Organizers, Kansas agencies: No state money used toward drag shows

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Published: Oct. 24, 2022 at 10:57 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - The Kansas GOP is pressing Governor Laura Kelly’s administration on allegations of state funding going toward drag shows, claiming that children that attend are being exposed to sexually explicit and inappropriate behavior.

This comes after the British tabloid, “The Daily Mail,” published a story claiming to connect the governor’s administration with at least partial financial support of drag shows. But organizers of the events in question say the story isn’t true and it was all a misunderstanding.

“The Daily Mail” article claims that state grants from the Kansas Department of Commerce funded two drag shows in Wichita this month. 12 News reached out to organizers who said the claims are false.

Last Saturday, Oct. 22, an event called the DADA Ball was facilitated by Harvest Arts at Chainlink Gallery Place downtown. This included a drag show. The department of commerce said that while Harvester Arts has received a grant from them, it did not directly go to the drag show event, which it says was funded through the Knight Foundation and private donors. The department of commerce said the organizer of the DADA Ball mistakenly listed the department as a sponsor in association with the event.

In addition, a drag show hosted by a local artist group is slated for Friday, Oct. 28, at Open Studios’ space in Towne West Square. OpenStudios pairs local artists with empty spaces to use for their own endeavors. While Fisch Bowl, Inc. has received a grant to cover administrative and utility expenses at OpenStudios’ Towne West space, OpenStudios Director Elizabeth Stevenson said that none of the grant money is going to the drag show event and the Kansas Department of Commerce logo was placed on its printed material and social media posts per standard practice.

“Neither the Kansas Creative Arts Industries Commission (KCAIC) nor the Kansas Department of Commerce sponsored the DADA Ball event that took place October 22 or the Mall Monster Mash event scheduled for October 28,” Kansas Department of Commerce Marketing and Communications Director Patrick Lowery summarized in a statement.

The original article in “The Daily Mail” offered no proof of state grant money going to a drag show. However, organizers have also not offered receipts to show it didn’t.