Two weeks ago, amidst the rigorous planning of the next Folk Alliance International Conference in Kansas City, we received the shocking yet not-unexpected news of the Supreme Court decision that overturned the precedent set by Roe v. Wade over fifty years ago. Within hours, the Missouri State Attorney General signed a severe “trigger law” creating one of the strictest abortion bans in the country.
We the board denounce the Supreme Court’s divisive and hateful decision. It is not just an attack on the reproductive health of our staff, our members, and our entire musical community, but a dangerous setback for everyone’s healthcare and fundamental human rights.
FAI is a Missouri-based organization with three years remaining on its current office lease and almost a million dollars in hotel contract liability over the next two conference years. Any possibility of moving FAI’s headquarters or the next two conferences out-of-state would unquestionably be financially ruinous for the organization (as well as detrimental and unfair to our staff).
We understand, however, that some regular conference attendees may not want to travel or spend money in states with strict anti-abortion laws, a fact that we completely respect. For those who do decide to attend, we encourage you to use your stages to speak — and sing! — out in the great folk tradition of protest, and we are discussing various options for spaces and times at the conference dedicated to peer discussion regarding the echoes of implications this decision will have for generations to come.
We as a board have also recommended that support systems and policies be implemented for staff members who may need health care out of state.
Folk music has always been about representing the people and speaking truth to power. Now more than ever, we must remember that truth, speak out, and take action in whatever way we can.
Amy Reitnouer Jacobs
President, Folk Alliance International Board of Directors