Part of IMPALA’s diversity and inclusion work, the award aims to “put the spotlight on projects that promote change in the independent sector and inspire others to take action.” It is being launched in May as part of IMPALA’s schedule for European Diversity Month.
The Power Up initiative – which supports Black music creators and industry professionals and executives, as well as addressing anti-Black racism and racial disparities in the music sector – was launched in January 2021, and was co-founded by PRS Foundation and Ben Wynter. It is managed by PRS Foundation in partnership with YouTube Music, Beggars Group, Spotify and the Black Music Coalition.
Speaking about the award, Ben Wynter, co-founder of Power Up, founder of Unstoppable Music, and AIM entrepreneur and outreach manager, commented: “Thank you to the IMPALA Taskforce for honouring Power Up as the first recipients of this award. I’d like to thank members of our steering group, focus groups, participants, partners and Senior Power Up Manager Yaw Owusu, as well as Charisse at Black Lives in Music, Paulette Long, and Danny D for giving me the strength, wisdom, and support to carry on when at times the burden felt too much to bear. I would also like to shine a light on and encourage all of the other organisations and initiatives working to create a fairer and more diverse industry for all across Europe. Their work does not go unnoticed and inspires us all at Power Up.”
This award is a much-needed shot in the arm to encourage all associated with Power Up to keep going, and to keep the conversation around actively combatting anti-Black racism going
Joe Frankland, CEO, PRS Foundation added: “It’s a real honour to be the first recipients of an award which celebrates changemaking initiatives in a way we hope inspires the independent sector to go further to actively combat discrimination. Since launching our programme for Black music creators and industry professionals in the UK, we have received almost 1,000 applications and over £10m in support has been requested. Demand for a fairer and equitable music industry from those hitting glass ceilings and experiencing racial barriers is undeniable. The Power Up participants are creating a powerful network and prove that everyone benefits from this targeted, changemaking approach.”
An official press release stated that the need for a new dedicated award scheme was brought up during the very first meetings of IMPALA’s task force back in 2020, advised by Keith Harris OBE and was one of 12 commitments set out in IMPALA’s Diversity and Inclusion Charter.
Keith Harris OBE, adviser of IMPALA’s Equity Diversity and Inclusion task force said: “I am impressed by the work Power Up has done in past two years and I’m pleased that they are committed to building better long-term support and infra-structure for Black creators and professionals in the music industry.”
The award will be run yearly, with IMPALA members nominating projects, and IMPALA’s equity, diversity and inclusion task force voting the winner.
Eva Karman Reinhold, SOM’s CEO, IMPALA Equity, Diversity and Inclusion task force’s co-chair commented: “This new award is one of our charter’s commitments and I’m really happy we’re launching it. Real change takes time, also in the music industry, and this is not a one-off. We’re still working on equity, diversity and inclusion with IMPALA’s task force and this award will take place yearly. Power Up is a great initiative, and we also take this opportunity to highlight others by launching a new changemakers webpage.”
Helen Smith, IMPALA’s executive chair said “We’re delighted to see Power Up as the first recipient of IMPALA's Changemaker Award. Our new award scheme is the perfect opportunity to highlight the great work they’re doing. We hope this will help our members to get inspired and take action locally. We encourage the music sector in each country to have their own Power Up scheme."
IMPALA also launched a new dedicated webpage to highlight other initiatives that promote equity, diversity and inclusion in the music sector (see here).
Paul Pacifico, AIM’s CEO and IMPALA Equity, Diversity and Inclusion task force’s co-chair added: "Power Up has shown that impactful programmes can start to have significant effects in a short timeframe. It would be amazing to see other initiatives inspired by their approach develop in other European countries and this award is well deserved. It’s great to share best practices and there is much to learn from all of the ones IMPALA is featuring. I’m also very pleased to see Women In CTRL on the list, founded by Nadia Khan, AIM’s Chair.”
In January, Power Up announced the opening of its Year 2 participant programme application process.
The initiative was designed to elevate exciting Black music creators and industry professionals by addressing barriers for those at crucial career stages. It has already transformed the careers of 40 Year 1 participants.
Ben Wynter concluded: “Power Up was created to move the needle on anti-Black behaviour within the music industry and to facilitate better dialogue for those companies who posted black squares, wanted to do better but didn’t know how to, whilst breaking down the unspoken barriers that often exist between their organisations and the Black music community. Despite pushback from some in the industry, the first year proved to be an overwhelming success and we’re proud to bring together partners to bring about much needed change. We want to see more people actively engaging and collaborating with us so Power Up can light their path as they take steps in the right direction towards authentic engagement and understanding of the Black music community and anti-Black racism. The data coming out of Power Up justify what we already knew that a glass ceiling does exist and that equipping underrepresented talent with the tools to dismantle that ceiling works. Awards such as these are always bittersweet, as we would all like to work in an industry where an award like this isn’t needed. The journey has been mentally, emotionally and physically exhausting and this award is a much-needed shot in the arm to encourage all associated with Power Up to keep going, and to keep the conversation around actively combatting anti-Black racism going.”