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UK minister voices concerns over ‘anti-grime’ 696

Matt Hancock, known to the music biz for pushing for a ticket bot ban, has criticised the risk assessment form as hurting London's venues by discriminating against grime

By IQ on 28 Mar 2017

Stormzy, Øyafestivalen 2016, 'grime ban'

Stormzy is one of a new generation of British grime acts to achieve mainstream success

image © Kim Erlandsen/NRK P3

Matt Hancock MP, the UK’s minister of state for digital and culture, has written to the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, to express his concern that promoters of grime and other “urban music events” are being forced out of the capital by a controversial risk-assessment form.

‘Form 696′, a document issued by the Metropolitan police to those requesting permission to hold an event, requires potential licensees to list performers’ and promoters’ names, addresses and phone numbers, the style of music to be performed and the event’s target audience. It is the requests for information on genre and audience that are particularly controversial, with critics accusing the police of racial profiling by singling out primarily black musical styles such as grime, garage and bashment.

Hancock says form 696 risks hurting London’s embattled small-venue scene, which has only recently recovered after a long period of decline, by “pushing organisers and promoters of urban music events to take them outside London” to cities that don’t use the form.

In his letter, shared with The Independent, Hancock writes: “I am concerned that the form is not only potentially stifling young artists and reducing the diversity of London’s world-renowned musical offering, but is also having a negative impact on London’s night-time economy by pushing organisers and promoters of urban music events to take them outside London. This form is just used in London and not other UK cities.

“British music is successful because it is diverse. It is right that government is stepping in on this issue”

“I appreciate that form 696 is a risk assessment designed to allow the management of licensed premises, promoters of music events, event security and the police to work in partnership to identify and minimise any risk of serious crime happening at a proposed event. But I’m sure you will agree that anything which has the potential to impact negatively on free expression and London’s economy, while denying young people the opportunity to attend and perform at certain events, needs careful consideration.

“Genres of urban music like grime have the same significance for today’s young people as punk did in the 1970s, empowering them, creating a new generation of musical heroes and growing to become a worldwide phenomenon. I strongly believe that we should be encouraging and embracing all musical genres, building on London’s rich musical history as the city that gave us The Kinks, David Bowie, The Sex Pistols and Amy Winehouse.

“I would like to understand whether you think form 696 is serving a justified purpose and working well, or whether there is a case for changing the current system.”

Music industry umbrella group UK Music says it welcomes Hancock’s intervention. Chief executive Jo Dipple comments: “UK Music thanks the minister, who has a track record of stepping in to support British musicians. [Hancock was also instrumental in brokering the impending ban on ticket bots.]

“Genres of urban music like grime have the same significance for today’s young people as punk did in the 1970s”

“It is important to make sure form 696 is not being unfairly used against particular musical genres. Discrimination against any musician damages all of us. It reduces the diversity of our output and limits our ability to reach our economic potential.

“We ask that anyone with first-hand experience of misuse of form 696 contacts UK Music. British music is successful because it is diverse. It is right that government is stepping in on this issue and we will work with the minister, the mayor’s office and the Metropolitan police to properly examine and address any misuse of this form.”

She adds, however, that her comments should be not construed as a “criticism of the Met police, who do amazing work in very difficult circumstances”.


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