Brit Awards address lack of diversity
After #BritsSoWhite trended during ceremony, organizers move to overhaul judge panel
LONDON— Britain’s leading pop music prize, the Brit, will shake up its roster of judges next year in an attempt to address a perceived lack of diversity. The move, announced Monday, comes after an outcry that no minority artists won awards this year.
Several black musicians, including Kendrick Lamar and Drake, were nominated in categories reserved for international artists, but popular black British musicians were broadly overlooked.
Though the outcry and Monday’s news centred around the lack of minority representation in the awards, the new roster also addresses the broad underrepresentation of women in the Brits voting constituency. 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.
The roster of 1,200 voters will be 52 per cent male and 17 per cent BAME, a commonly used term in Britain that stands for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic. Last year’s voters, roughly the same total number, were 70 per cent male and15 per cent BAME.
(About 86 per cent of English and Welsh residents call themselves white, though minority populations are much higher in major urban areas.)
In the lead-up to this year’s Brits, whose winners were announced in February, musicians including soul singer Laura Mvula and grime artist Stormzy publicly denounced the awards for the lack of diversity.
The hashtag #BritsSoWhite, a riff on #OscarsSoWhite — which came into popular use when only white actors were nominated for 2016 acting Oscars — started trending on Twitter during the Brit Awards ceremony, which also took place in February.
Several days later, Ged Doherty, chairman of British Phonographic Industry, the trade group that organizes the awards, published an open letter in the Guardian acknowledging that race was an issue that the organization had to tackle. “There was an elephant in the room” during the awards, Doherty wrote. “I can tell you that it was sat firmly on my lap.”
The organization said in a statement that it had appointed a committee of leading black and Asian media and music professionals to help them choose the voters for 2017.
“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,” Doherty said in the statement.
In the lead-up to this year’s Brits, musicians including soul singer Laura Mvula denounced the awards’ lack of diversity.