A grime and electronic music event at the Barbican has been cancelled less than a week before its opening date. Just Jam, the live online music channel, was invited by the Barbican to put on an all-day event featuring artists like Mount Kimbie, Big Narstie and Omar Souleyman – but the event fell afoul of police concerns about public safety.
A spokesperson for the City of London police declined to elaborate further on what these concerns entailed, saying: "All we can say is that it was public safety concerns that formed the reasoning behind the Barbican decision to cancel the event." According to the spokesperson, the police did not demand to scrap the event, stating that it was the decision of the Barbican to go ahead with the cancellation.
The Barbican apologised for any disappointment caused by the cancellation, saying: "As a responsible public venue we have to take police advice seriously and consider the safety of audience members, artists and our staff." A representative from the venue said that its management had already been "in conversation with police over the past few days".
Just Jam's founders, grime photography duo Tim & Barry, told Dazed, "This is a devastating day for us and we are still very much in the dark as to why it has happened." The pair had been planning the event for eight months, and said the police had not contacted them directly with any problems during that time. "The first we heard of any concerns was early yesterday morning," they said, which was when they were told by the Barbican that the event could not go ahead.
When asked if cancelling the event was the only way to assauge police concerns, Tim & Barry said, "It is very hard to say as the police have not shared evidence with us. We’re hoping to start a dialogue with the police with regards to this matter."
Over 1,000 tickets had already been sold for the event, which was expected to sell out within a few days. The Barbican will be offering a full refund to all ticket buyers and will also be paying the artists scheduled to perform in full.
Ticketholders on the event's Facebook page have immediately pointed the finger at City of London police, with allegations that the police are criminally profiling grime and electronic music fans. "They have done 10 mins googling, seen a few 'ruff necks' and cancelled it," one user declared.
It's worth noting, too, that Tim & Barry have been successfully running creative workshops with the Barbican for the past few weeks – maybe it only becomes a problem for local police once Just Jam followers congregate in their thousands. Either way, sad times for grime fans.
UPDATE: City of London police have just issued a press statement, which says that they were concerned about the fact that "alcohol would be on sale at an event which would be allowing entry to anyone aged 16 or over" as well as the potential for overcrowding.