Theater festivals offer to give up grants if DeSantis restores funding for Florida arts groups – Winnipeg Free Press

The leaders of two performing arts festivals said Thursday they would be happy to give up their grants if Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis restores the $32 million in state funding he stripped for more than 600 arts groups in Florida, explaining the reason for his veto was that the two Theatrical events were “a sexual festival”.

Leaders of The Orlando Fringe and Tampa Fringe described the governor’s description as inaccurate Thursday at a news conference, but they said it was important for the state’s arts groups to be funded because they play critical roles in their communities. The Orlando festival had been projected to get $70,500, and the Tampa festival was in line to get $7,500 before the veto.

“Like you, the Orlando and Tampa Fringe festivals care deeply about the citizens of Florida,” they said in an open letter to the governor. “Given the common ground, we hope you will read this letter with an open mind and fully consider the proposal below.”

A summer intern places a rainbow flag in the Stonewall Museum’s library, Wednesday, June 26, 2024, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The Stonewall Museum hosts an extensive archive of LGBTQ+ history and the largest library collection in the world. The museum is one of hundreds of arts and cultural groups in the state struggling to close a major budget gap after Gov. Ron De Santis vetoed $32 million in arts funding. (AP Photo/Marta Lavandier)

Asked to respond to the letter, a spokeswoman for DeSantis referred to the governor’s June 27 comments when he cited the Fringe festivals as something taxpayers would be reluctant to have their money directed toward.

“When I see money being spent like that, I have to be the one to stand up for the taxpayers and say, ‘You know what?’ It is an inappropriate use of taxpayer money,” DeSantis said.

Critics blasted the veto, saying it was an extension of DeSanti’s culture wars in which he has supported laws limiting what can be said in classrooms about sexual orientation and gender identity and banning the teaching of an academic framework that describes how systemic racism is part of American society .