After a phenomenally successful inaugural burlesque festival last year the burlesque community feels that the council's desicion to ban the Picture House being used as a venue next year is ill-informed, does not represent the views of the people of the town and sets a dangerous precedent. As a council building the Picture House is a publicly owned venue. In its capacity as a public servant (not a moral guardian) the council is doing a disservice to the people of Hebden Bridge and the surrounding area.
The Picture House is the only venue within Hebden Bridge with the capacity to hold the large numbers of spectators expected and next year's festival and banning the use of the building for the event is not only economically short-sighted but also in direct contrast to the values of tolerance, acceptance and inclusivity which Hebden Bridge is nationally known for.
The community is of the opinion that Hebden Royd Town Council has a misconcieved idea of the nature of burlesque as an entertainment and art form and has took it upon itself to act as a moral guardian for adults who are more than capable of rational decision making. The festival showcases the best of burlesque and variety entertainment from across the nation and is committed to gender and racial equality, anti-homophobia and transphobia, charitable donations and providing live entertainment (and jobs) for the people of the surrounding area.
Yes, burlesque does indeed include a level of semi-nudity. However the community feels that the type of entertainment provided has been misrepresented to the council. Far from being demeaning to women burlesque has enabled the organisers (both women) to run their own very successful business, employ other people (both male and female) , support local businesses and provide some jolly good entertainment, both comedic and titillating but never sleazy or demeaning to women. The council has also overlooked the fact that around 70% of burlesque audiences are made up of women. Women do indeed find certain things demeaning and patronising, one of those is having their decisions made for them and assumptions made about what they find offensive.
The burlesque community believes that the council is setting a dangerous precedent, where a legal and legitimate form of entertainment is excluded from a public owned building on the moral decisions of the few, at the detriment to the majority. The people of Hebden Bridge are more than capable of deciding what they find agreeable and are free to buy tickets to the event or not, as the case may be. In the spirit of tolerance, freedom, acceptance and good old fashioned entertainment, we ask that the ban be overturned.
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