The Yorkshire-based jazz festival is working with the new organisation Black Lives in Music to empower and amplify Black musicians’ voices and promote  their ground-breaking research 

March 2021

Black Lives in Music (BLiM) was launched to tackle the racial inequalities in the UK music industry and to help create inclusive and diverse participation and representation within jazz and classical music.

Marsden Jazz Festival is proud to be one of the first music festivals to sign up to this initiative and is working closely with the organisation to widen opportunities for black musicians at their festival, as well as to celebrate the history and achievements of black jazz musicians throughout the UK.

BLiM’s goals include widening opportunities at grassroots levels for emerging Black artists and advocating for equality in the music industry workforce.

Through their survey, which is now open to respondents, BLiM are asking Black musicians and music creators to share their stories and have their voices heard. It will address barriers that limit talent from thriving, including racial discrimination, mental health, well-being, and economic disparity.

With a strong commitment to achieving an equitable festival and wider music industry on all levels, Marsden Jazz Festival didn’t hesitate to partner with Black Lives in Music alongside other arts heavyweights including Help Musicians UK, Jazz North, PRS Foundation, Manchester Jazz Festival, and Leeds Conservatoire.

Marsden Jazz Festival is already signed up to and achieving the Keychange pledge of a 50/50 gender balance in artistic programming, so joining BLiM is the next step in their work to creating a diverse, accessible, and representative festival for all.

Barney Stevenson, Artistic Director for Marsden Jazz Festival said:

“I am very proud that Black Lives in Music invited Marsden Jazz Festival to become a founding partner of their crucial movement. Since 1992, Marsden Jazz Festival has brought a black art form to the heart of a predominantly white, rural community in Marsden in the South Pennines of West Yorkshire.

“But we know that Marsden Jazz Festival has further to go to ensure black representation amongst all of our stakeholders, be they board of trustees, staff, artists, volunteers, and our audience.

“We recognise that we are at a particular moment in history when systematic black underrepresentation in the UK jazz sector can no longer be ignored, and we are proud to be part of the movement to counteract that.”

Currently, no data exists on black musicians and professionals in the UK and BLiM and their partners are here to change that. Through this research, systemic racism within the music industry will be brought to the fore of the conversation and huge, lasting changes can then be made to tackle it. BLiM will be supporting festivals, universities, orchestras, and more to achieve inclusive and diverse senior management/board level, as well as mentoring to enable the progression of Black musicians.

Black musicians and music professionals are urged to fill out the Black Lives in Music survey by visiting: https://blim.org.uk/change

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