Council to approve children's performances after monkey costume scandal
Josh Mellor, Local Democracy Reporter
- Credit: Has Ahmed
All children’s performances at Redbridge libraries will be signed off by the council following a controversy over an inappropriate monkey costume earlier this year.
On July 10, an entertainer in a rainbow monkey costume with fake genitals and buttocks performed at an event promoting children’s literacy at Redbridge Central Library.
The performance was stopped when complaints were received, but the incident drew international attention and the ire of residents, councillors and MPs.
Council contractor Vision Redbridge Culture and Leisure, which runs the borough’s libraries, said at the time that the event was an isolated incident that did not represent its values.
The library was also subject to criticism for a comment it posted on social media before the controversy took hold, which read "when you've got it, flaunt it I suppose".
At a full council meeting last Thursday (September 23), council leader Jas Athwal said Vision had provided a “full and thorough investigation of why the series of events took place”.
He also revealed he had contacted the police following the incident to ask whether an offence had occurred but did not reveal whether he received an answer.
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He added: “As a parent, I was simply horrified by the incident and acted immediately. I just wish others reacted like that when they saw what was happening.”
Mandinga Arts, the performance company behind the costume, said it “deeply regrets” the incident and has apologised “profusely” to everyone concerned.
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It wrote: “Although the monkey was well-received at carnival events with a mixed audience, it was entirely unsuitable for a children’s event and should never have been used.”
In the aftermath of the incident, the company announced that the costume had been retired.
At the time of the incident, Redbridge Libraries released a statement of apology.
It read: "Unfortunately one of the animal costumes was inappropriate which we were not aware of at the time of booking.
"Upon receiving complaints passed on by the leader and deputy leader, we ceased the performance and are truly apologetic for the distress caused to residents. This will never happen again."
The Metropolitan Police has been approached to confirm the outcome of the council’s referral.