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London Mayor to Do Away With Concert Form Grime Artists Called Racist

LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 03: The London Mayor Sadiq Khan attends the London Mela 2017 at Gunnersbury Park on September 3, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by John Phillips/Getty Images)

The London government announced today that it will do away with a controversial form that asked venues and concert promoters to turn over information like artist names and addresses to the police in advance of a concert. Introduced in 2005 and amended in 2009, Form 696 was routinely criticized as racist by grime and garage artists, who believed that their concerts were being disproportionately canceled or monitored.

“I called for a review of Form 696 earlier this year because of concerns raised by promoters and artists in the capital that this process was unfairly affecting specific communities and music genres,” Mayor Sadiq Khan said in a statement. “By bringing together the Met and representatives from across the city’s legendary grassroots music industry, we have shown why having a Night Czar is so important for London.”

Criticisms of Form 696 stem in part from the fact that it focuses on performances that involve DJs, MCs, and a “pre-recorded backing track,” rather than those that use a full band. According to Fact, until 2009, it included explicit questions about the genre of a given performance and the ethnic makeup of its audience. Even after those questions were removed, artists believed the form was being used to target particular genres. Grime artists like Giggs and P Money have said that their shows have been canceled because of information police gleaned from the form. P Money described the cancellations as a “race thing” in a BBC interview earlier this year. “There’s fights everywhere, there’s situations everywhere at all types of shows, all types of things, whether its punk, rock, hip hop, pop, whatever,” he added.

The news follows a similar reversal in New York City, where a century-old “cabaret law,” which banned dancing in establishments without a particular license, was recently repealed. The cabaret law was also criticized for discriminatory enforcement. Its original early 20th-century language included a strikingly similar provision to Form 696’s focus on DJs, banning brass and woodwind instruments–jazz instruments–from unlicensed clubs.