San Francisco Symphony cancels NC performances over HB2

The San Francisco Symphony has canceled its North Carolina appearances for 2017. (Marcio Jose Sanchez)

The San Francisco Symphony announced Monday that it is canceling a planned concert in North Carolina in protest of House Bill 2.

The decision affects performances scheduled in Chapel Hill on April 5-6, 2017.

Soon after HB2, the so-called bathroom bill was passed and signed into law, San Francisco Mayor Edwin M. Lee issued a statement barring publicly-funded City employees from travelling to North Carolina on business.

Though the San Francisco Symphony is not a city entity, symphony officials said "it honors its role as a cultural ambassador to also include the values of the city whose name it carries."

Symphony officials said they waited as long as possible to make a decision, partly in hope that the law would be overturned.

"The Symphony today made the decision to cancel its appearances in North Carolina," said Executive Director Brent Assink. "In the months after HB2 became law, we have closely watched the fluctuating political landscape in hopes that the law would be overturned. Because that has not yet happened, and due to pressing internal travel deadlines, the San Francisco Symphony has made the decision to cancel its concerts at this time."

Full coverage of HB2 here

The symphony is the latest musical or sports and entertainment to cancel or postpone events in the Tar Heel State because of the controversial law.

HB2 was designed to block a Charlotte non-discrimination ordinance, part of which allowed transgender people to use bathrooms and locker rooms of the gender they identify with. The state law requires people to use the restroom according to their biological sex listed on their birth certificate in government buildings, schools, and universities. The law also excludes lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people from anti-discrimination protections and blocks municipalities from adopting their own anti-discrimination and living wage rules.

Many critics equate the law with discrimination against transgender people.

"We would have loved to perform at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, a community that in many ways is consonant with our own San Francisco Bay Area," Assink added. "But we also feel we must join our city, our state, the NBA, NCAA, and the many artists, organizations, and businesses who have chosen to not visit or contribute economically to North Carolina until legislation denying protection for the LGBT community has been overturned."

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North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory became a lightning rod for protest against the bill, which was passed by the Republican-led NC General Assembly. McCrory lost his bid for re-election to Democratic Attorney General Roy Cooper, a staunch opponent of the state law.

"I am disappointed that the San Francisco Symphony will not be performing at UNC-Chapel Hill in April, 2017 because of NC House Bill 2 (HB2) but I respect their decision to cancel," said Emil J. Kang, Carolina Performing Arts Executive and Artistic Director and Special Assistant to the Chancellor, "UNC-Chapel Hill policies - including protections for sexual orientation and gender identity - remain in effect, and we have never enforced HB2 on our campus. We at Carolina Performing Arts (CPA) will continue to foster inclusion and strive to provide an open, welcoming environment for all patrons."

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