Black Lives in Music Campaign launched to address racial inequality in the UK jazz and classical music industry

Kamasi Washington
Kamasi Washington plays the Cheltenham Jazz Festival 2018. BLiM wants more grassroots opportunities for black musicians within the UK's jazz and classical scenes. (Image credit: Steve Thorne/Redferns)

The Black Lives in Music (BLiM) campaign has been launched to tackle racial inequalities in the UK music industry.

Having drafted a 10-step digital charter as a road map for organisations committed to increasing diversity, BLiM is now conducting a survey to gather data on black musicians' experiences within the UK's music industry, which it will use to inform its advocacy. 

BLiM says that black and ethnic minority musicians are particularly under-represented in jazz and classical music, and in leadership roles at the Arts Council England's National Portfolio Organisations – where only 15 per cent of board members were from black and ethnic minority backgrounds. 

Out of 1,345 conservatoire teaching staff, only 28 were from black and ethnic minority backgrounds. BLiM hopes to work with “all agents of the UK music industry to achieve equality for people of colour so they can express themselves in music of all genres and in all areas of this profession.“

Your participation will make this data the most powerful data set about Black musicians in the world which will be used to drive positive and lasting change

Charisse Beaumont, co-founder, BLiM

The campaign will focus on providing grassroots opportunities for black musicians, working with orchestras, professional ensembles, universities, conservatoires, festivals, operas, and trade bodies – offering support and mentorship to musicians.

But what BLiM lacks is data, and data is needed to target its advocacy efforts. BLiM co-founder and chief executive Charisse Beaumont encouraged all black musicians to complete its confidential online survey to give the organisation the data it needs to affect change.

“We are bringing together all Black musicians and music professionals for this research in order to create change,“ she said. “Your participation 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.”

See BLiM for more information. 

Jonathan Horsley

Jonathan Horsley has been writing about guitars and guitar culture since 2005, playing them since 1990, and regularly contributes to MusicRadar, Total Guitar and Guitar World. He uses Jazz III nylon picks, 10s during the week, 9s at the weekend, and shamefully still struggles with rhythm figure one of Van Halen’s Panama.