The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival is a three-day music festival that takes place in Indio, California each year in April. Artists of all genres perform and the festival also has art installments and sculptures scattered around its grounds for festival goers to enjoy and snap selfies in front of. This festival is one of the biggest and most profitable music festivals not only in the United States but across the world. This year, the cheapest ticket starts at $429. General admission and access to the shuttle bus comes out to $509 and VIP entrance is $999. It's easy to see that this is an event for the elite, and each year celebrities like Justin Beiber, Kendall Jenner, and Leonardo DiCaprio are seen attending the event.
Throughout the weekend of Coachella, Instagram is flooded with "Coachella outfits" and the festival's headliners trend continuously on Twitter. Ariana Grande, Childish Gambino, and Billie Eilish are just a sampling of the many artists performing at the festival this year. Coachella is revered, an event to be marked down in your calendar, but many often forget about the man behind this hugely successful arts and music festival.
Philip Anschutz is the co-owner of Coachella and also of the Anschutz Entertainment Group. The Anschutz Entertainment Group is a wildly successful promoter of live events, and the foundation behind this company has been reported to have consistently supported anti LGBTQ+ organizations. Between 2015 and 2016 tax filings show that the Anschutz foundation donated $325,000 towards groups with anti LGBTQ+ missions.
Philip Anschutz has denied these claims and dismissed them as "fake news." It seemed that the foundation stopped making these donations after a public outcry, but the tax filings still showed that money was donated as recently as 2016. Despite Coachella's seemingly progressive vibes and the audience and artists it attracts, Anschutz donated close to $200,000 to Republican politicians in 2017.
This year many have praised Ariana Grande when she ended her performance with a giant rainbow flag, a symbol of gay pride, and perceived the flag as a "fuck you" toward Anschutz. Personally, I don't see this as the brave, inclusive act many are making it out to be. The best way to protest anti LGBTQ+ organizations is to not support them, and her performance at Coachella during the height of her fame made the event even more sought after than before. Ariana's decision to perform at Coachella contributes to the money Anschutz makes, and his financial history has proved him to be an enemy to the LGBTQ+ community.
The best way to promote LGBTQ+ rights would be to boycott the festival entirely.
Artists like Ariana Grande, Childish Gambino, and Billie Eilish as well as the celebrities that attend have the platform to create real change, and despite the inclusive messages they seem to be promoting, performing at and attending Coachella undermines their supposed support of equality.
Coachella is obviously a huge opportunity for these artists, but if the people we look to as our role models begin to actively oppose hateful groups like LGBTQ+ organizations, there is a chance that more people will begin to boycott events owned by Philip Anschutz and people like him.
As the old saying goes, "actions speak louder than words."