Northwest Arkansas Pride organizers change venue after center says no drag shows in front of minors

May 10, 2023, 3:13 PM

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Organizers of northwest Arkansas’ Pride weekend said Wednesday they won’t hold events at an arts center that has prohibited the group from having drag shows or drag story hours in front of minors.

Northwest Arkansas Equality said it’s “pausing its partnership” with the Walton Arts Center in Fayetteville after the facility’s governing board this month upheld the restrictions on drag shows for the weekend, which is held in June. The group said Walton Arts Center’s chief executive informed organizers of the decision over several conversations that began in March.

“This decision is surprising, disappointing, and inconsistent,” the group said in a statement. The group noted that the facility has shown programs that feature characters in drag, including “Tootsie” and “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.”

The move comes as Pride festivals and parades in mostly conservative states where there’s been a broader push targeting LGBTQ+ rights Tennessee’s strict limits on drag shows from taking effect.

Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders in February signed a new law placing restrictions on “adult-oriented” performances that originally targeted drag shows but was scaled back following complaints that that it discriminated against the LGBTQ+ community. That law won’t take effect until late July.

Richard Gathright, director of Northwest Arkansas Pride, said Walton center officials didn’t cite the Arkansas law as a reason for prohibiting the shows. Walton Arts Center said it has recognized drag a performance as a medium and will continue to do so.

“We celebrate diversity both on and off our stages and are open to hosting Pride events this year except for drag story time for minors and drag performances by adults specifically for minors,” a statement released Wednesday from the center said. “Our decision was made in the interest of safety concerns for performers, patrons and staff due to the divisive political rhetoric at this time.”

Northwest Arkansas Equality said it has used the Walton Arts Center since 2018 as a venue for LGBTQ+ youth and their families, including resource fairs, drag story time and drag shows suitable for teens.

“They’re trying to censor clear art at an arts center,” Gathright said. “We couldn’t stand by and say half our stuff is OK there, but this particular performer can’t perform there because of this reason.”

The group said its Pride Youth Zone will instead be held at the Fayetteville Town Center on June 24. Gathright said the move also means the center’s plaza won’t be used for the parade emcee and announcers.

United States News

Associated Press

Virginia police investigate explosion at house where officers were trying to serve a search warrant

ARLINGTON, Va. (AP) — Police in a Virginia suburb of the nation’s capital are investigating an explosion at a residence where officers were trying to serve a search warrant Monday. The Arlington County Police Department said in a statement that the suspect fired several shots inside the home and that an explosion happened. Firefighters were […]

5 minutes ago

FILE - A hiring sign is displayed at a grocery store, Oct. 5, 2023, in Deerfield, Ill. Most busines...

Associated Press

Economists predict US inflation will keep cooling and the economy can avoid a recession

Most business economists think the U.S. economy could avoid a recession next year, even if the job market ends up weakening under the weight of high interest rates, according to a survey released Monday.

25 minutes ago

Associated Press

Photographs capture humpback whale’s Seattle visit, breaching in waters in front of Space Needle

Seattle (AP) — Pictures released by a conservation group show a young humpback whale breaching in front of the Space Needle as it visited the waters off Seattle last week, capturing a rare display of wildlife next to a major city. The photos were also used to gauge the general health of the whale and […]

43 minutes ago

FILE - President Joe Biden's son, Hunter Biden, leaves after a court appearance, July 26, 2023, in ...

Associated Press

Prosecutors push back against Hunter Biden’s move to subpoena Trump documents in gun case

WASHINGTON (AP) — Prosecutors pushed back Monday against Hunter Biden’s move to subpoena documents from Donald Trump and former Justice Department officials in the firearms case filed against the president’s son. They argued that Hunter Biden doesn’t have enough evidence to support his claims of potential political interference in the criminal investigation against him and […]

1 hour ago

(Maricopa County Sheriff's Office Photo)...

Associated Press

Treasury creates new strike force as US and China pursue crackdown on illicit fentanyl trafficking

The Treasury Department on Monday announced a new strike force to help combat illicit fentanyl trafficking as the U.S. and China step up stop efforts.

1 hour ago

Associated Press

Arkansas rules online news personality Cenk Uygur won’t qualify for Democratic presidential primary

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas election officials on Monday said online news personality Cenk Uygur, who was born in Turkey, can’t appear on the state’s Democratic presidential primary ballot next year. The determination comes weeks after Uygur proclaimed that he had become the first naturalized citizen on a presidential ballot after filing paperwork with […]

2 hours ago

Sponsored Articles


Dierdre Woodruff

Interest rates may have peaked. Should you buy a CD, high-yield savings account, or a fixed annuity?

Interest rates are the highest they’ve been in decades, and it looks like the Fed has paused hikes. This may be the best time to lock in rates for long-term, low-risk financial products like fixed annuities.

Follow @KTAR923...

West Hunsaker at Morris Hall supports Make-A-Wish Foundation in Arizona

KTAR's Community Spotlight this month focuses on Morris Hall and its commitment to supporting the Make-A-Wish Foundation in Arizona.



Importance of AC maintenance after Arizona’s excruciating heat wave

An air conditioning unit in Phoenix is vital to living a comfortable life inside, away from triple-digit heat.

Northwest Arkansas Pride organizers change venue after center says no drag shows in front of minors