The CEO of UK indies body AIM, Paul Pacifico, announced in August that he’d be stepping down at the end of 2022. Now we know where he’s going next.
The Ministry of Culture for Saudi Arabia announced yesterday that Pacifico will be CEO of the Saudi Music Commission, which was launched in 2020. It’s fair to say that the appointment is sparking some debate.
Saudi Arabia’s record on human rights has long been criticised: here’s Amnesty International’s primer on issues including torture; executions; restrictions on protest and freedom of expression; discrimination against women and religious minorities; and deportation of migrant workers for example.
The impact of the 2018 murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi continues to reverberate in international circles, while Human Rights Watch has criticised the Kingdom for spending “billions of dollars hosting major entertainment, cultural, and sporting events as a deliberate strategy to deflect from the country’s image as a pervasive human rights violator”.
Public entertainment events were banned in Saudi Arabia until 2016, and the Saudi Music Commission (along with the MDLBEAST festival and conference) have been part of the Kingdom’s music efforts since.
Pacifico joined AIM as its CEO in 2016, following leadership roles at the Featured Artists Coalition (FAC) and before that the International Artist Organisation (IAO).
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