brit awards diversify voting membership after #britssowhite campaign
Over 700 music industry figures have been invited to join the Academy, making the 2017 invite list 52% male, 48% female, and with 17% BAME representation.
The organisers of The Brit Awards have announced that they have invited a more diverse list of new voting members to the Academy for the 2017 awards that in previous years. Usually, the list of new invitees would come in at around 300 people, but for the 2017 awards they have invited a total of 718 new members in a bid to improve the diversity of the voting membership. The new invitees account for 57% of the total Academy membership, bringing the gender split to 52% male and 48% female (it was 70/30 in 2016), with 17% of members being BAME (Black and Minority Ethnic), up from 15% in 2016.
The 2016 Brit Awards were widely criticised by musicians, industry professionals and fans on social media, using the hashtag #BritsSoWhite to highlight the lack of diversity in the nominations: no black artists were nominated in any of the main UK categories, despite Grime staking a long overdue claim to the UK Top 40 Charts.
Laura Mvula boycotted the event, telling the BBC's Andrew Marr, "I guess the problem for me is knowing that there are young black kids growing up feeling that they're not acknowledged in society, in media and in mainstream music," adding, "Maybe next year when I have my album out it makes sense for me to be there". Kano created his own '#HoodBRITs' on Instagram, and Stormzy responded with One Take Freestyle, saying, "None of my Gs nominated for Brits / Are you taking the piss? / Embarrassing / Last year they told the mandem that to be nominated you've gotta go on UK charts / So what do we do? We chart / Don't come here with your lies / Don't start."
BPI Chairman Ged Doherty himself conceded in a Guardian article a week after the 2016 ceremony that diversity was "not adequately reflected at this year's Brits," acknowledging that the Academy membership was "largely white, with a bias towards older men". Noting that he had met with Stormzy to discuss the issue, he also committed to the review of Academy membership that has been confirmed today with the new invite list.
Today, Doherty has issued a statement about the changes, saying, "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".
Brits Chairman (and Chairman and CEO of Sony Music UK and Ireland) Jason Illy adds, "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".
Text Charlotte Gush
Photography Oliver Hadlee Pearch
Styling Max Clark