Saturday 24 March 2018

Brit Awards will address 'lack of recognition' for black and ethnic artists


The Brit Awards will address a "lack of recognition" for black and ethnic minority artists at next year's ceremony, the organisers' chairman has said.

Ged Doherty admitted there was "an elephant in the room" at last month's event, which saw no black and minority ethnic (BAME) artists nominated, and the only non-white nominees selected in the international artist categories.

A protest was staged outside the glitzy ceremony, the hashtag BritsSoWhite gained momentum on social media, and artists including Critics' Choice winner Jack Garratt spoke out.

Mr Doherty, chairman of the British Phonographic Industry (BPI), said: "It was an elephant some might characterise as a lack of diversity among the nominees, but which, for me, was more about the lack of recognition of the emerging music that is a huge part of British youth culture. It's this imbalance that lies at the heart of the criticism directed at the Brits' nominations process."

In a letter to the Guardian, he added the voting academy for the awards, made up of 1,100 people, "needs to be updated" and he suspected a survey of its make-up would find it is "largely white and with a bias towards older men".

"This does not mean that there is an underlying prejudice at play, but the unintended consequence is that emerging genres of music may not be properly recognised," he said.

Those genres include grime, and Mr Doherty recently met rapper Stormzy to discuss why his Top 10 hit Shut Up was not nominated - coming one week after the deadline for this year's shortlist.

The two-time Mobo (Music of Black Origin) Award-winner had hit out at the organisers, telling NME: "You know when you've got that little bit of hope and that little bit of faith and then they didn't."

Mr Doherty said: "I explained that the Brits' organisers are, with the guidance of a new advisory committee that includes members of the BAME music community, exploring initiatives that will enable the event to more effectively celebrate diverse, breaking and established talent."

The voting academy will have at least 15% BAME representation, in line with national trends, and be more diverse in terms of age and region, he added.

The backlash followed a similar outcry about the lack of diversity at this year's Oscars.

Press Association

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