NXNE Festival Cancels Free Action Bronson Show After Community Protest
Toronto’s North By Northeast (NXNE) music festival has canceled a free, all-ages Action Bronson show at Yonge-Dundas Square due to a massive backlash online. Organizers are hoping to instead host a ticketed performance by the rapper that won't be in a public space.
Activist Erica Shiner started a Change.org petition to shut down the June 21 show because she said Bronson is "a musician who glorifies rape and violence against women (and) should not be invited to perform at a public space in our city."
As of today (May 29), the petition has more than 38,000 online signatures. In a statement issued this afternoon, festival organizers said the move is not censorship. Read the entire release here:
We at Northby Northeast (NXNE) are very proud of our 20 plus years relationship with the people of the City of Toronto. And for almost ten years we’ve shared Yonge-Dundas Square with you to present free, all ages shows open to the public. YDS is the city’s space and as such we are obliged to listen to how the city and community want it used. A significant number of Torontonians have indicated their desire to have Action Bronson not perform at the Square. As annual guests in this space we feel we must accede to the strong wishes of the community and honour their input.
As a result, we will not be presenting Action Bronson at Yonge-Dundas Square but,hopefully we will still be presenting Action Bronson as part of Northby. We remain fundamentally committed to presenting this artist on a Toronto stage. We are not moving the Action show because we believe in censoring him or any other artists. In fact, we find the limiting of artistic expression distasteful. When artistic expression is limited, freedom and the evolution of ideas is often the casualty.
Hopefully, Action Bronson will accept our invitation to play at another, ticketed venue in the city so the public can decide for themselves if his work has merit. We booked Bronson, in part, because of his latest excellent disc, Mr. Wonderful.
We hope that this series of events does not foster some type of artistic chill in Toronto and its public spaces. Yonge-Dundas Square must remain a dynamic place where many viewpoints are expressed not just culturally but also at political events and rallies staged there.
We are heartened by the community engagement that has been taking place around this YDS show. This debate continues an important conversation about violence against women and its depiction in art and culture that is long overdue. We salute all of those who fight this battle and we would encourage everyone who has signed the petition or been engaged by this conversation to commit themselves personally to continuing the fight against violence against women. We at Northby pledge to continue being part of this discussion with the intent to help act as agents of change.
Bronson has yet to respond to the news. But we imagine he might say something along the lines of the first couple lyrics of "Baby Blue" (watch the video below).
Action Bronson (feat. Chance the Rapper) – "Baby Blue" (Official Music Video)