SAAC & CDAF say cancelling was “breach of trust”; drag show continues

SAAC & CDAF bring back scheduled drag show

STARKVILLE, Miss. (WCBI)- The drag show at the center of controversy in Starkville and the Cotton District Arts Festival is back on.

WCBI reported that volunteers with the festival say sponsors threatened to pull funding from the event if a drag performance happened. Volunteers say the show was canceled because of the amount of negativity people were spewing–but, now the Starkville Area Arts Council says the show must go on.

“Starkville has a lot of opportunities and we’re being progressive and getting a lot of opportunities here,” said Hayden Delacroy. Delacroy is also known as Trinity Devine and will take the East Stage Saturday at the Cotton District Arts Festival.

“Drag is an art form. For me, it came after the loss of a loved one. That’s what it is for a lot of people. It’s a self-expression form after something tragic has happened,” said Delacroy.

Numerous complaints to the SAAC against the show spilled over to social media. Starkville Alderman, Ben Carver, denied talking on camera, however, he shared on social media he and his family would not attend the festival, if a drag show would happen. He called the drag show an “indoctrination.”

Delacroy says that’s not the purpose of drag.

“A lot of the complaints were that they thought we were trying to change people’s views and be monsters. We’re not monsters. We’re people and we bleed the same blood as everybody else,” said Delacroy.

In a statement from the SAAC–board members say they realize the cancellation was a breach of trust with the LGBTQIA+ community. They stand by their nondiscriminatory mission and will work to keep sharing arts of all forms in the community. Delacroy says it’s a giant step forward.

“With the right movements, we can overcome anything. We have many more opportunities to come and we’re planning more,” said Delacroy.

Statement from SAAC & CDAF:
“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 on the afternoon of 10/25. Following that announcement, Starkville Pride issued a statement regarding this cancellation. In follow-up, 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 [1]) 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, and 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.”

The show is scheduled for 2 p.m. Saturday afternoon. The CDAF runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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Categories: Local News