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Black Lives in Music announced as WMG/BFF SJF Grantee Partner

Warner Music Group / Blavatnik Family Foundation Social Justice Fund

Black Lives in Music announced as Warner Music Group/Blavatnik Family Foundation Social Justice Fund grantee partner

NEW YORK, NY – June 13, 2022: The Warner Music Group / Blavatnik Family Foundation Social Justice Fund (WMG/BFF SJF) today announced its first annual Grantee Convening event. From June 16-17, the Fund’s 27 current grantee partners will gather with WMG/BFF SJF Board members to share their work, and to find synergies in their efforts to advance racial justice across the arts, education, and criminal justice reform. 

Participating grantee partners include ARRAY, Bard Prison Initiative, the Anti-Recidivism Coalition, Brazil Human Rights Fund, Girls Make Beats, Highlander Centre, Manos Visibles, A New Way Forward, Gender Amplified, Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI), and Universal Hip Hop Museum, among many others.

Lorelei Williams, Executive Director of the WMG/BFF SJF, said: “Our Grantee Convening will centre the voices of the SJF grantee partners as we dream, grieve, heal, bridge, and build toward a liberated future for all of us. We need to create new paradigms of intersectional movement building to disrupt systemic racism and address anti-Black terrorism. We need new voices at the table. And, if we’re being honest, we need a new table.” 

This year’s inaugural convening includes virtual sessions for grantees, a wellness workshop, and a private reception DJ’ed by grantee partner Girls Make Beats’ DJ Sassy J with a performance by artist and activist Karma Mayet. There will also be three public live streamed events:

The WMG/BFF Social Justice Fund: Our Vision & Strategy

June 16th at 12:00-12:30 pm ET<

This session will focus on the Fund’s grant-making vision and social impact. With over $23M in grant commitments to date, the WMG/BFF SJF has supported an impressive roster of more than 30 extraordinary organisations that power social change through education, criminal justice reform, and arts and culture.

Leveraging Culture to Fuel Criminal Justice Reform

June 16th at 2:00-3:00 pm ET

The WMG/BFF SJF’s grantee partners at the front lines of culture change and criminal justice reform will discuss how social justice organisations can leverage media and entertainment to amplify their message, shift consciousness, and attract unlikely allies, as well as where the movement is headed as creative partnerships like these deepen.

Diaspora Dialogues

June 17th at 12:00-1:00 pm ET

The WMG/BFF SJF’s international grantee partners will explore what a more unified global justice movement would look like, as they highlight dynamic connections across music, art, and culture within the African Diaspora and a common struggle against systemic racism.

The WMG/BFF SJF also announced its fourth set of grantee partners – further advancing its vision of addressing systemic racism and making real change in the lives of historically underserved and marginalised populations. With investments in seven organisations (listed below) totaling $928,844, this slate of grants focuses on building music industry pipelines, by facilitating pathways for youth and young professionals of colour, and advocating for greater racial and gender equity in the music industry.

Of the seven grantee organizations: Project Level, Universal Hip Hop Museum, and Girls Make Beats are training youth in various aspects of the music business – ranging from music production, composition, audio engineering, to finance and marketing; CCCADI and Save The Music are combating the growing trend of music education budget cuts, which disproportionately impacts school districts that serve students of color, immigrant students, and low-income communities; Black Lives in Music and Unlock Her Potential are tackling the under-representation of musicians and professionals of color in the music industry, as well as pay discrepancies and other forms of discrimination.

The Blavatnik Family Foundation is exclusively self-funded by American-British industrialist and philanthropist Len Blavatnik, founder and chairman of Access Industries, a privately held U.S.-based industrial group. Mr. Blavatnik said, “We’re proud to support the extraordinary organisations on the front lines of the fight against racism and injustice and to help further lasting change.” 

Riggs Morales, WMG/BFF SJF Board of Directors member and SVP, Urban A&R at Atlantic Records, said: “Equitable representation in the industry starts with education, mentorship and professional development – in addition to changes in hiring and promotion. By supporting organisations like Girls Make Beats and Project Level that amplify opportunities for young people of colour, we’re setting ourselves up for long-term transformation within music and entertainment that will empower people from marginalised communities as they pursue music industry careers.”

Charisse Beaumont, CEO of Black Lives in Music, said: “Our evidence-based research is important in identifying and addressing the issues Black, Asian and Ethnically Diverse music creators and industry professionals often encounter – and our advocacy is essential for meaningful change to take place. Together, we are at the vanguard in the effort to dismantle systemic racism in the music industry and create a level playing field where Black, Asian and Ethnically Diverse music creators and industry professionals can fulfil their aspirations.”

Of this docket of grantee partners, 86% are helmed by Black, Latinx, or Asian leaders, and 57% have female leadership. Significantly, many of these organisations’ leaders also hail from the physical communities they serve, ensuring that lived experience is embedded into organisation infrastructure and programming.

Each grantee was invited to identify a matching partner to unlock additional funding from the WMG/BFF SJF; matches were provided by Paramount, SoundCloud Community Fund, The Recording Academy, Splice, Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, BeatStars and Silicon Valley Community Foundation, and NY Women’s Foundation, among many others.

Grant Recipients:

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