Add the music industry to the growing chorus of businesses weighing in against North Carolina’s newly enacted House Bill 2.
Passed and signed into law last month, the bill, officially named the Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act, does not give state anti-discrimination protection to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. Its passage has been greeted with widespread condemnation, boycotts and withdrawals, with TV and film companies among the first to call for its repeal.
Last week, Tony Award-winning composer and lyricist Stephen Schwartz, whose work includes “Godspell” and “Wicked,” said he wouldn’t let any of his shows be produced in North Carolina. Now music festivals are adding their voices.
Moogfest, the electronic-music festival that has relocated to Durham for next month’s 2016 edition, issued a statement that concluded, “We are standing our ground in North Carolina, and will use every opportunity to protest this law – on the stage, in the streets, and on social media.”
One of Moogfest’s keynote speakers is a transgender woman, Sirius Radio founder Martine Rothblatt. When asked whether any performers or festival-goers have expressed hesitation about coming to North Carolina, Moogfest CEO Adam Katz said:
“We have received letters, and seen comments on social media, indicating some people are cautious about visiting North Carolina. But we know that the best way to combat injustice is by building our community and synthesizing love. Instead of succumbing to the divisive nature of HB2, we are encouraging people to show their support for the LGBTQ community by attending Moogfest as planned, and patronizing diverse, non-discriminatory businesses.”
Management for Hopscotch, the alternative-music festival scheduled for Sept. 8-10 in Raleigh, also decried the bill – and hinted that it might make it difficult to lure out-of-state artists.
“We’ve heard directly from a couple of artists expressing their disgust for the bill,” said Hopscotch director Greg Lowenhagen.
Frank Heath, owner of Cat’s Cradle nightclub in Carrboro, echoed that sentiment.
“I can pretty much guarantee that we will eventually have some cancellations if this law remains in place,” said Heath, who also books shows into larger venues, including the N.C. Museum of Art in Raleigh. “I think the law is ridiculous, and I won’t blame them for canceling.”
The Nashville-based International Bluegrass Music Association has its annual World of Bluegrass festival in Raleigh every fall, and pre-sale tickets for this year’s edition went on sale Tuesday. A number of regular attendees have emailed officials in North Carolina, claiming they’re holding off on registering until the state shows signs of “moving in a more humane and inclusive direction.”
IBMA released a statement that reads in part:
“There is a wide diversity of views within the membership, but where issues divide, music unites. ... We have reached out to our partners in Raleigh regarding any potential impact from the recent legislation, and will continue monitoring the situation.”