Fringe festival furore as state’s US$32 million arts budget vetoed

Fringe festivals have reacted with shock to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ vetoing all arts funding on the basis that some money would go to so-called ‘sexual’ fringe festivals.
Artists dressed in pink and purple promote their show on a grey street at Edinburgh Fringe.

The US$32 million (GBP25 million) arts budget for the US state of Florida has been vetoed by Republican Governor Ron DeSantis, who cited the ‘sexual’ nature of the state’s fringe festivals as forcing his hand.

‘We didn’t have control over how [the arts budget] was being given. So you have your tax dollars being given in grants to things like the Fringe Festival, which is like a sexual festival where they are doing all this stuff. How many of you think your tax dollars should go to fund that? Not very many people would do that,’ DeSantis said at a recent press conference.

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Richard Watts OAM is ArtsHub's National Performing Arts Editor; he also presents the weekly program SmartArts on Three Triple R FM. Richard is a life member of the Melbourne Queer Film Festival, a Melbourne Fringe Festival Living Legend, and was awarded the Sidney Myer Performing Arts Awards' Facilitator's Prize in 2020. In 2021 he received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Green Room Awards Association. Most recently, Richard received a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) in June 2024. Follow him on Twitter: @richardthewatts