The Starkville Area Arts Council has received various responses from the community regarding the planned Drag performances at the 2022 Cotton District Arts Festival.
On Monday, the CDAF committee publicly posted the official schedule for the arts festival. The schedule included a performance by a local Drag Queen troupe including Trinity Devine, Fendi LaFemme, and Jada Lee Symone at 2 p.m on the East Stage. Over the last several days, we received numerous calls from the public and some sponsors objecting to this performance. A new schedule excluding this performance was posted in the afternoon of 10/25. Following that announcement, Starkville Pride issued a statement regarding this cancellation. In followup, SAAC and CDAF received calls from the LQBTQIA+ community and allies questioning our integrity and sincerity by ignoring our public Non-Discrimination Policy, currently available on our websites.
SAAC’s mission statement is to build a strong, creative, connected community through art. SAAC and CDAF committees are both composed of volunteers who endeavor to fulfill that mission. The arts are incredibly diverse, much like the community of Starkville. Historically, drag performance (which has origins in Shakespearean theatre ) has been stigmatized as part of the greater push to further marginalize the LQBTQIA+ community.
As representatives of the community, we (SAAC and CDAF) do not discriminate against potential artists, performers, musicians, and/or vendors based on race, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, national origin, age, veteran status, or disability/ability. The cancellation limited the diversity and depth of our programming and counteracted the inclusive philosophies of both SAAC and CDAF, as well as the state and national arts communities. Our mission is and should always be to support all of the arts in and for our community. We realize this cancellation was a breach of trust of the LGBTQIA+ community and are taking steps to do better going forward.
SAAC will allow the performances by Trinity Devine, Fendi LaFemme, Jada Lee Symone at the East Stage of the Cotton District Arts Festival at 2 pm, as originally scheduled.
We promise to continue making inclusive nominations to our Board of Directors and committees that better represent the communities of Starkville and Oktibbeha County. This ensures that all of the communities here have a voice in our decisions. We can do better. As a public organization, we want and must do what is best for our community as a whole. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact SAAC.
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