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Vodafone to pull sponsorship from Rhythm & Vines stage

Vodafone will pull all sponsorship material from the stage when Rhythm & Vines headline act Dizzee Rascal performs this week.

Festival organisers sparked outrage over the decision to include the UK rapper after he was convicted of domestic violence earlier this year.

Vodafone said it “abhors domestic violence” and is extremely disappointed with the decision to select Dizzee Rascal, whose real name is Dylan Kwabena Mills, as the headline act.

“We have expressed this concern at the highest levels with promoters Live Nation, meeting with its leadership to understand the process failures that allowed his inclusion in the festival, and to request stronger controls be put in place to ensure perpetrators of domestic violence are not given a platform in the future,” the telco giant said in a statement.

“Additionally, we’ve made the decision to remove our branding from the stage for the duration of his performance.

“We remain supportive of Rhythm and Vines and will continue our sponsorship of the many great musicians and acts that are appearing. We know our customers love live music and we’re committed to supporting the industry and local artists who have done it tough these past few years with COVID lockdowns.

“We’re also working with the Rhythm and Vines team and helping them to ensure safe spaces for women and are supporting this vital work both inside and outside of the event itself.”

Mills was given a 12-month restraining order and a curfew earlier this year for assaulting his ex-partner.

Earlier this month, R&V said in a statement it didn’t “condone violence of any kind and we have a responsibility to ensure our artists, fans and our crew feel safe and supported”.

“We want to highlight the positive work by organisations in our communities to educate people on the importance of safe and healthy relationships, and we will take steps to work with them on how we can better educate our music community and support the important work they do,” the festival’s organisers said in response to the backlash over naming Dizzee Rascal as the headline act.

“Rhythm & Vines respects the justice process in the United Kingdom and the artist is following the process required by Immigration New Zealand for any artists entering the country,” the statement said. NewsHub

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