Festival audiences have been told a controversial act was not offensive or ‘blackface’.
Festival audiences have been told a controversial act was not offensive or ‘blackface’.

Festival management defends act after ‘blackface’ claims

PERFORMERS part of a Nightcliff Seabreeze Festival act which allegedly offended a number of audience members have moved to reassure the public it was not a 'blackface' act.

In a statement from the creators of Barry Brown and the GetDown posted on the festival's Facebook page, the performers said the character of Barry Brown in their act wore no make-up apart from mascara on his moustache to cover emerging grey hairs, and he was not a caricature of an African American musician and was never intended to be.

"It has come to our attention that some people may believe that Barry Brown and the GetDown is a 'blackface' act and find aspects of the show offensive," the statement read.

"Barry has curly reddish brown hair that he wears in 'afro' style popular in the 70s for people from all walks of life.

"He has a generic Louisiana accent from living 30 years in New Orleans.

"The band parodies 1970s attitudes and lyrics and the naive characters that perpetuated them."

The statement said it was not the group's intent for the act to be racist, sexist or disrespectful.

"The band has people of colour and various gendered members, none of whom have taken offence," it read.

"We just love the funk and love to see people having fun and dancing."

In the same Facebook post as the act's statement, Nightcliff Seabreeze Festival management defended the show and said it has a place at the festival, but asked the question of the public whether it was "time Barry hung up his flares" or if the act was a "great celebration of the 70s".

"The Nightcliff Arts Music & Culture Committee apologises for any hurt caused by programming the musical act Barry Brown and the GetDown," the post read.

"The Festival Shaping Working Group has reviewed the show and believe the act has artistic merit."

Barry Brown and the GetDown has been a regular fixture of the Nightcliff Seabreeze Festival for more than 10 years.

The festival is on today and tomorrow.




Originally published as Festival management, performers defend act after 'blackface' claims