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Artists, Sponsors Revolt Over Dizzee Rascal Festival Inclusion

30 December 2022 | 11:35 am | Mary Varvaris

UK rapper Dizzee Rascal will headline Perth’s Langley Park NYE celebrations despite growing outrage over his New Zealand appearances.

(Source: Supplied)

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Artists and big-name sponsors such as Vodafone have voiced their concern over Rhythm And Vines festival in New Zealand due to its inclusion of rapper Dizzee Rascal.

Earlier this year, Rascal - real name Dylan Mills - was handed a one-year restraining order against his ex-fiancee. Rascal was found guilty of assaulting Cassandra Jones in June 2021. 

At the beginning of this month, Beneath The Glass Ceiling NZ issued an open letter to Rhythm And Vines festival, its sponsors, and Live Nation New Zealand and criticised the decision to include Rascal on the bill, writing that "domestic violence is no joke".

The advocacy group added, "One in three women will experience intimate partner violence in their lifetime. You have the ability to set a hard-line and to say no to perpetrators of violence; it is in your power to help us set a precedent for a safer industry and yet you have chosen not to."

Beneath The Glass Ceiling NZ called on Rhythm And Vines to take Rascal off the line-up.

"We are asking you to set a zero-tolerance precedent for offenders of violence and sexual harassment going forward. We are asking you to put victims of domestic violence first and to show rangatahi that we do not condone violence in our music industry by removing Dizzee Rascal from the Rhythm & Vines line-up," they wrote.

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Two days ago, RNZ reported that Vodafone would no longer have its branding on stages during Rascals' set at Rhythm And Vines festival following the controversy. 

Vodafone's Head of Corporate Affairs, Conor Roberts, said in a press release quoted by RNZ, "We are extremely disappointed with the decision to select Dizzee Rascal to headline the [festival]," but that Vodafone would still sponsor the festival.

Today, an artist performing at the festival - who asked to be unnamed - told RNZ, "When the whole line-up got announced with us on it, that's when we saw who else was in the line-up."

The artist claimed that it sounded like festival organisers knew about Rascal's conviction, to which she added, "You feel weird promoting yourself on the line-up because we didn't agree to that."

Dizzee Rascal will also headline Perth's Langley Park New Year's Eve celebrations despite the growing outrage over his New Zealand festival appearances - he's also slated to perform at the Golden Lights and Golden Rush festivals in Auckland and Christchurch.

The Langley Park New Year's Eve event promotes Rascal's appearance, stating that it's his "ONLY Australian show."