Organisations collaborate to amplify voices of Black disabled creators and professionals in music

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Charity Attitude is Everything and Black Lives in Music (BLIM) have revealed their first major collaboration, the ‘Unseen Unheard’ report and podcast. 

The disability-led and Black-led charities have joined forces to amplify the voices of Black disabled creators and professionals working across the UK’s music industry.

Based on survey findings taken from BLIM’s October 2021 report ‘Being Black in the UK Music Industry’, ‘Unseen Unheard’ presents a range of responses and insights from 99 music creators and 50 industry professionals. The results are accompanied by new interviews carried out by BLIM in 2023.

The report also includes a number of calls to talent development organisations, funders, industry support services, education providers and industry employers to aid better representation.

Some of the key findings include 74% of Black disabled music creators facing barriers to success in the industry, compared to 58% of Black non-disabled creators. Only 38% of the 149 respondents felt that diversity and inclusion was an industry priority, and 91% of Black disabled creators and professionals said they felt unsatisfied with how they were supported by the music industry.

The two organisations have also launched a new ‘Unseen Unheard’ podcast series, which will be hosted by Attitude is Everything’s Joy Addo and broadcast through the BLIM YouTube channel.

“The Unseen, Unheard report is another first of its kind report which will aid in reframing the music industry,” said Charisse Beaumont, chief executive of Black Lives in Music.

“The report highlights the intersectional barriers Black Disabled music creators and professionals face daily and what we as members of the music ecosystem can do to address these barriers. The landscape feels like it is changing in some ways. We have seen a reversal by organisations and the government of the commitments they made in 2020. However, what is encouraging is that we are seeing bold individuals and organisations who are resolute in demonstrating to the world that inclusion and authenticity is the New Normal.”

Beaumont added: “In this report, you will read first hand accounts of the lived experience of Black disabled people who have smashed through every barrier and stereotype to become senior leaders in the music industry. Together with Attitude is Everything, Black Lives in Music are on a mission for Black disabled music creators and professionals to no longer be unseen and unheard but instead celebrated, uplifted and granted the same opportunities as others. Eradicating discrimination and creating platforms and pathways to showcase their talent and skills so they can thrive and have the careers they truly deserve. Let’s work together to create the truly inclusive music industry we all long for.”

Suzanne Bull MBE, founder of Attitude is Everything, said: “The Unseen Unheard report and podcast series marks the first major intervention generated by our partnership with Black Lives in Music. It’s a rallying cry to the industry to listen to Black disabled artists and professionals and to respond to their experiences of race and disability-related barriers. And the industry’s response must only be to ‘do better’.

“The report’s sobering findings highlight the many ways in which Black disabled talent is being held back. This needs to urgently change. We need to see the ‘diversity’ conversation take place on conference stages, industry forums and boardrooms, not just in the meetings and spaces marked for the ‘diversity discussion’, but as the integral part of all conversations. This is the way that Black disabled people will be enabled to speak truth to power, showcase their skills and talent, and pursue ambitions free of the barriers which are artificially created for the benefit of no one within the industry.”