SALMO (NEWS 1130) — An annual electronic music festival in Salmo, B.C. has postponed its virtual event due to sexual assault allegations made against at least one performer.
The Shambhala Music Festival was set to begin July 23, but allegations have been made about U.K. artist Billy Kenny, who has played at the festival before and was set to perform as part of the online event this year.
“In light of allegations against past and present artists on our performance roster, we recognize that forms of sexual assault exist in our society and we take accountability for the role festivals play in this,” Shambhala’s Twitter release reads. “The industry needs to change, we need to change.”
Sunday’s release follows SMF’s Monday announcement that they removed Kenny from their line up.
After careful consideration, Shambhala Music Festival has removed Billy Kenny from the Shambhala at Home Digital Stream Event. We take any allegations of assault, whether it be physical, verbal or sexual, very seriously and we do not condone that behaviour in any way. pic.twitter.com/wOpx34HgzL
— Shambhala Music Festival (@shambhala_mf) July 14, 2020
In response to the allegations, Kenny addressed at least one incident in Edmonton in 2017. Still, other accusations have also been made against the D.J., who has now deleted all his social media.
Through the week social media users called on the festival to take more accountability.
“I want to see Shambhala set an example for this community by taking responsibility for allowing this to happen and I want to see how they plan to do better moving forward Performative allyship is NOT enough,” Facebook user, Sorinda Demeter wrote Tuesday.
This is BULLSHIT. Shambhala Music Festival does NOT take sexual assault allegations "very seriously". I reported …
Demeter criticized the festival’s initial response and claim’s the SMF silenced her from speaking out in the past.
“They have blocked me from being allowed to comment on their posts to tell my story and to let the world know that they allowed Billy Kenny to continue to play at the festival for three years after me and another woman reported him for several acts of harm against women.”
SMF has also paused their social media while they review their harm reduction strategies, adding no further comment.
Important update regarding harm reduction and Shambhala at Home pic.twitter.com/jn6q971Z5j
— Shambhala Music Festival (@shambhala_mf) July 17, 2020
Organizers have also offered apologies to those affected and encourage victims who have not yet reported their assaults to reach out to their victim support network or helpline.
Festival organizers add they will take multiple steps, which included education staff and guests, extensive background checks for artists, and a commitment to a zero-tolerance policy for assault of any kind to reduce “the potential for future harm.”
“We know that these actions won’t reduce the trauma felt by anyone who has experienced sexual violence, but we move forward with the commitment to dismantle rape culture, and we take accountability for the role festivals play in this.”
The festival has grown steadily since 1998 when about 500 people attended. That number has grown to more than 17,000 in recent years.