Words: Ruth Oval, Eat Up for Starters
People need to be given explicit permission to get on stage. If most of the people on stage look and act and sound like you, then you obtain permission from knowing that it is likely the audience will like you. If no one looks like you, or you grow up hearing things like “I just don’t like the way people who are [insert protected characteristic] sound” then you need someone to say “hey you, we want to hear your sound”. New musicians with protected characteristics need that extra encouragement.
But the benefits go far beyond the individual. More diversity = better sounds. If you have a more diverse group of people to choose from, then you have a wider talent pool. A wider talent pool means you get to choose the best person who makes the particular sound to complete your band!
Diversity also = safer gigs. By promoting diversity and supporting new musicians, it allows a wider variety of people to engage with the scene. Assaults at gigs tend to be from the majority to the minority. If you promote diversity then there is a higher proportion of the minority who can look out for each other and diffuse situations before they happen.
Diversity = safer communities. If you allow a wider variety of experiences and stories on stage, people get to hear perspectives that they might not have otherwise considered. This promotes diversity in their community as well. In a post-Brexit society, we will need to ensure that non-white British perspectives have a louder voice in order to combat racism and xenophobia.
Cynically, diversity even = more money. If you have a wider variety of stories on stage, then you have a bigger pool of people who might be interested in attending your show or buying your record. People enjoy music that resonates with them in some way, and being inclusive creates a net gain for all.
Eat Up for Starters is a programme of events and workshops designed to support people new to playing music and to promote diversity in the Bristol live music scene.
See Stormzy perform ‘Crown’ whilst headlining this year’s Glastonbury Festival: