A performing arts center in part funded by Tennessee taxpayers hosted an “all ages” drag show last month as Republicans in the Volunteer State propose protecting children from “sexually explicit” performances.
Over the Thanksgiving weekend, the James K. Polk Theatre, a part of the Tennessee Performing Arts Center (TPAC) in Nashville, hosted a presentation of “A Drag Queen Christmas,” which was put on by Murray & Peter Present. The event was advertised on Facebook as open for “all ages.”
The performance comes as State Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson has introduced legislation that would prohibit children from being exposed to sexually explicit drag and other performances
Johnson told The Daily Wire his legislation might apply to the performance at TPAC depending on if the drag performance was sexually explicit or not.
“I think we would all agree that some of the video we have seen recently of some of these drag shows that were quote-unquote family-friendly were anything but that. And If I had attended one of those with my kids I would have been mortified and I would have wanted someone to be prosecuted for engaging in that kind of entertainment in front of my kids,” he said.
He added that he was “cautiously optimistic” that his legislation would pass in the upcoming legislative session.
Jade Byers, a spokeswoman for Republican Governor Bill Lee, told The Daily Wire that “The Governor is grateful to Leader Johnson for his efforts on this important issue, and we look forward to working with the General Assembly to pass legislation that protects Tennessee children.”
According to program details, it was the eighth year that such a performance has been held at the venue. Video from performances of the Christmas drag show in other locations has emerged that appears to be explicit.
TPAC receives some funding through the Tennessee Arts Commission (TAC), a state government-sanctioned group to invest “public dollars” in projects that promote the state’s cultural life.
The TAC is listed as a “high impact” partner of TPAC. According to the TAC, money it designated in 2022 for TPAC went toward programs such as teacher training, afterschool programs, and theater performances for lifelong learners.
The TAC also designated about $1.9 million in federal money to TPAC over revenue loss due to the pandemic. The TAC did not comment on whether it was appropriate to send state funds to TPAC given its promotion and hosting of the drag Christmas show open to children.
A review of state budgets also shows that Tennessee allocates about $300,000 per year to TPAC, which TPAC says goes toward state “facilities in the Polk Cultural Center and the historic War Memorial Auditorium” that it operates.
According to Tony Marks, the vice president of marketing and communications for TPAC, the arts center has a “strong working relationship” with the state of Tennessee. “As a result, we are aware of these concerns and will take them into consideration related to venue rental decisions going forward,” Marks told The Daily Wire.
Murray & Peter Present’s drag Christmas show tour, which began in November, will conclude on December 29 after several performances in Florida.