ArtsQuest changes age policy for drag performance after social media storm
BETHLEHEM, Pa. — After social media backlash involving one of its sponsors, ArtsQuest has changed its age restriction for an upcoming drag performance.
The Draggin' With The Divas event now requires attendees to be 18 years or older to attend the performance.
The event is scheduled to take place Friday, June 30.
- ArtsQuest has changed its age restriction policy for its second annual Draggin' With The Divas" performance
- The announcement came after Yuengling Brewery faced backlash on social media for its connection with the drag performance
- The beer company released a statement stating it was not involved in choosing ArtsQuest's lineup
In a statement released on Friday, ArtsQuest announced an adjustment to the age restriction, increasing it to 18 years old from 13 years old.
The announcement was posted just days after Yuengling Brewery, one of ArtsQuest's sponsors, faced backlash on social media after a since-deleted post by ArtsQuest went viral.
The deleted post in question read, "Need Your drag fix before our iconic Musikfest Drag Show? Well, the queens return to Musikfest Cafe pres. by Yuengling June 30th."
Many retweeted the post and called for boycott of Yuengling for allowing children and "babies in arm" to attend the drag performance.
The Pottsville-based beer company then released its own statement on Friday stating it had no part in ArtsQuest's lineup or acts.
"Through our ArtsQuest sponsorship, we have the naming rights to 'Musikfest Cafe, Presented By Yuengling,' venue. ArtsQuest independently plans the events and policies that take place at this venue, and all of their other performance areas," the statement reads. The beer company also disabled comments on the post.
When reached by email on Monday, a spokesperson for ArtsQuest released a similar announcement:
"Yuengling is a longtime supporter of ArtsQuest. Like all of our 300 sponsors, Yuengling does not have any involvement in the acts or content that are booked for our venues.
"Our sponsors are also not involved in the admission policies for our venues, which vary by event and facility. This includes the Draggin' With The Divas show planned at the venue in question, 'Musikfest Café Presented by Yuengling,' the statement said.
Emails sent to Yuengling were not immediately returned.
"It is unfortunate that certain right-wing organizations and activists — many of which claim to celebrate and promote 'liberty,' — have chosen to make drag performance a proxy for their hate campaign against LBGTQ people in general and transgender people specifically."Corrine Goodwin, President of the Eastern PA Trans Equity Project
'It is censorship'
The Yuengling social media controversy is just another example of hate against the LBGTQ community, says Corrine Goodwin, president of the Eastern PA Trans Equity Project.
"It is unfortunate that certain right-wing organizations and activists — many of which claim to celebrate and promote 'liberty,' — have chosen to make drag performance a proxy for their hate campaign against LBGTQ people in general and transgender people specifically," Goodwin said.
"They often like to proclaim that they are protecting people’s liberty when what they are actually doing is interfering with the rights and free speech of individuals. That is not liberty. It is not freedom. It is censorship."
Ultimately, though, the show will go on.
In the same email, ArtsQuest said its mission "is to provide access to exceptional artistic, cultural and educational experiences for everyone across our community."
"Our organization creates programming that is intended to be inclusive and cross all genres, regardless of beliefs. ArtsQuest will not tolerate hostile activities that may cause divisiveness toward any individual or group," the statement read.
Goodwin said the Eastern PA Trans Equity Project supports ArtsQuest and Musikfest as they revel in "all forms of entertainment."
"Musikfest is an amazing event that has hosted music and arts performances of all types – ranging from polka, to folk, to hard rock, to hip-hop, to comedy — for almost 40 years," Goodwin said. "Like the rest of these genres, drag is a long-established art form that deserves its place at this festival."
Tickets to "Draggin' With The Divas, with host Elektra Fearce St. James, start at $22.50 for ArtsQuest members and $25 for non-members.