The UK-based organization Black Lives in Music (BLiM) is using data and advocacy to amplify and empower Black musicians and music creators, in response to the widespread calls for equity for Black musicians. Focused on bringing about increased and sustained representation and participation at all levels, BLiM’s key goals are to:
Be a catalyst for meaningful change and meaningful action towards a genuine diverse community within music.
Provide meaningful opportunities at grassroots level for Black musicians to aspire to be part of the wider talent pool
Support and empower Black artists to realize their ambitions
Advocate for equality for the careers of musicians and the music industry workforce
Although there has been extensive research on the number of leadership roles in UK-based arts organizations occupied by people of color, there is no data on the experiences of Black musicians who work in these environments on a daily basis.
BLiM plans to fill this gap through the distribution of its groundbreaking survey, which will detail the issues Black musicians in music such as racial discrimination, mental health, well-being, and economic disparity.
“We are bringing together all Black musicians and music professionals for this research in order to create change,” says BLiM co-founder and Chief Executive Charisse Beaumont. Beaumont also adds that participation from Black musicians in the survey “will make this data, which currently doesn’t exist, the most powerful data set about Black musicians in the world which will be used to drive positive and lasting change.”
The data from this survey will be available in BLiM’s annual report this summer.
In addition to collecting data, BLiM has also created a 10-step digital charter UK urging music organizations to meet, in order to reflect the breadth of diverse cultures in the UK and combat systemic racism within the music industry. Its task force comprises some of the most esteemed Black executives and musicians in the UK working toward diversity and equality in music: Orphy Robinson MBE, Shabaka Hutchings, Paulette Long OBE, among others. BLiM will also support organizations working toward developing equitable professional ensembles that are inclusive of people of color, recruiting Black people to senior management/board level positions, and programs, and mentoring and support for Black musicians in professional ensembles.
This work will be accomplished with organizations of all types, including orchestras, professional ensembles, universities, conservatoires, festivals, and operas. Current BLiM partners include Spotify, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Help Musicians UK, Arts Council England, Trinity Laban, Leeds Conservatoire, PRS Foundation, The Ivors Academy, Musicians’ Union, Featured Artists’ Coalition, Manchester Jazz Festival, Jazz North, Marsden Jazz Festival, Lichfield Jazz Festival, The Black Music Coalition, London Mozart Players, and National Youth Choirs of Great Britain.
BLiM’s most recent project, a video series titled “A Celebration of Black Music” is currently available on their YouTube channel. Hosted by presenter and broadcaster Zeze Millz, the video series welcomes five different guests to speak about their unique experiences as Black artists in the music industry. To learn more about BLiM and its mission, and to support the cause, visit http://www.blim.org.uk.