Arts & Culture

HB2 effect still being felt by some venues

Singer/Songwriter Alan Jackson performs Oct. 27 at PNC. For several months, PNC didn’t have a single concert on it’s calendar due to cancellations over HB2.
Singer/Songwriter Alan Jackson performs Oct. 27 at PNC. For several months, PNC didn’t have a single concert on it’s calendar due to cancellations over HB2. Getty Images for Pepsi

House Bill 2, the so-called “bathroom bill,” has taken a heavy toll on North Carolina’s concert business, with acts ranging from Bruce Springsteen to Itzhak Perlman canceling performances in protest this year. Arguably, no venue has suffered more from HB2 than Raleigh’s PNC Arena.

Pearl Jam was the first to cancel its PNC show over HB2, pulling out of its April 20 concert. Demi Lovato was next, then Maroon 5. Throw in Cirque du Soleil pulling seven “Toruk – The First Flight” shows and PNC has lost 10 dates (and untold amounts of revenue) over the law, which removed local anti-discrimination protections for gay, lesbian and transgender people.

Maroon 5 announced its cancellation back in May, and for several months PNC did not have a single concert on its calendar. Finally, a few are starting to pop up again, including country star Alan Jackson on Oct. 27, Keith Sweat on Nov. 4, Trans-Siberian Orchestra on Dec. 14 and comedian Jeff Dunham on April 7.

PNC Arena management declined repeated requests for comment about the cancellations. But management for Greensboro Coliseum, which lost a Springsteen date over HB2, has been vocal in criticizing the law. In May, the War Memorial Commission that runs the Greensboro Coliseum complex sent Gov. Pat McCrory an open letter asking him to “reverse your support of this economically harmful legislation.”

Beyond the high-profile cancellations, HB2’s biggest impact has been to make it harder for buildings like PNC Arena and Greensboro Coliseum to book concerts. It might take another year for the full scope of the damage to become obvious.

“From an industry perspective, I know that the pool of artists available to come to North Carolina has shrunk,” said Scott Johnson, deputy director of Greensboro Coliseum. “There are some that nobody knows about that have said they will not play here because of this. These are artists that were never announced or on-sale, and they’ve not come put publicly. But they’re not coming.”

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