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Brit bosses take action over diversity

SPEAKING OUT: Grime star Stormzy was among the most vocal critics of the Brit Awards earlier this year

BRIT AWARDS bosses have announced a series of measures to address a lack of diversity that drew strong criticism earlier this year.

The annual awards, organised by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI), has announced a shake-up of its roster of judges for next year’s awards. More than 700 new judges — a mix of record label representatives, members of the press, musicians, and other industry affiliates — have been invited to vote for the 2017 prizes.

More than half (57 per cent) of the invites will go out to new members in a move designed to refresh this year’s voting academy and address the lack of minority participation and the broad under representation of women in the Brits voting constituency.

The move was led by Ged Doherty, chairman of the BPI.

PROUD

He said:

“I’m really proud that we’ve taken firm action to refresh the Academy to ensure that it keeps up with trends in music and society at large. I believe that as a result of these changes, the Brits will be better
equipped to reflect the diverse nature of Britain and British music.

“There has been a long-held myth that Brits winners and nominees are decided by industry executives in a smoke-filled room, but the simple truth is that the awards are voted for each year by a 1,000-plus voting academy made up of experts drawn from all areas of music.”

Earlier this year, the Brits received strong criticism from artists such as Laura Mvula and the grime star
Stormzy, who publicly denounced the awards for their lack of diversity. Skepta, Krept and Konan, Lianne La Havas and Lethal Bizzle added their voices to the criticism.

The hashtag #BritsSoWhite, a play on #OscarsSoWhite — which became popular when only white actors were nominated for 2016 acting Oscars — started trending on Twitter. The reaction to their exclusion prompted part-time music promoter and blogger Anant Naik, from Brixton, south London, to start an online petition on Change.org, calling on the Brit Awards to publish diversity figures.

Speaking to The Voice in February he said:

“As a music fan, I don’t feel the Brit Awards are representing wider Britain. They are not showing how diverse the British music scene actually is. We live in a multicultural country, with so many great artists, but the BRIT Awards seem one-dimensional. They don’t reflect what it means to be British in 2016.”

POSITIVE

He added:

“If we look at what has happened with the Oscars, something positive has come out of it. They have published their diversity figures and they have promised to make some drastic changes to be more inclusive.”

Speaking about the latest moves, Jason Iley, Brits chairman, and chairman and CEO of Sony Music UK & Ireland, said:

“As the most important awards in the British music calendar, we have a responsibility to be truly reflective of what is happening in music so that we can support new and emerging talent, as well as recognise and celebrate mainstream commercial success. To do this, it’s important we have voting academy members who are both knowledgeable and passionate about all types of music and who also reflect the diversity of our consumers and country.”

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