Melb Artist Boycotts Venue After Owner's Remarks: "Racism At Its Most Basic Form"

10 September 2018 | 4:09 pm | Staff Writer

"Disappointing at best..."

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Australian Music Prize-winning artist Sampa The Great has revealed that she'll be boycotting Melbourne live music venue, The Night Cat, following comments allegedly made by the venue's owner in a Facebook post at the weekend.

As reported by Junkee, The Night Cat's Justin Stanford stated that, "I’m totally afraid of hosting African shows now", amongst other comments, on a Facebook thread about recent situations at Melbourne venues. The origin of this conversation is unclear though a screenshot of an Instastory has been shared on social media.

Stanford has since responded to social media backlash following his comments in a post to The Night Cat's Facebook page.

"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. I deplore the discrimination being perpetrated against these communities by elements of the media and I apologise unreservedly for my remarks," Stanford wrote in the post on Friday morning. 

"The Night Cat prides itself on celebrating a variety of cultures and we are still learning, and working towards more ways to ensure that our venue is an inclusive and safe space for all. Peace and love to all."

Following the post, Sampa The Great shared a statement to her Facebook page, saying Stanford's original comments were "disappointing at best."

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"So much African art and music has been performed in this venue, including 2 sold out shows of mine," the statement reads.

"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."

The Bamboos' singer Kylie Auldist has since commented on The Night Cat's post, saying "The last time I sang at the Night Cat was a sold out gig in celebration of Fela Kuti. It was an amazing night and I didn't sense any bad vibes, racist or otherwise. Fear of riots is fair, but as José sensibly said [in reference to another commenter about writing in a public space] you are in a public forum and one should never say the King has no clothes!"

The Music has reached out to The Night Cat for comment.