Our commitments following Black Lives Matter movement conversations
Following Black Out Tuesday, we want to share our commitments and why the Sustaining Creativity Fund is our first immediate action.
PRS Foundation and the team is proud to stand in solidarity with Black communities against racism, bigotry and prejudice.
#TheShowMustBePaused on Black Out Tuesday highlighted to every organisation and every individual that so much needs to be done.
Since then PRS Foundation has spent time as a team, with Trustees and partners and colleagues in the Black music community, reflecting and recognising that we must do better, committing to tangible structural, operational and personal actions which ensure we will go further than standing in solidarity, practicing and championing anti-racism to truly play our part in bringing down barriers, standing up against injustice and racism and supporting the Black music community.
We feel it is important to be open and honest about our actions and commitments for the future so we can be held accountable. We know that sometimes we will get it wrong and it is important to be called out so that we can have frank and honest conversations and get it right so that we are true to our mission:
We invest in the future of new music and support talent development across the UK, enabling music creators to realise their potential.
We believe that all talented music creators should be able to create innovative and exceptional music, develop sustainable careers and reach audiences internationally.
To do this we are committing to:
- Making meaningful changes to PRS Foundation programmes and the way the organisation is run.
- We believe that the success of the music we fund is driven by the diversity of the people who create it. Our commitment to representation and inclusion enables the creation and performance of exceptional new music which has a lasting legacy and shapes the future of music.
- Our team and Board commit to developing a deeper understanding of systemic racism, and as individuals we will challenge everyday prejudice and will shout louder to reject racism and injustice.
- We will play a crucial role in driving major changes within the music sector and music industry to break down the barriers facing Black music creators and industry professionals.
- We will reach, champion and offer transformative platforms to a broad range of music creator and organisation grantees, promoting exciting, pioneering and diverse talent in all genres, across the UK and beyond.
- We will implement targeted action and sustained approaches across all programmes.
- We will amplify the voices of the creators our funding supports.
- We commit to improving and sustaining diversity and inclusivity within the PRS Foundation team and Board.
These commitments will be on our website permanently.
These commitments complement our strategic priorities and we have set tangible actions and short and long-term targets relating to PRS Foundation’s programmes, workforce development, communications and outreach work. We will be engaging in continued conversations within our networks and across the music sector and welcome your comments and feedback to our Chief Executive.
We will build on our track record of inclusivity, equality and diversity, and our track-record for positive change means we are well placed to make a real difference.
In 2019, 18% of our music creator grantees were Black (and 32.6% of music creator grantees were people of colour). 56% of music creator grantees were women, mixed gender groups or gender minorities (and 19.5% of women grantees were Black).
We stopped using the term “Urban” in 2018 and going forward we will no longer use the label BAME, instead developing a deeper understanding of barriers and clearer reporting of demand and support for different ethnic groups.
We recognise that ethnicity is personal to individuals through connections to common heritage, languages, cultures and/or ideologies stressing a common ancestry1 so we are defining Black music creators as people who would describe themselves as Black or have Black heritage.
Within our application form we will firstly ask:
‘Do you describe yourself as Black or do you have Black heritage?’
And then we will ask applicants:
‘Which of the following best describes your ethnicity?’…with applicants given options based on UK government standard ethnicity categories:
- Black/Black British – African
- Black/Black British – Caribbean
- Black/Black British – Other (please specify)
- Mixed – Black Caribbean and White
- Mixed – Black African and White
- Mixed – Black and Other (please specify)
1The Institute of Race Relations defines “ethnicity/ethnic group” as a group of people whose members identify with each other through a common heritage, often consisting of a common language, common culture (which can include a religion) and or an ideology which stresses a common ancestry. It is the way that most countries and peoples choose to delineate groups and has superseded the biological idea of ‘race’.
We will also implement learnings from our gender equality work with Women Make Music and Keychange that have influenced gender balance across all of the organisation’s systems, processes and programmes, the team’s personal actions and has brought the issue to the mainstream, plus learnings from our targeted Sustaining Creativity Fund for Black music creators.
We are developing a large-scale programme to power up Black music creators and Black industry professionals which will be announced this year (2020) with the support of our major donor, PRS for Music and music industry organisations and individuals that want to get involved. Beggars Group (home to the record labels 4AD, Matador, Rough Trade, XL and Young Turks) are already raising money to kick start the programme: https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/beggars-ceo-swims-english-channel.
Our first immediate action is to focus the third round of our Sustaining Creativity Fund to support Black music creators affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
This fund is designed for music creators experiencing hardship from loss of work due to the COVID-19 pandemic, helping exciting talent to do what they do best and using a new model to support music making, however that looks.
This targeted deadline recognises the Black music community is disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, that the economic impact of the pandemic will hit minorities hardest, and that outstanding Black talent has been less able to access hardship funding over recent months.
UK-based Black music creators working in any genre and at any career level whose music careers have been impacted by COVID-19 can apply to our open call. And for this deadline, PRS Foundation is partnering with six dynamic Black-led music organisations:
- GIRLS I RATE
- Jazz re:freshed
- MOBO Trust
- No Signal
- Saffron Records
- Tomorrow’s Warriors
These organisations are on the front line of talent development in the UK and we will be ringfencing a number of grants for music creators who have been through their programmes (or in the case of No Signal found out about the fund through their platforms). Their expertise and extensive networks will ensure our support can reach Black music creators who will benefit from this vital support at this unprecedented time.
We are taking this action because we recognise that Black creatives experience many barriers to progression including:
- Structural and systemic racism, everyday prejudice and injustice in the industry and within music spaces
- Underrepresentation on-stage, in studios, in the media and in every sub-sector of the music industry
- Marginalisation within the music industry, and a lack of visibility on and off stage
- Inequitable financial benefit – with historic exploitation of Black music, the Black community received a disproportionate share of the financial rewards of Black music’s success
The economic impact of COVID-19 and the decimation of music income since the lockdown began means underrepresented music creators and industry professionals are likely to face a greater struggle to recovery and thrive in the future.
The pandemic has shed light on systemic financial inequalities too, with Black and ethnic minority workers more likely in lower paid roles, furloughed or laid off by companies, and exacerbating music creator income disparity.
As a funder we recognise that across the charitable sector there is historic underrepresentation through traditional funding and a lack of change over the last decades and increased COVID-related pressures have made this even more stark.
Accessibility and visibility are issues for many funding schemes and underrepresented creatives are often less able to apply to fast-turnaround open calls.
In our first two rounds of the Sustaining Creativity Fund, demand from Black applicants has been very positive compared to UK population stats. However, compared to PRS Foundation’s other music creator programmes, there was lower demand from Black creators, and notably, a 5% difference in the proportion of grants pledged – with 13% of grants going to Black creators compared to our 18% average.
We want to address this.
Other impacts we have considered
While the momentum behind the Black Lives Matter movement and responses to Black Out Tuesday mean that positive change is on the horizon, we must also consider that the devasting combination of COVID-19 and conversations around much more impactful racial injustice has resulted in:
- high levels of emotional vulnerability
- mental health and wellbeing pressures within the Black music community
- financial instability
The success of the music we fund is driven by the diversity of the people who create it. We are proud of our track record for supporting exciting, diverse talent and the amazing Black creators we have funded already through the Sustaining Creativity Fund already and through other programmes prove that Black music creators are resilient, resourceful and creatively excellent. This is why we’re proud to announce this focussed deadline to support, champion and celebrate Black talent and innovation.
Alongside this immediate funding action we are developing an ambitious, long-term programme which will result in positive change industry-wide. We will announce details as soon as we can.
We welcome any input, discussion and collaboration ideas to ensure we are getting our support to everyone that needs it. We know there is more to do and we are ready to face the challenges.
The PRS Foundation Team