around the globe, and it’s something worth keeping an eye on for these months leading up to the event to come.