Action Bronson

Action Bronson won't perform at Yonge-Dundas Square

Action Bronson will not take the stage at Yonge-Dundas Square for NXNE this year, after a petition launched against the show gained enough traction to force festival organizers to rethink their choice of headliners.

While NXNE's initial response was distastefully glib, a more thoughtful statement finally ensued after someone woke up and realized that Northby had another PR nightmare on its hands. It probably didn't hurt that Mayor John Tory expressed concern about the show.

The festival announced that Bronson's show would be cancelled at Yonge and Dundas after 5pm on Friday in the only bit of intelligent PR that's been shown throughout this whole fiasco. The decision has still been picked up by the international music press, which is hardly surprising.

It's unclear if Bronson will play at a private ticketed venue for the festival. NXNE has extended the invitation, but the no alternate location and date has been set at this time. Ultimately, the rapper will have to decide if he wants to come and play in Toronto. Had the show quietly been moved when the petition was first launched, one suspects that none of the controversy that ensued would have arisen in the first place.

Read the full statement from NXNE below.

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.


The Directors of North by Northeast

Photo by Niklas Sandstrom for the Flow Festival

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