News September 10, 2018

Boycotts, backtracks & apologies over Melbourne venue’s “African” tweet

Boycotts, backtracks & apologies over Melbourne venue’s “African” tweet
Sampa The Great

Melbourne venue has long been regarded as a place of diversity, but a tweet by owner Justin Stanford about the brawlers in and outside the Gasometer has caused a backlash.

The 200-strong brawlers were identified by police as African Australians and Pacific Islanders.

Last Thursday Stanford commented, “I’m totally afraid of hosting African shows now.

“[The brawlers] were so big and so high on ice and so committed to violence for the fun of it.”

The next day, realising he’d created a storm, Stanford withdrew his comments and apologised.“The recent situations at venues in Melbourne have been unnerving for me as a venue owner; however, I now realise that my comments in response to this were culturally insensitive and do not reflect the views of the venue staff,” he said.

“I deplore the discrimination being perpetrated against these communities by elements of the media and I apologise unreservedly for my remarks.”

However at least two acts refuse to play the venue again.

African-born responded on her Facebook page, calling Stanford’s earlier post “disappointing at best.”

She added, “So much African art and music has been performed in this venue, including 2 sold out shows of mine.

“It is racism at its most basic form to villainise and vilify my community, a whole race of people, while simultaneously profiting from our culture, music and art.

“I also want to make it clear that we see how versions of this racist rhetoric exist in the minds and actions of people in the music and wider communities.

“This isn’t new, and sadly it’s not even shocking. We deserve better, and I will not play at Night Cat again.”

Melbourne synth-punk band Nun also moved the first date of their The Dome Album tour on Friday, November 16 to the Thornbury Theatre, saying they “do not tolerate bigotry or hatred. Racism has no place ANYWHERE.”

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