Ironically, the Coachella Music Festival’s owner’s politics aren’t as hip as his outdoor music and arts festival. This year’s Coachella lineup is filled with big name stars and diverse talent. It’s reported to be the best lineup in years. There is something for everyone when it comes to Beyoncé and Radiohead headlining the festival.
However, it turns out that Coachella is owned by far-right conservative Phil Anschutz, reports Insider. Back in 2001, Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival was bought out by the Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG), a subsidiary of Phil Anschutz’s privately-held Anschutz Corporation. Anschutz is a reclusive 77-year-old billionaire who currently resides in Colorado. Bloomberg reported that he’s estimated to be worth $10.7 billion.
He’s also reportedly a donor to a large number of right-wing and conservative groups that have opposed LGBGQ rights for years. According to the Huffington Post, Anschutz is listed as the key “enemy of quality” in an infographic produced by the Washington, D.C.-based LGBTQ advocacy group, Freedom for All Americans. The infographic revealed that Anschutz has donated thousands of dollars to the Alliance Defending Freedom, the Family Research Council, and the National Christian Foundation, all of which have been opponents in fighting for LGBTQ equality, through the Anschutz Family Foundation.
The revelation of Anschutz’s political affiliations re-surfaced this week during the announcement of the 2017 Coachella lineup, with in-depth reports in Esquire, Refinery29, and TeenVogue, among others. When reached by the press, an Anschutz Corporation employee refused to comment on the recent reports.
“We do not have a media relations department or press department and we do not accept these type of calls.”
However, Anschutz has released a statement to the Huffington Post on Thursday, Jan. 5, stating that he does not tolerate discrimination of any kind. He also denied that his foundation never knowingly funded any anti-LGBTQ groups.
“Recent claims published in the media that I am anti-LGBTQ are nothing more than fake news – it is all garbage. I unequivocally support the rights of all people without regard to sexual orientation,” he wrote. “We are fortunate to employ a wealth of diverse individuals throughout our family of companies, all of whom are important to us – the only criteria on which they are judged is the quality of their job performance; we do not tolerate discrimination in any form.”
According to Greenpeace, the oil and gas billionaire is also a “financer of climate science denial groups” and he attends the Koch brothers’ twice-annual strategy meetings.
Coachella’s rep has not yet been reached for comment on this matter. Does that mean that festival goers should boycott Coachella? This hasn’t affected ticket sales, as VIP and general admission tickets for Coachella 2017 have already sold out, according to Los Angeles Weekly.
These reports also won’t prompt the headlining acts to step down as well, according to Salon. Both Kendrick Lamar and Beyoncé have released some politically-charged albums and music in recent years that have helped create conversations about black culture, feminism, and progressive politics. Beyoncé and Jay Z have shown support for Hillary Clinton, while Lamar’s “Alright” was played at a rally in Chicago after Republican Donald Trump was announced as the next president-elect.
These artists won’t back away from doing Coachella just yet. Coachella has successfully run for 18 years and has attracted celebrities and rich kids in droves to Indio, California. Tickets typically run $375 for one weekend back in 2016, and it’s known that most of that revenue goes back to AEG and the right-wing causes the owner supports.
Knowing this information, would you boycott Coachella? Or, would you still go despite knowing Anschutz’s conservative politics? Sound off below in the comments section.
[Featured Image by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Coachella]