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NAACP boycott has marginal effect on Spoleto, organizers say

The NAACP launched a tourism boycott of South Carolina to pressure lawmakers to remove the Condederate flag from the Capitol dome  

May 31, 2000
Web posted at: 6:19 p.m. EDT (2219 GMT)

CHARLESTON, South Carolina (CNN) -- An NAACP boycott may have tarnished the image of Charleston's Spoleto Festival USA, but festival organizers say the event is still raking in silver.

"It was an extraordinary opening weekend, with one day an absolute record for the festival by a long shot," said Spoleto Director Nigel Redden.

Ticket sales for the 17-day festival, which began Friday, are expected to rake in around $2 million. Last year's receipts totaled a record $2.2 million.

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VideoCNN's Brian Cabell looks at how the tourism boycott is impacting the Spoleto Festival
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The latest projections, say festival organizers, are an improvement over the forecast from last week, when Redden said ticket sales were off about 10 percent.

Still, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People's boycott is cutting into tourism. South Carolina has lost more than $20 million since the organization five months ago launched its economic boycott in an effort to banish the Confederate flag from atop the Capitol's dome.

Ticket sales for the festival are expected to bring in about $2 million  

Legislators offered a compromise, voting to move the flag to a location in front of the dome, but the NAACP said no. Flying it anywhere on state grounds, African-American leaders maintain, is offensive, and they want the flag encased in glass or sent to a museum.

"We are affirming our determination to continue the economic sanctions," said James Gallman, South Carolina's NAACP president.

Cancellations, replacements

  FULL STORY
Click for details on the injury to Antoine Rigot
 

Several artists have given those sanctions teeth. The Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company, the music-theater production "Running Man," and African-American singer Dianne Reeves all canceled appearances in support of the boycott.

Organizers have scrambled for replacements, and have signed Muna Tseng and the Marcus Roberts Trio to shore up the festival schedule. Tseng is an Asian dancer; Roberts is a pianist who is black and blind.

An accident also has meant misfortune for this year's festival. Antoine Rigot, an acrobat and tightrope walker with the French circus troupe, was hurt on Saturday when he misjudged a wave off Folly Beach, festival officials said.

Circus officials did not expect the 10 remaining shows to proceed unless they could replace him.

CNN.com Writer Mary Jo Lipman contributed to this report.


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RELATED STORIES:
Flag controversy shadows Charleston's Spoleto Festival
May 22, 2000
South Carolina legislature approves removing Confederate flag
May 18, 2000
Virginia governor averts NAACP tourism boycott
May 10, 2000

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RELATED SITES:
Spoleto Festival U.S.A. 2000
NAACP
South Carolina General Assembly

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