Composer leads music boycott of anti-gay US state

Message from ‘Godspell’ and ‘Wicked’ composer and lyricist Stephen Schwartz:

‘To my fellow theatre writers and producers: As you no doubt know, the state of North Carolina has recently passed a reprehensible and discriminatory law. I feel that it is very important that any state that passes such a law suffer economic and cultural consequences, partly because it is deserved and partly to discourage other states from following suit.

‘Therefore, I and my collaborators are acting to deny the right to any theatre or organization based in North Carolina to produce any of our shows. We have informed our licensing organizations and touring producers of this, and I’m happy to say have met with compliance and approval from them.

‘In the 1970s, I, along with many other writers and artists, participated in a similar action against apartheid in South Africa, and as you know, this eventually proved to be very effective.

‘If you are in agreement, you may want to join me in refusing to license our properties to, or permit productions of our work by, theaters and organizations in North Carolina until this heinous legislation is repealed.

‘Thank you for considering this.’

stephen schwarz

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  • Hear hear…and while you’re at it, start preparing simular anti-Trump measures too, because heaven knows what a potential administration under his ‘leadership’ would do to the LGBT community!

  • Sometimes it is said that musicians “can’t do anything” in political situations. But by withdrawing the right to services and the use of material, a strong point can be brought home.

    • Time will tell. The law was signed only 10 days ago 3/23). Mr. Schwartz’s letter appears to have been published on Friday (4/01). Keep in mind that the impact would be measured not only in scheduled productions which get cancelled, but also in new projects that don’t get scheduled.

      Charlotte Observer, 4/01: (notice it’s in the “business” section, not the “arts” section)

      • I’d bet all the money in Norman’s wallet that very few of the legislators know or care how many productions are cancelled. The people who would vote for such a law are unlikely to consider the arts to be of significant value.

        • Well, it’s a start, and if people understand that almost everyone, not only cultural actors, can do something to counter such discriminating and hateful law proposal, it will be effective.
          The nazis achieved their goals while being a minority only because the vast majority didn’t stand up when they were not directly concerned.
          I hope more reknowned artists (Sondheim, Lloyd-Webber, Bernstein inheritors…) will follow the lead. When movies start not being shown in theaters, maybe the people will start understanding that gays are ALSO an important part of the creative community that make their life more pleasureable and less miserable.

    • @ Pianofortissimo: As Simon Wiesenthal once said: “For evil to flourish, it only requires good men to do nothing.”

      • HB REPLIES:

        Dear Gary Carpenter,

        Your worthy quote was not Simon Wiesenthal (1908-2005), but Edmund Burke (1729-1797), and we have not even a source for that most oft-quoted quote. The most we can say is “attributed to Edmund Burke”.

        The SUBSTANCE of the quote, however, is powerful, whether in the mouth of Wiesenthal or of Burke.

  • I certainly approve, but seriously, how many of the politicians involved care what shows, if any, are produced in the state? We’re not talking about people who are great supporters of the arts, and some of them, at least, undoubtedly think that “Godspell” is profane.

    • Of course the politicians don’t care about musical theater or the arts in general, but they might care about the money lost, if the decrease is big enough. South Africa’s politicians didn’t change apartheid out of the kindness of their hearts.

      • They won’t even know, and if someone does call it to their attention, all they’ll see will be the immediate loss in ticket sales. They won’t know about – or won’t believe – the larger economic impact.

        …And it’s not like a company, denied permission to produce “Godspell” or “Wicked” will just decide not to produce at all. For this to work, every rights holder (or at least almost every rights holder) will have to participate.

        • Well then. It’s doomed to fail, and will be another quixotic gesture that demonstrates the ultimate powerlessness of the arts.

          • As I said above, if every rights holder participates, it could succeed, and of course, we’re not the only people protesting. If films stop being made, and the NFL pulls out, and other organizations participate, the state will come around.

          • OK, so it could succeed. But succeed or fail, the importance of artists and the arts will be negligible.

  • As a North Carolina resident deeply troubled by the recent actions and reactions of the State’s General Assembly and gubernatorial administration, I applaud and welcome the efforts of Stephen Schwartz and others to give ‘teeth’ to the opposition to the shameful legislation at the heart of this matter.

    As a musician and an Arts writer, however, my greater concern is for the child somewhere in North Carolina who might be deprived by politics of the opportunity to experience great Art. In such an environment, citizens’ affections, sensibilities, and understanding being broadened by seeing a work like WICKED upon the stage may well be the only wholly effective means of countering the wickedness confronting us.

      • Certainly agreed about Wicked – excellent amusement!

        But this isn’t about “art”. This is about small-minded numpties who’ve got the Almighty’s personal cellphone number, and believe His Will is being done when they unleash their hatred on all outside their own kind.

        But you’re probably right, this ban won’t affect them. These are the people who buy Toby Keith albums.

  • Please, wait a minute. What has not been taken into account is the normal experimentation of teenaged children of the same sex . None of these related laws have done so. Using bathrooms, or showers , of the opposite sex, at least, physically, in school settings can create all sorts of problems for the majority heterosexual students.
    This law applies to middle school students as well. These ages are often confusing at best. The majority also matter. By the way, exactly, what is meant by the term, ” transsexual “? Boycotting North Carolina for the purpose stated cannot equate with the South African Apartheid Laws. Unless the fundamentals of an argument are clear and accurate the boycott will not work. This is not the case with this new law. There is nothing in this law that demands discrimination, enforces precluding real homosexuals and lesbians in any way, proscribes incarceration in any way, or provides for them to live only in certain areas and not trespassing those boundaries, forbids them from any profession, or holding private property, or from any business.
    This may backfire. Are we, now, going to have blacklists upon blacklists? Religious tests? Sexual tests? I,certainly, remember homosexual cliques in the music business
    blocking very qualified females from obtaining jobs, and young talented musicians being forced to succumb to reigning stars to obtain opportunities in music positions, or being blocked from obtaining them, or having their music performed. There are enough problems for musicians being cheated, unpaid, precluded from employment, or earning a decent living as a musician . Successful musicians should stop a minute and recall what has and is going on in the business before running to set-up more obstacles. Are the plaintiffs of this lawsuit going to make their thinking a test for young, struggling musicians,writers, conductors, etc.? Again? Think! Please!

    • You are obviously unfamiliar with the totality of the effects of this wide-ranging law. It not only affects people whose gender does not conform to their birth certificate, it includes mention that sexual acts must be between one man and one woman who are married, effectively making premarital heterosexual sex illegal.

      It also forbids the making of any laws (at county/city/town level) that gives protections not included in state protections. The problem is that at the state level there are no protections for LGBT people. This entire law was made with the express purpose of invalidating a city ordinance in Charlotte that extended equal protections to LGBT citizens in that city.

      The whole bathroom gender kerfuffle was a smoke screen meant to hide the greater harm and obvious animus of this law against a protected minority class.

      And yes, I have actually read the law and its provisions.

  • Let’s, also, remember Gay and Lesbian people are not precluded from holding office,
    nor are works by known gay and lesbian artists not performed, or exhibited, or sold in bookstores, or wherever, because of their sexual preference. Let’s not start.

    • See my comment above.
      Your apparent wilful ignorance of the actual law as it has been passed, and your willingness to comment openly about something about which you appear to know little, is frightening.

  • South Africa was bought down by armed insurrection against a legal government supported by the world Marxists, Soviet Russia, the worldwide anti-apartheid campaign organised by Britain and the World Council of Churches. The subsequent deaths of both black and white South Africans lead by that great ‘pacifist’ Nelson Mandela was of no consequence to these activists who didn’t know what apartheid was except it sounded bad. There was no apartheid in Rhodesia yet it was attacked on three fronts by the same ANC thugs. There is just as much apartheid in South Africa today against whites and minorities so where are the protesters now?

    • and cream cheese is wonderful on a toasted bagel… but what has any of your screed to do with the anti-LGBT law that has been passed in N.C.?

    • ‘There is just as much apartheid in South Africa today against whites and minorities”

      Citation, please.

      • Sounds like one of those “whites’ rights” guys who think they would totally get hired if the system wasn’t rigged against them. :-/

  • What nonsense. What the law does is simply protect religious liberty, which has been under assault in this country by political correctness to such an extent that the First Amendment is no longer enough to truly protect religious liberty. What these activists want is to shove their new PC morality down everyone’s throats. Enough is enough.

    • No. No one has been prevented from worshiping or otherwise practicing her/his religion. All the law does is allow you to pretend that your religion mandates bigotry.

      If one’s religion does, indeed, mandate hatred and bigotry, that person needs a new religion. If a person’s self-image requires him to discriminate against others in order to feel good about himself, that’s just sad.

      …And if you’re about to claim that it’s not about hatred and discrimination…don’t embarrass yourself.

      • I feel sorry for people who feel threatened by the suggestion that they should be Politely Considerate.

        • Tell that to those offended by those with whom they disagree. My observation is that being “Politely Considerate” is a one way street to many people. Competing agendas and belief systems have a hard time coexisting under the best of circumstances, but once legislation gets involved all bets are off. The term “bigot” gets thrown around too easily and too often by the “politely considerate” crowd. Just because someone does not ascribe to a given belief system or lifestyle choice does not automatically mean that person is some sort of ***ist or ***phobe (fill in the offended group of your choice). We don’t need to support that which we find morally offensive. Yet since that truth swings both ways, conflict is inevitable. Still, I don’t hear anyone referring to those in the LGBT community as “heterophobes.”

          • That’s because no one in the LGBT community is actively campaigning to REMOVE hard-earned rights from heterosexuals.

            That’s because no one in the LGBT community is promoting the passing of laws that restrict religious liberty.

            That’s because everyone is free to practice their religion.
            Everyone is NOT, however, free to attack others who do not share their religion – which is exactly what these “Christians” are doing.

    • Dennis, if you used race instead of LGBTQI people, in terms of exercising “religious liberty,” you will then understand (I hope) how the rest of the western world sees this draconian law. No one’s “religious liberty” is infringed on by not allowing others to impose their religion on others in public accommodation.

      In a pluralistic society, we all pay for all of the infrastructure (roads, schools, etc.)) and services (police, ambulance, etc.) that everyone relies on for civilization. Should LGBTQI get an enormous tax break in states where they can be excluded from services and public accommodation?

      I lived and worked in North Carolina. It is a peculiar state. It funds and values the arts better than many states. It is business savvy. But, the state has a difficult racial past and that all seems channeled into the anti-LGBTQI efforts. This boycott joins around 100 businesses that have spoken against this law. So hopefully, the totality of organizations boycotting NC will contribute to turning around this awful legislation, and make other states think twice about adopting it.

      Good for Stephen.

      • You could substitute race OR religion.
        Lots of these people believe that sexual orientation is a choice, and that so-called “evidence” to the contrary is actually gay/liberal social scientists pushing their agenda. OK, fine; at this stage, probably nothing will ever get them to change their minds.

        BUT —

        Religion is most certainly a choice. People can and do change their religions all the time. Pretend for a moment that religious discrimination was still legal at the federal level. What if a state legislature (say, North Carolina for example) passed a law banning protections against religious discrimination? If a city (say, Charlotte for example) wanted to offer protection to Jews, they wouldn’t be allowed to. Anyone who converted to Judaism would become a second-class citizen.

        Efforts to fight against such a law would be greeted with responses like Carolyn’s and Dennis’s.

        • …And yet, the people who so believe seem unable to explain the process by which they made their own choice…what tempted them to choose homosexuality, and what made them choose to be straight. Indeed, they seem to be offended by the question, almost as if heterosexuality were not something they chose, but the way they were born. Almost.

        • Besides, WHY would someone choose to belong to a heavily marginalized community, to get beaten up, to get fired, refused employment, and lodging, to be rejected by family members?

          So far, I have yet to hear any proponents of the “chosen lifestyle” dogma explain these.

          It has only become very recently “safe” to be LGBT publicly.

          So tell us, oh wise one, why would someone in the 1800’s or the 1920’s or the 1960’s “choose” to be LGBT? What advantage, what improvement in status, would this bring about?

          Oh, and do tell us how someone would rationalize becoming LGBT at the age of 5-6 during a hateful era when the first insult out of school yard bully’s s mouth is “f@ggot”.

          • Come to think of it, there are even countries where being LGBT can garner one a horrible death penalty. And yet, those self-same countries have the exact same proportions of LGBT people as countries where LGBT people are a protected class. How odd.

  • Well, at least we won’t have to worry about people with male anatomy further clogging the ladies’ room line at intermission…

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