Brit Awards will better represent diversity in British music next year, according to chairman Ged Doherty

'We are therefore surveying its makeup, which, I suspect, is largely white and with a bias towards older men'

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The Independent Culture

Two notable award ceremonies have caused controversy this year for the lack of diversity among nominees; the Oscars and the Brits

The former was addressed head on both before and during the event itself, with president of the academy Cheryl Boone Isaacs calling on its membership to be reorganised.

Following suit, Brits chairman Ged Doherty has said in an open letter that the membership of the Brits will change before next year’s event.

“There was an elephant in the room at the O2,” he wrote. “As chairman of the BPI, the music association which organises the awards, I can tell you that it was sat firmly on my lap.

“It was an elephant some might characterise as a lack of diversity among the nominees, but which, for me, was more about the lack of recognition of the emerging music that is a huge part of British youth culture.”

Critics of the awards included Lily Allen and Laura Mvula, both of whom pointed out that not a single black British artist was nominated for an award. The hashtag #BritsSoWhite was prominent on social media before and during the event. 

Talking about Britain’s musical heritage and its reflection in the Brit awards, Doherty continued: “We have been slow to look to ourselves and recognise that the processes behind the awards have somehow become disconnected from this heritage of diversity.

“The awards should, first and foremost, reward the very best and most popular British music, but the playing field for that judgment must also be even. Everyone, regardless of background, should have an equal opportunity to impress.”

He went on to say the makeup of the Brtis membership will change soon: “The transparent Brits voting academy is made up of 1,100 people from across the music industry, but, in truth, it needs to be updated. 

“The basis on which people were invited to join was their music expertise. But while this remains a prerequisite, we recognise this is no longer enough, and that facets of diversity such as age, ethnicity, gender and regionality must also be taken into account if the outcome of the nominations process is to be more closely aligned to social trends. 

“We are therefore surveying its makeup, which, I suspect, is largely white and with a bias towards older men. This does not mean that there is an underlying prejudice at play, but the unintended consequence is that emerging genres of music may not be properly recognised.”

He concluded that “ahead of 2017, the voting academy will, wherever possible, have equal male-female representation and at least 15% BAME participation.”