Local students, business owners say cancellations over HB2 are taking a toll
Posted May 23, 2016
Raleigh, N.C. — As the national debate over LGBT rights and North Carolina's House Bill 2 continues, many businesses and even Triangle-area high school students say they are suffering from the growing number of cancellations by high-profile musicians.
The wide-reaching law that directs transgender people to use the public bathroom that aligns with the sex on their birth certificate was signed by Republican Gov. Pat McCrory in March. Since then, Pearl Jam, violinist Itzhak Perlman, Ringo Starr, Cirque Du Soleil and others have canceled.
On Friday, the pop group Maroon 5 became the latest entertainer to decide to skip the state. McCrory, who has sued the Justice Department over its directive allowing transgender students to use their preferred bathroom, has continued his support of the law.
Many high school booster programs and athletic programs in central and eastern North Carolina contract with venues such as PNC Arena to work concession stands during games and concerts.
In most cases, some of the money made at those concession stands goes to fund extracurricular programs at area schools. The money can offset the burden for many parents who are often paying $1,000 or more for their kids to participate in activities such as swimming or band.
But when artists don't show up, neither does the money.
West Johnston High School's band, which has been working a stand at PNC Arena for more than a decade, lost out on thousands of dollars when Pearl Jam, Demi Lovato and Nick Jonas canceled upcoming shows.
Parent association president Karen Pickering says she understands why some artists want to make political statements, but she says she also wants musicians to know the true consequences of their cancellations.
"It's frustrating. I don't think even the stars involved realize they're making a political stance, but they're also affecting our kids," Pickering said. "And it's music programs and things kids really count on that have been cut. We had to buy all new tubas this year because we've literally been duct taping our tubas together."
Pickering says West Johnston High has lost $4,000, money that would have funded uniforms for the fall season. That cost burden will now fall to parents.
"A lot of parents are a little bit panicky right now," Pickering said.
Business owner Cindy Baucom says she is suffering, too. She runs a catering business, and she says she was loading up a trailer full of food to feed Bruce Springsteen's entourage after his show at Greensoro Coliseum when the "Boss" announced he wasn't coming. Baucom said Springsteen reimbursed her the costs of what she'd spent, but the loss of business has a trickle-down affect for her employees.
"My people have light bills to pay, they have food to put on the table, and they aren't being taken care of," Baucom said.