A theatre company has pulled out of plans to stage a major production following a “racism row”.
The National Theatre of Scotland was set to stage a new drama about country music at the Grand Ole Opry, a members club in Glasgow.
But it withdrew earlier this month due to a row over the use of the Confederate flag in the venue, a symbol which many see as racist and a symbol of white supremacy.
The Grand Ole Opry puts on a flag-folding ceremony using the controversial flag, which regulars at the venue are fighting to keep going despite performers cancelling bookings and it causing fights.
Club members have launched a petition to restore the Confederate “Southern Cross” flag to the centre of club events, according to the Daily Record.
The Confederate flag was first used during the American Civil War by the slave-owning Southern states and has since become intertwined with the white supremacist movement.
It was flown by the KKK and used during the 2017 Charlottesville Unite the Right neo-Nazi march and in the January 6 attack on Washington in 2021.
One source told the Daily Record: “The National Theatre of Scotland saw the Grand Ole Opry as the perfect venue for a production about country and western music, which they are keeping under wraps for now but are very excited about. They didn’t want to be associated with anything racist.
“There was some talk about taking down the Confederate flag during the performances but producers could see how that could backfire quite badly if they simply put them up again after the play had moved on.”
In an email, the National Theatre of Scotland wrote: “NTS has made a commitment to becoming an anti-racist organisation, with part of this commitment including considering not just the work that we present but the places and contexts in which we present it.
“With this in mind, we feel we could not in good conscience present work in the Opry while the Confederate flag continues to fly in the venue.
“Even were the flag to be taken down during performances, returning it afterwards would signal to artists we work with and audiences we engage with that our commitment to being an anti-racist organisation had been compromised.”
One club member said: “The hardliners would rather fly a flag that most people in 2023 regard as overtly racist than host Scotland’s most prestigious theatre company. It speaks volumes and it is a very sad day for the club, whose members are threatening its very existence.”
Another member added: “After the Daily Record got in touch, the rebel group were totally unrepentant and turned up on Saturday with a petition to bring back the flag folding. People also turned up and bought Confederate shirts from the merchandise store in the club, which was a bit incendiary in itself.
“It’s all a bit fraught and the problem is that there are so many of the long-time members in the club who simply won’t give up on the use of the Confederate flag, no matter what it symbolises in 2023.”
The club’s committee recently made a decision to remove flags from the walls of the club and to suggest that the “Trilogy” ceremony at the end of each night – which involves members folding the flag – instead swaps in the Stars and Stripes.
Express.co.uk has contacted the club for comment.