An appearance by comedian Tig Notaro originally scheduled at Walton Arts Center to coincide with NWA Pride Month festivities has been cancelled.
According to an email sent to ticket holders on Wednesday, the show was cancelled by the artist “due to a scheduling conflict.”
All tickets purchased to the show will be fully refunded, according to the email.
The cancellation comes amidst controversy at the Walton Arts Center after CEO Peter Lane informed officials with NWA Equality that some elements involving drag story time and performances in the Youth Zone during the NWA Pride festival would not be permitted at the facility.
Officials with NWA Equality made public the arts center’s decision in a press release, and announced the events would move to the Fayetteville Town Center.
NWA Equality officials said they requested to book the arts center for programming “identical to NWA Pride activities hosted at the facility in previous years.” This year, however, they were told that certain drag events would not not permitted, they said.
WAC officials responded and said the decision was made “in the interest of safety concerns for performers, patrons and staff due to the divisive political rhetoric at this time.”
A backlash ensued, prompting the arts center to issue a more detailed statement defending the decision.
In the statement, Walton Arts Center officials reiterated their concerns over safety and said “these events might be used in a political context particularly to further attacks against the LGBTQIA+ community, or to undermine the arts education work or overall operation of Walton Arts Center for the entire NWA community.”
The statement also mentioned concern over a policy to not allow parents, guardians and caregivers into the Youth Zone, though NWA Equality refuted such a policy in their own statement.
“Parents/guardians and children are welcome and encouraged to attend spaces together,” according to NWA Equality. “Story readings will include community members, some in costume, reading age-appropriate books to children and their parents/guardians. Our Teen Zone is for teens only but has a designated parent/guardian area inside the Teen Zone. Entertainment in this teen space is similar to a high school dance, with DJs, musical acts, and youth-appropriate performers and content, including drag performers.”
Since the Walton Arts Center statement was released, nine of the center’s 23 board members have resigned.
The Tig Notaro performance had been scheduled on Friday, June 23, which is the night before the NWA Pride Festival and annual parade on Dickson Street.
No official correlation between the controversy and the cancellation has been acknowledged.