Manchester cannot lay claim to being the UK’s music capital until it stops censoring black music in its parks, music promoter Mike Forrester has argued. Speaking after reaching a settlement with Manchester Council following a High Court ruling that the local authority hadunlawfully prevented his Bob Marley Festival Tribute concert going ahead, Forrester said Manchester’s diverse communities were being cheated.
“Here we are in an Olympic year, which is supposed to be a celebration of Britain’s diversity, yet in Manchester an independent black music promoter cannot host a reggae, hip hop, soul or R&B outdoor event because the Council and the police think any music associated with black people brings increased security risks,” he said. “When it comes to large scale, outdoor events they don’t want to look past rock music or pop. It’s insulting to black people and it’s holding our city back. Are we really living in 2012 in Manchester, or still living in the 18th century? “Manchester might have produced the first black British group on Top of the Pops but the Council seems to want to airbrush us off the musical map.”
The Institute of Directors member added that his company Gold National Events Limited had tried to host an outdoor music event in Manchester’s Heaton Park this summer – where the Stone Roses recently played – but had been stymied by the Council again. “The restraint of my trade was proved unlawful in the High Court, yet this practice still continues within local authorities and police forces,” he argued. “It’s time to end this now. There is a clear need for a public inquiry due to the lack of Black music events being able to take place in the UK. This specifically relates to commercial ventures. There is a very sad undercurrent of implied racism; that it is in the interests of all parties to dispel.
“Too many black music promoters are telling me they face a restraint of trade in their cities nationwide,” he said. “Promoters, venue owners and people in the music industry are all saying the same thing: that they’re being blocked by the authorities and having their licence removed for no good reason. When the police and local authority see themselves as arbiters of culture then Britain is destined to become a much duller place.”