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NXNE cancels free Action Bronson concert at Yonge-Dundas Square after complaints

Last Updated May 29, 2015 at 11:33 pm EDT

Controversial New York rapper Action Bronson won’t be headlining next month’s free North by Northeast (NXNE) show at Yonge-Dundas Square after organizers pulled him from the venue following complaints about his misogynistic lyrics.

In a statement released on Friday, NXNE said: “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.”

A Change.org petition was recently launched to have Bronson pulled from Yonge-Dundas Square.

As of Friday evening, it had nearly 40,000 signatures.

It was started by Erica Shiner, who said she wasn’t trying to censor the rapper, but didn’t feel his lyrics were appropriate for a free concert at a public space.

“He’s crossed the line by glorifying gang rape and murdering women,” she said.

“It’s one thing for people to put that out there…but inviting it into a public space is a completely different matter.”

NXNE said it was still hopeful the rapper would perform at a different location.

“…hopefully we will still be presenting Action Bronson as part of (NXNE). 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..”

Bronson has penned controversial songs like Consensual Rape, with lyrics like, “If seven dudes are in the room then she’s pleasing them like a trooper,” and “Don’t get me pissed off, f**k around rip your t**s off.”

Earlier, Mayor John Tory weighed in saying that while he respected artists, he didn’t feel the act was appropriate at a public space.

“I did say that for this kind of performance to take place, certainly in a public space, was not consistent with our policies.”

Tory, however, said he would ultimately leave the decision up to NXNE.

Read NXNE’s full statement 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 10 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.

Sincerely,
The Directors of North by Northeast