Unseen Unheard report

In 2021, Black Lives in Music published its ‘Being Black in the UK Music Industry‘ report, based on a survey of artists and industry workers’ experiences.

Now the organisation has teamed up with disabled music charity Attitude is Everything for a new report – ‘Unseen Unheard’ – exploring the additional challenges facing artists and music professionals who are Black and disabled.

The report is based on survey data from 149 people plus new interviews in 2023. Its findings include that 74% of Black disabled musicians felt there were specific barriers to success in the industry because of their race or ethnicity. This compares to 58% of Black non-disabled creators who felt this.

70% of respondents said they have experienced racism or racial bias during their careers; 91% said they felt unsatisfied with how they are supported by the industry; and only 38% felt that diversity and inclusion is a priority for the music business.

As with both organisations’ previous work, ‘Unseen Unheard’ outlines the problems but also offers solutions.

In this case, they include health and mental health support services and industry mentorship schemes recruiting Black disabled people; more consideration of disabled people when planning industry conferences, networking events and showcases; and involving more Black disabled people in conferences and marketing campaigns alike.

The report also calls for employers to ask their Black disabled staff what kind of mentorship they need, and to actively support their career development; and says that those people should be paid for their time “if they are asked to contribute their expertise and lived experience to benefit organisations”.

You can read the full report here, while the two organisations are also launching an ‘Unseen Unheard’ podcast series, hosted by Attitude Is Everything’s Joy Addo.

“In this report, you will read first hand accounts of the lived experience of Black Disabled people who have smashed through every barrier and stereotype to become senior leaders in the music industry,” said Black Lives in Music boss Charisse Beaumont.

“Together with Attitude is Everything, Black Lives in Music are on a mission for Black Disabled music creators and professionals to no longer be unseen and unheard but instead celebrated, uplifted and granted the same opportunities as others.”

Suzanne Bull MBE, founder of Attitude is Everything, said that the report is “a rallying cry to the industry to listen to Black disabled artists and professionals and to respond to their experiences of race and disability-related barriers. And the industry’s response must be to ‘do better’.”

“The report’s sobering findings highlight the many ways in which Black disabled talent is being held back. This needs to urgently change,” added Bull.

“We need to see the ‘diversity’ conversation take place on conference stages, industry forums and boardrooms, not just in the meetings and spaces marked for the ‘diversity discussion’, but as the integral part of all conversations.”

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