Hebden Bridge Burlesque Festival organiser have today called the decision by the Picture House Committee on Hebden Royd Town Council to veto the event at the venue “out-moded, ill-informed and unfair”.
An application was made to use the town’s art deco cinema for a one-off Burlesque event in May of next year as part of the second annual Hebden Bridge Burlesque Festival. However, the request was refused on the grounds that the Picture House Committee did not wish the town council to be “associated” with the event.
Festival coproducer Lizzy Goodman, who also produces The Frou Frou Burlesque and Cabaret in the town and runs burlesque courses and showgirl fitness classes in Hope Baptist Church Hall, said: “Not for a moment did we expect that we would be refused on moral grounds, especially in a venue that regularly stages stand up comedy and 18 certificate films.
“We are surprised that the committee can act as censors in this way. We would have liked to have been able to stage the event and allow people to decide for themselves if they wish to attend, especially as our audience statistics for 2013 show that over a quarter of tickets sold for the 2013 event were purchased by Hebden Royd rate payers.
“It seems that some members of the town council are not as liberal as they would have us believe, which is such a shame, since the town has a reputation for being one of the most tolerant and inclusive places to live in the UK.”
At the meeting, it was resolved that “the Picture House Committee does not feel that it is appropriate for Hebden Royd Town Council to be associated with the Hebden Bridge Burlesque Festival. Burlesque arouses strong feelings, and many people feel it is demeaning to women, and raises issues of gender equality. It is also inevitable if held in the Hebden Bridge Picture House that it would be seen to be associated with Hebden Royd Town Council, so the committee, taking a view on this issue only, declines the approach to host a part of the Hebden Bridge Burlesque Festival. This obviously does not prevent the Festival Organisers from seeking alternative venues within the town.”
But the decision of the committee was not completely unanimous. Councillor Christine Davenport, who sits on the committee, said: “I voted to support the Festival and do not agree with the decision to refuse permission for The Picture House to be used during Hebden Bridge Burlesque Festival. In my opinion, it is up to the individual person to decide if they want to attend or not.“