Performing Arts Fort Worth, the nonprofit organization that manages Bass Performance Hall, generally shies away from involvement in political or social issues, but it has made an exception on the topic of the "bathroom bill" laws currently under consideration by Texas legislators.
The laws would restrict access for transgender people to bathrooms in schools and public buildings. The Texas Senate passed a bill that would limit such restroom use on July 26. The bathroom bill is now in special session but has been stalled; according to Reuters, prospects for passage appear to be "doomed" after moderate Republicans blocked the bills following opposition from hundreds of businesses in Texas including Halliburton and ExxonMobil.
The deadline for passage is August 16.
Bass Performance Hall President and CEO Dione Kennedy sent a letter to Joe Straus, Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives, in opposition. At the end of the letter are names of local arts organizations that joined in opposing this legislation. A release from Bass Hall states that "we consider this to be a collaborative effort among the participating organizations to oppose these laws."
The letter is addressed to Speaker Straus and reads as follows:
As members and leaders of Fort Worth and Tarrant County’s strong and diverse arts and cultural community, we are writing to express our intense opposition to any legislation that would discriminate against any person or group based on gender identity or sexual orientation or limit the ability of Texas cities to provide anti-discrimination protections in their communities.
Arts and culture are part of the fabric that make a community diverse, strong, creative and collaborative. The multiple so-called “bathroom bill” laws target and create fear against people who are different, a cornerstone of discrimination. Recently, local law enforcement leaders from across the state have spoken out against any “bathroom bill” laws stating “there’s no need for this legislation.”
Discriminatory laws will also have a negative impact on the thriving business of arts and culture in Fort Worth. We know from our industry peers in North Carolina that this type of legislation can have a devastating economic impact on the availability of bringing world-class artists and shows to Texas, resulting in a loss of tourism revenue, a reduction in local arts-related jobs, and ultimately creating a significant negative economic impact for Fort Worth.
Fort Worth has a strong, anti-discrimination ordinance that legally prevents discrimination based on race, sex, religion, sexual orientation and gender identity. Fort Worth continues to see strong economic and cultural growth as a result of being a city that welcomes and embraces everyone.
Discriminatory laws would have a crushing effect on the local arts community, businesses and the state of Texas.
Please, join us in saying NO to any legislation that promotes discrimination in our city and state. The Fort Worth and Tarrant County arts community believes strongly in open and accepting accommodations for everyone.
Amphibian Stage Productions
Kathleen Culebro, Artistic Director
Arts Council of Fort Worth
Karen Wiley, President
Tim Long, Managing Director
Fort Worth Opera
Tuomas Hiltunen, General Director
Four Day Weekend
David Ahearn, Co-Founder
IATSE Local 126
Molly Faulk, President
Dee Dee Freeman, Business Agent
Christie M. Howard, Managing Director
Kids Who Care, Inc.
Deborah Jung, Founder and Executive Director
Performing Arts Fort Worth/Bass Performance Hall
Dione Kennedy, President & CEO
Steven A. McGaw, Artistic Director
Stage West Theatre
Dana Schultes, Executive Producer
Texas Ballet Theater
Vanessa Logan, Executive Director
The Live Theatre League of Tarrant County
Lisa Loving Dalton, President
Valerie Galloway, Executive Director