‘Inappropriate’ monkey costume retired by company after library controversy
- Credit: Has Ahmed
The performance company behind an “inappropriate” animal costume worn at an event to promote children’s reading has "retired" the costume.
Mandinga Arts has apologised in a statement on its website and announced that the monkey costume, which featured mock genitalia, would be retired.
It was contracted to perform as part of the family event at Redbridge Central Library on Saturday, July 10 – but their monkey character sparked angry complaints from residents and criticism from councillors and MPs.
The performance was stopped when the complaints were received and a full investigation has now been launched.
The company said in a statement: “Mandinga Arts offer an unreserved apology for the offence caused to residents, library employees, Redbridge Council and Redbridge Vision Culture and Leisure.
“Over nineteen years we have positively collaborated with local residents and public bodies to deliver colourful and celebratory characters and in this case, we undoubtedly got it wrong.
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“Our lack of judgement in the choice of costume is one we deeply regret, having profoundly undermined our relationship with partners and the public.
“We apologise profusely to everyone concerned and are horrified at the repercussions it has had on partners.
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“In the future, we will hold ourselves to a higher standard when determining the suitability of a costume.
“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.
“The monkey costume has also been retired.”
Mandinga said that it regretted "the wave of online abuse and sexual misconduct allegations" being made against their performers and asked that people address their concerns to the company, "not individual performers or library staff who have done nothing wrong".
They added that they were reviewing their processes to ensure a similar “error of judgement” did not happen again.
Redbridge Council, along with Vision RCL, who run the library, have both apologised for the incident.
Leader of Redbridge Council Jas Athwal said: "We share the view that the event was entirely inappropriate and deeply offensive.
“I have ordered a full and thorough investigation into how external contractor, Vision, commissioned the performers, oversaw the event and operated their social media on Saturday."
Vision RCL said the event does not reflect its values and was an isolated incident.
It is carrying out its own investigation, a spokesperson added.