As is well known, I am and always have been the Director of Bluesfest.
Over the years, Bluesfest has been the promoter of music festivals which allowed diverse artists to exercise their freedom of artistic expression and have afforded the Australian public access to their works.
In the course of doing so, Bluesfest has been proud to give prominence to indigenous artists and to promote diversity in the music industry.
Recently, a band decided to cancel a forthcoming appearance at Bluesfest because Sticky Fingers, particularly its lead singer (who are booked to play at Bluesfest), was involved in an incident with another artist offstage a long time ago.
There has already been a lot of social media traffic about this decision. I think one commentator well reflects my feelings, as previously stated:
“That whole situation happened 7 years ago and the lead singer of Sticky Fingers has been extremely apologetic and open about his bipolar schizophrenia and substance abuse during that time and is also Māori. They’ve done the work to try and make amends and took a long hiatus to fix things.”
I believe an attempt to victimise this man and his band in the circumstances is cruel and unforgiving. This cruelty and lack of compassion are foreign to my values, as is the attempt to suppress the band’s artistic expression. I was and remain proud to give the band a chance at rehabilitation.
Bluesfest hopes that the public will understand, respect, and hopefully, on reflection, agree with the position my company and I have taken. Forgiveness is critical to helping people with mental health challenges continue functioning in society.
It has been suggested that because of the listing of Sticky Fingers, Bluesfest and I endorsed the lead singer’s ancient troubled behaviour. That suggestion is deplorable, untrue, and actionable as being defamatory.