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Top agents call for action on diversity

Top agents called for a more diverse, inclusive and equitable industry during last week’s ESNS (Eurosonic Noorderslag).

Hannah Shogbola (UTA), Natasha Gregory (Mother Artists), Sally Dunstone (Primary Talent International) and Whitney Boateng (WME) came together for the all-female Agents Panel – hailed as “a long-overdue milestone” by moderator Maria May (CAA).

“We are representing the change we want to see,” said May during her opening gambit for the digital session. “I believe the music industry has a duty to continue to strive forward post-pandemic be even more progressive, more inclusive, and representative of the world that we live in.”

However, WME’s Boateng says there’s a “lot more work that needs to be done in the industry”. “It is still predominantly old white male and it has been for years,” she added. “Change has to come from the top-down and it has to be more than black squares.”

UTA’s Shogbola agreed: “If you are looking around your office and it does not reflect the society that you live in and the roster that you look after, then there is something categorically wrong.”

Black squares were posted on social media as part of the music industry’s Blackout Tuesday movement, a protest against racism and police brutality in response to the killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor.

“As a black woman within this industry, it’s frustrating that even 15-20 years into my career, it takes the death of somebody like George Floyd for our industry to finally open its eyes,” said Shogbola.

“The industry has a duty to be even more progressive, more inclusive, and representative of the world that we live in”

Boateng pointed out that it’s not just racial inequalities that the industry needs to fix but also disparities around sexuality and gender, with the panel unanimously agreeing that diversity on line-ups is still “not good enough”.

“It’s so important that when anybody is going to a show, they feel like it’s a safe and inclusive space for them,” said Dunstone.

Elsewhere during the panel, Mother Artists’ Gregory says that flexibility towards employees’ work hours will also be a key feature in a more equitable post-pandemic industry.

“Working 9–5 is not equality because everybody has a different situation, a different experience and different needs,” argued Gregory. “Being an agent is not a 9–5 anyway so just put trust in your team – working hard is a given in this industry.”

Dunstone agreed: “Adaptability and flexibility are massive takeaways from the last two years. Hopefully, we’ll pick and choose the bits of [pandemic life] that worked for us.”

The 36th edition of ESNS took place under the banner ‘Building Back Better, Together’ and focussed on getting the industry back on its feet after two years of the pandemic.

The hybrid conference and festival wrapped on Friday (21 January) and Dago Houben, director of ESNS said that “despite the fact that there is definitely screen fatigue, we were able to perform our platform function for the national and international music industry.

 


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ASM launches corporate social responsibility platform

ASM Global is launching a new corporate social responsibility platform called ASM Global Acts, which it says is aligned with many of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

According to the live entertainment giant, the platform is centred on three commitments: protect the environment, invest in people and strengthen communities around the globe.

The company will establish annual targets that measure impact and progress to achieving the commitments.

Today also marks the launch of the ASM Global Acts Foundation to support philanthropic and community-based endeavours guided by its sustainability and diversity pillars.

“Our ASM Global Acts initiative is inspired by this idea of making a meaningful difference in our communities and beyond”

In addition, the ASM Global Acts Scholarship will focus on serving diverse and under-resourced communities with educational and career development opportunities.

The initiative will immediately launch at ASM’s Pennsylvania Convention Center, Chicago’s McCormick Place, California’s Long Beach Convention and Entertainment Center, Ontario Convention Center and Toyota Arena.

The company says there are plans to roll it out in other venues in 2022.

“Whether you are a performer on our stages, a technician, hospitality team member or visitor to our venue, we all have the ability to work together and harness our collective action to make the world a better place,” says Ron Bension, president of ASM Global.

“Our ASM Global Acts initiative is inspired by this idea of action and brings to life our dedication to making a meaningful difference in our communities and beyond.”

 


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