Singer-songwriter Conor Oberst and Phoenix-based concert promoter Charlie Levy are in the midst of a very pointed dialogue over the real impact of Sound Strike, a coalition of artists including Oberst, Zack de la Rocha, Nine Inch Nails, Pitbull and Maroon 5 boycotting Arizona over the notorious immigration law SB 1070.
Sound Strike's members hopes to use their artistic platform to hit Arizona in its pocketbook and help force a repeal of the law. But in a recent editorial in the Arizona Republic, Levy argues that the real victims are struggling Arizona entertainment-industry workers, and the state's forums for cultural life that might be allies in their efforts to overturn the bill. Levy writes:
By not performing in Arizona, artists are harming the very people and places that foster free speech and the open exchange of ideas that serve to counter the closed-mindedness recently displayed by the new law.
The people who will feel the negative effects of the boycott the deepest are local concert venues, including non-profit art-house theatres, independent promoters, fans and the people employed in the local music business. If the boycott continues, it is all but guaranteed that some of these venues will be forced to close their doors.