Last updated on 09/03/2021
More than 1300 people have signed an online petition at Change.org since Sunday, calling for the Fringe to remove the event after a photograph of its organiser Shayne Budgen wearing a white Ku Klux Klan-style hood was shared online.
However, Mr Budgen strenuously denied that he is racist or that the event contains racist material.
He said that the hood mask and other photographs taken from social media showing him and fellow event participants in Nazi-style fetish costumes were part of previous “bad taste” theme nights.
Members of the Fringe board met with Mr Budgen on Monday evening to discuss the concerns raised online.
“By its nature, the Adelaide Fringe is very liberal and makes every attempt to give priority to artists,” the board said in a prepared statement.
“While Adelaide Fringe is open access, the Fringe terms and conditions state that it can not accept any event, content or material that is liable to promote or incite misogynistic, racial, ethnic, religious or homophobic hatred, or any content that promotes hatred of any particular community or persons.
“In reviewing the situation, the Board of the Adelaide Fringe has made a decision to remove this show from the Fringe and ticketing platform.”
Mr Budgen said the shows on February 14 and March 13 – the opening and closing weekends of the Fringe – would still go ahead as part of his monthly themed Switch event at the Enigma Bar on Hindley St.
Tickets would be sold through an alternative agency or at the door.
Mr Budgen said he thought that his conversation with the Fringe board had gone well and he was surprised by its decision.
“I thought it was leading to hopefully a better conclusion than what we’ve gone to now,” he said.
“Unfortunately, to me it labels me as a bigot, so I am going to be probably taking it now to my lawyer.”
The petition was started by Sydney burlesque artist, emcee and music theatre performer Joshua Harrison, 26, who welcomed the Fringe’s decision.
“It did really fire me up to see someone in a costume that incites so much painful memories and hurtful memories for people,” Mr Harrison said.
“While I understood that Shayne was doing it from a place of potentially dark humour … that’s just not acceptable in this day and age, particularly the Ku Klux Klan hood and the Nazi uniform, because of their history and what they stand for.”
The Advertiser has been sent other social media posts by Mr Budgen, including one in which he said he sometimes wore “a nazi uniform or military type look 4 some parties … even a kkk white hood … Very bad taste but sexc (sic) as f***”.
Mr Harrison said that particular remark “made my blood boil”.
“I still believe that Fringe is a place for challenging ideas and societal concepts – it is the responsibility of the arts to do that,” Mr Harrison said
“In saying that, there are certain behaviours and certain things and ways to present yourself that are just unacceptable across the board.”