The BRIT Awards 2016 will go down as a strange and controversial pinpoint in time. The awards show went ahead amidst a raging diversity debate – fuelled by criticisms from Stormzy, Lethal Bizzle, Krept & Konan, Laura Mvula, and more – about how it failed to represent British music properly, with a distinct lack of recognition for black British artists despite it being a huge year for UK rap and grime especially. After months of shrugs and smirks, the Brits finally acknowledged the debate on the eve of the ceremony, and pledged to address the problem going forward.
Yesterday, we saw some of the first baby steps towards doing so. At the time of The BRITs, the Voting Academy came under particular scrutiny, as critics questioned the diversity of the thousand plus members who cast votes on nominees during the awards selection process. True to their word, members of the voting academy received an email yesterday containing a survey which stated: "We are asking all members of the BRITs Voting Academy to complete a short survey so that we are more able to understand its diversity and make-up."
The survey asked straight forward questions about ethnicity, gender, age, and sexuality, stating that: "By completing the survey you will give us valued insight into the current composition of the Voting Academy, which will help us better represent the diverse range of people working in music in future BRIT Awards voting."
It's a positive early step for the ceremony, and with other bigger promises of a restructure and the formation of an advisory committee comprising "respected members of the Black, Asian, and minority ethnic (BAME) music community" in the pipeline, it's going to be exciting to see what the hell the Brit Awards 2017 looks like. For now, all we can do is look back at an award ceremony that was defined more by the artists who weren't there, than those who were.