Long ago, when the earth was big and new, people sailed the oceans in large ships. In those days, most sailors could not read.
They mounted elaborately carved, over-sized figures right on the front of the ship. Dragons, eagles, horses with bulging eyes, that kind of thing.
These creatures didn’t do much, except for one very important thing:
They identified the boat.
The headliner at a big music festival is kind of like that symbolic figurehead. It’s the big text at the top of the page. There is definitely more to it; more bands, more people involved, more creative effort and time, but in the end that’s the defining feature.
Fashion Meets Music Festival happening in Columbus was a very exciting prospect to us; a way to represent our city and help form its identity, as well as a symbol of new things to come. We were very honored and excited to be asked to be a part of it.
That being said, we were disappointed that the artist selected to headline the festival was R. Kelly. We feel his selection as a performer ignores his very serious allegations of sexual violence and assault. We feel it is an affront to all survivors, who are already often overlooked and forgotten in our society.
As a result, we’ve decided to withdraw from the festival. This is in no way meant to be a direct attack on the festival or its organizers; in fact, we genuinely appreciate their hard work and their commitment to bringing something new and exciting to our hometown. It is just that being so closely associated with this artist, especially here in our own hometown, is something we are not comfortable with.
We truly appreciate those who have already spoken out about this. It is inspiring to know so many others care about things of this very real and serious nature. The conversations, thoughts, and kinetic energy that these statements have garnered is inspiring.
We would like to offer the opportunity to channel this energy into something positive, so we plan to host an alternative concert. It will be a benefit that we hope will help in some way to support victims of sexual assault, as well as keep our minds on the issues at hand. Final details on that will be forthcoming.
We are aware that this action does not erase sexual assault or perpetrators of sexual violence from the world, nor does it keep R. Kelly from selling out venues and getting a check. We are simply hoping that this will encourage dialogue, as well as challenge our society’s norm of ignoring upsetting things because it is easier than facing them head-on. We believe that if there is anywhere that we can make a positive change, it is here: in our own relationships, communities, and cities.