North Carolina musician boycott is decimating local businesses

Burning money

Burning money ANNA GRONEWOLD, Associated Press

GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) — Stagehand Kery Eller doesn’t own any Bruce Springsteen albums, but he would smash them if he did.

Eller says he expected to earn at least $3,000 working the sold-out Springsteen concert and other high-profile shows around the state before artists canceled the events in protest over North Carolina‘s new LGBT law.

Eller and about 100 members of the local union of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees are among the many workers and businesses caught in the crossfire of the national debate over LGBT rights and feeling the economic shockwaves from the growing number of canceled shows. Hotels, restaurants, bars and even community groups who work arena concession stands say they are suffering from the boycott.

“It’s my livelihood; it’s where I make my money,” Eller said. “It’s not just hurting the entertainment industry. It’s hurting our state overall, period. And I’m not talking politically at all.”

The wide-reaching law that directs transgender people to use the public bathroom that aligns with the sex on their birth certificate was signed by Republican Gov. Pat McCrory in March. Since then, Pearl Jam, violinist Itzhak Perlman, Ringo Starr and Cirque Du Soleil have canceled. On Friday, the pop group Maroon 5 became the latest entertainer to decide to skip the state. Other acts performed but donated proceeds from their shows to groups fighting the law.

McCrory, who has sued the Justice Department over its directive allowing transgender students to use their preferred bathroom, has continued his support of the law. His campaign issued a statement Friday condemning Maroon 5’s recent cancellation, saying the artists’ boycott only hurts people of North Carolina and arena employees.

The last-minute cancellations are disappointing to fans, but more devastating to venue staff, said promoter Gregg McCraw, owner of MaxxMusic in Charlotte.

“Springsteen fired the first shot, and he cancelled that show only two or three days before the show,” McCraw said. “That had a major impact. The venue clearly couldn’t get anything else in there.”

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