Boycott For Choice: Can Artists Be Profiles in Courage?

If you are an artist and pro-choice, you have to confront a terrible and difficult question.

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It's one thing to protest. Do artists also have the stomach to boycott?

The legislatures of eight states believe that it’s OK to take reproductive choice away from women. And while it is easy to decry this Handmaid’s Tale set of folks as backward, out of touch or just jerks, what is harder is for artists to decide what they’re going to do about it. Should artists boycott those states by a) not visiting them, b) not convening in them, and yes, c) not working in them?

Courage is derived not from being hit blindsided and surviving. Rather, courage is derived from knowing that you will be harmed but doing the right thing anyway. We know that profiles in courage are rare sights today, especially among politicians. Should it also be rare among artists — especially those who create their work and exist in their lives within the echo liberal thought? Sometimes it is. Or at least we’re going to find out.

Entertain this thought: the eight states that have now passed abortion-restriction laws that are designed to overturn Roe v. Wade are, alphabetically: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio and Utah. By my count, there are at least 47 nonprofit theater companies in these states that are members of Theatre Communications Group (TCG), a national service organization:

There are, of course, other theaters in those states that are simply not current members of TCG. And there are myriad symphony orchestras, dance and opera companies, museums and galleries and nonprofit and commercial arts and culture institutions of every imaginable mission and stripe.

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If you are an artist or an arts administrator and you are reading this, you need to confront a terrible and difficult question. Are you going to boycott working for arts companies in the eight states that believe it’s OK to take reproductive choice away from women until they come out of the dark ages? Working with, working for and otherwise supporting these organizations — even if they are all clear beacons of hope within their respective states — is still unfortunately working with, working for and otherwise supporting those who want to punish women. The taxes generated in, and spent by, these states pay the very politicians who voted for this garbage. Ask yourself: do you plan to work in Alabama any time soon? How about Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio and Utah?

Or do you boycott?

The choice is yours.