The INSIDER Summary:
• Coachella is owned by the reclusive billionaire Phil Anschutz.
• Anschutz also owns other media and entertainment properties, like Regal cinemas and stakes in California sports teams.
• He’s a major donor to anti-equality groups.
• Coachella fans are dismayed.
This year’s Coachella lineup is filled with stars and one of the most diverse ever. Artists like Beyoncé, Radiohead, Lorde, and Kendrick Lamar are headlining the April music festival — all of whom are known to support women’s rights and LGBT causes.
But — to the surprise of many of those artists’ fans — Coachella is owned by someone who opposes a lot of what they stand for: conservative billionaire Phil Anschutz.
Who is Phil Anschutz?
In 2001, Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival was purchased by the Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG), a subsidiary of Phil Anschutz’s privately-held Anschutz Corporation. The company owns several influential conservative-leaning publications, like The Weekly Standard and The Washington Examiner.
AEG is a sprawling entertainment empire, owning and operating the event ticketing company Live Nation and the movie theatre chain Regal. They are also heavily involved in California sports organisations, owning Staples Center and StubHub Center and carrying major stakes in several California sports teams.
Anschutz’s foundation donates to anti-equality causes.
Anschutz also owns the tax-exempt Anschutz Family Foundation which had more than $1 billion in assets under management as of 2013, according to Bloomberg. It funds a lot of Colorado-based causes, like the University of Colorado at Denver School of Medicine and the Children’s Hospital Foundation.
But the foundation has also donated to a few organisations that Coachella artists and attendees won’t likely be happy about, according to an infographic from Freedom for All Americans, an organisation working to secure full equality for LGBT individuals, and cited by The Washington Post. They include:
- $110,000 to Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) between 2011 and 2013. The ADF litigates cases to oppose abortion, same-sex marriage, and civil unions.
- $30,000 to Family Research Council between 2010 and 2013. The lobbyist organisation battles pro-LGBT laws and has been labelled a “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
- $50,000 to National Christian Foundation between 2011 and 2013. The foundation has contributed tens of millions of dollars to ADF, the Family Research Council, and other similar organisations.
Anschutz has funded anti-equality groups for decades. He also supported Colorado’s 1992 proposition Amendment 2, a ballot initiative designed to overturn laws offering LGBT protection. The law was ruled unconstitutional in 1993.
In addition to funding anti-equality groups, Anschutz has been noted by Greenpeace to finance science denial groups. Much of Anschutz’s fortune comes from holdings in oil companies.
Coachella fans are upset.
The people shelling out hundreds of dollars to go to Coachella aren’t happy about this. The same goes for the people who can’t afford Coachella tickets anyway.
“I don’t understand how someone supports global warming denial groups,” Reddit user RobieFLASH wrote. “Wtf does he care that some people are trying to save the planet??”
Many people lamented the news on Twitter:
Time will tell if this will impact how many people go to Coachella and if the renowned festival will continue drawing big-name artists to headline the event.
INSIDER has reached out to the Coachella festival’s management for comment, but have not heard back at the time of this post.
Oh no, that Coachella news… it really is like cheating on someone
— Toffeebomb (@Toffeebomb) January 5, 2017
i don’t care how hype coachella is i will not be giving a penny to a man that actively donates to anti-LGBTQ & anti-abortion organisations pic.twitter.com/jmwTvOVUt7
— Dyl (@scholaurship) January 5, 2017
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