”We will open the doors to our show to anyone who wants to come.”
This is a tune you can hum along to. While many other artists have recently cancelled shows in North Carolina in light of the state’s “religious freedom” bill, the Grammy-winning band has decided to carry on with their sold out performance at the Charlotte Time Warner Cable Arena on Thursday. It’s not that the band isn’t locked into the current controversy over “HB2,” aka the anti-LGBTQ “Bathroom Law,” it’s that they are taking a different approach. Rather than simply cutting off the financial bump their appearance would bring to the economy, they are using the economic power of that concert to support to a local organization fighting to support the rights of LGBTQ individuals in the state.
From a statement issued by the band:
We will be playing a show tomorrow in Charlotte, and recent events in North Carolina have got us talking a lot as a band the last few days, so we felt compelled to say something in advance to you.
As a band that relishes welcoming everyone to our shows and promoting tolerance, we do want to take a stand with the people of North Carolina who this week are shouting loudly against intolerance, fear and discrimination.
Over the years we’ve looked for ways to contribute to the vitality of local communities and, in that spirit, we’re now creating a charitable fund to support those who have made it their mission to pursue love and justice. We will be donating all of our profits from this show to this new fund. And we will start by making a donation from it to a local LGBTQ organisation.
As always, we will open the doors to our show to anyone who wants to come, and are excited to get down with the people of Charlotte.
It’s a different approach to making an impact than artists like Bruce Springsteen and Ringo Starr have taken. Both men have cancelled their scheduled appearances in the city. Another artist, Jimmy Buffet (he of “Margaritaville” fame) has also decided to carry on with his upcoming show.
The Mumford & Sons approach argues that tolerance and economic empowerment are the best way to normalize equality for all. It’s one that was commonly referred to in the 1990’s as the “Will and Grace effect,” in which popular culture could be used to acclimate those who were personally unfamiliar with gay and lesbian individuals but not necessarily committed to discriminating against them. A similar approach has worked to varying degrees over the years with a number of minority communities.
What do you think is the best approach? If artists want to make a political statement, should they follow the path of Mumford & Sons by “welcoming all” while using their cultural and economic weight to support their chosen cause? Or, is the best path forward to impose economic sanctions like in the case of Springsteen and several other corporate bodies that have threatened to pull their businesses from the state?