The Associated Press: A small group of entertainers with Appalachian ties have refused to perform at the World Equestrian Games after complaining of a coal company’s sponsorship.
The Reel World String Band, Kentucky Wild Horse and Randy Wilson along with storyteller Octavia Sexton have declined to appear among the dozens of acts scheduled to perform, the Lexington Herald-Leader reported.
The artists recently learned that Alliance Coal was a main sponsor, and they would be performing in front of a banner proclaiming “Clean Coal.” The artists were chosen by the Kentucky Arts Council several months ago.
“I could not in good conscience allow myself to be used as an advertisement for an industry that has bought and corrupted our legislature and consistently blocked all efforts by our state to move ahead on sustainable energy,” said John Harrod, a member of the group Kentucky Wild Horse.
The performers who have bowed out have strong Appalachian ties, who often incorporate coal mines and miners into their performances. Reel World String Band’s song “The Taking,” includes a line about stopping “the greed of the coal companies.”
The Kentucky Arts Council selected the artists several months ago as part of an effort to showcase the state’s tourism, businesses and arts and crafts in a group of large structures at the Kentucky Horse Park. While the arts council was choosing performers, the state Department of Tourism was lining up sponsors.
Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet spokesman Gil Lawson said Alliance Coal is one of the major sponsors for the entertainment pavilion, contributing $275,000.
“We realize there are differing opinions and points of view about coal in this state,” Lawson said. “If the performers do not wish to perform at this venue, we respect their opinion and decision to do that.”
Performers are scheduled every night of the Games, which run from Sept. 25 to Oct. 10.
The arts council received 193 applications from artists who wanted to perform, narrowed that list to 110, and then chose 75, Lawson said. The council will go back to the list of 110 to replace the artists who have withdrawn.