UK Music's Diversity Taskforce chair Ammo Talwar calls for 'positive change'

UK Music's Diversity Taskforce chair Ammo Talwar calls for 'positive change'

In his first big statement in the Diversity Taskforce chair role since taking over from Keith Harris, Ammo Talwar has highlighted the key areas for action by the music industry.

UK Music will launch a major survey of the music business next month to get a full picture of diversity and inclusion across various sectors.

“It is a big part of helping bring about the change we all want to see,” said Talwar.

Six months on from his appointment, Talwar has called on the industry to ensure that diversity is a key component of the planning for the post-Covid-19 recovery.

“The issue of diversity has been a box-ticking exercise for too many people for too long,” he said. “As we all consider how society and the workplace will change as we emerge from the coronavirus lockdown, it is vital that the issue of diversity and inclusion is part of that discussion.”

UK Music has warned of the economic impact on the live sector

“Our grassroots music venues face closure, with over 1,000 UK gigs cancelled in the first two weeks of May alone,” said Talwar. “More importantly, we have lost loved ones. You might wonder if this is the time to worry about diversity.

“I believe our individual and collective responses to Covid-19 have the potential to act as agents of positive change in the UK music business.”

Talwar noted the efforts by the industry to “cushion the immediate crushing blow of the lockdown”, including emergency investment and support from PRS For Music, AIM, Musicians' Union, PPL, BPI, Spotify, Live Nation, Help Musicians, Music Venue Trust and more to help the most vulnerable. 

Our individual and collective responses to Covid-19 have the potential to act as agents of positive change in the UK music business

Ammo Talwar

Talwar noted the progess that has been made, including the reform of the BRITs Voting Academy and PRS Foundation’s Keychange scheme.

“Positive change can happen and is happening,” he said. “As its new chair, I want to see our taskforce working to promote diversity and foster the business resilience, good governance and problem-solving that inclusion can deliver.”

The Diversity Taskforce will focus on five key areas:

- Produce a biennial report on progress and the impact of diversity in the music industry.

- Develop an evidence-based approach to reporting on diversity initiatives, leveraging learning through new partnerships around data. 

- Create dialogue regularly with music business stakeholders to spotlight best practice and industry leadership.

- Open up the Diversity Taskforce to fresh voices and perspectives, becoming less London-centric and widening our impact.

- Dismantle ‘glass ceilings’, especially at senior management and board levels, to retain the best leaders in the industry. 

Talwar is CEO of Punch, a music agency based in Birmingham that develops tours, works with artists and produces a city-wide festival.

“I became the chair of UK Music’s Diversity Taskforce because I wanted to make real change, challenge the glass ceiling, share good practice and ensure the music industry reflects the society we live in - modern, collaborative and diverse,” he said. “The vision of the UK Music Diversity Taskforce is clear. We exist to improve equality of access and retention across the music industry workforce, with a sharp focus on gender and race. 

“Of course, true diversity means much more than that and we are obviously a massive home for all the protected characteristics. There are many key issues that we need to tackle to help achieve a more diverse and inclusive industry. Gender pay gaps, shared parental leave for the self-employed and more inclusive representation across all levels of the industry are all problems we need to tackle.”

The full statement by Talwar is on the UK Music website.

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