Georgetown ‘Old South Ball’ now declining city grant money

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GEORGETOWN, Texas (KXAN) — A dance paying homage to Civil War times continues to cause controversy in Georgetown.

Organized by the Williamson Museum, promotion of the Old South Ball was initially supposed to be paid for by a city grant from the Convention and Visitor’s Bureau (CVB).

“I think a disservice was done to some of our citizens, that their point of view was not considered in the planning of this, but I do not think that was intentional.” said Rachael Jonrowe, District 6 council member. “But then you have the impact, and the reality of how people are responding to this event.”

Jonrowe says she’s long opposed the ball. However, once she heard the museum received city funds she decided to take action. She put an item on next week’s agenda to deny the museum the grant funds. However, late Thursday evening, KXAN learned the museum is now declining the money.

But the issue will still be on Tuesday’s agenda. Jonrowe hopes to change their CVB grant policy to make sure that city money doesn’t fund events that could reasonably be considered exclusionary or discriminatory.

“I know these grants are not for a lot of money, but it’s not about the money, it’s about the principle,” said Jonrowe. “And any time city money is going to be used to sponsor an event, we need to make sure that it is something that is completely inclusive and represents our values as a city.”

Georgetown resident Kenneth Hoke-Witherspoon says he personally doesn’t feel welcome at the event. “There was a place at the Old South Balls for people like myself,” said Hoke-Witherspoon. “But it was serving, it was being deferential, and it was not making eye contact.”

Hoke-Witherspoon says he’s a Civil War historian and that he’s fought to keep monuments and flags at battlefields and gravesites.

However, he could not support the Old South Ball, and doesn’t know any African-Americans in the community attending. “I think it’s in bad taste. A fundraiser, a fundraiser I don’t feel I’ve been invited to.”

KXAN reached out to Mickie Ross, the museum’s executive director, but she declined to go on camera. Ross did say that the loss of grant money doesn’t impact the event, and that it’s sold out.

Silent protesters have said they will be outside of the dance, scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 30.

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