Updated: Jul 25
The category "Best Initiative to Support Diversity & Inclusion in Music" is presented by the Levitt Foundation.
The Music Cities Awards are presented by Saxony - State of the Arts. This is a global competition designed to acknowledge and reward the most outstanding applications of music for economic, social, environmental and cultural development in cities and places all around the world.
As the announcement of the nominees (on August 3rd) and the awards ceremony (October 18th as part of the Huntsville Music Cities Convention) are getting closer, we're excited to share the amazing and inspiring group of applicants for each of the contest categories.
Scroll down to discover this year's applicants for "Best Initiative to Support Diversity & Inclusion in Music", an inspiring list of organisations and projects from several continents.
A Seat at the Table: A Perspective on Women of Color in the Music Business (U.S.A.): Fresh 'N Sassy Productions is an ecosystem of safe spaces for Women of Color in the Music Business and is comprised of Pub Royalty Queen Podcast, A Seat at the Table Research Study, ENCORE Music Tech Solutions, and JukeJoint Foundation. A Seat at the Table: A Perspective on Women of Color in the Music Business is the 1st data-driven research study on intersectionality in the music industry. Surveying over 200+ respondents across several aspects of their professional careers including Barriers to Entry, Education, Career Development, Family Dynamics, Advocacy, and Mentorship gives a voice to challenges faced at the intersection of racial & gender biases in an effort to drive meaningful change.
Women of Substance Radio Podcast by Profitable Musician LLC (U.S.A.): Profitable Musician LLC is dedicated to helping musicians learn to make money from music, expand their income streams and create a sustainable revenue from their art whether they are a hobby artist or pursuing music part-time or full-time. The mission of Women of Substance is to promote quality music by female artists in all genres. Because there is not enough female representation in the mainstream platforms like radio and SiriusXM, this platform exists to curate the best music by female indie artists. Its goal is for mainstream media to tap into this resource and adopt much of the music on their own platforms.
Diversify the Stage Programs (U.S.A.): The live events, music, and entertainment space are multi-billion dollar industries. When looking at who is employed behind the scenes, there's a lack of representation across women, BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, non-binary, disabled, and all intersecting identities between these groups combined with many barriers of entry. DTS helps remove these barriers and opens doors, creating a strong pipeline of professionals from historically excluded, and or underrepresented groups, and increasing the experience, diversity, and strength of the talent pool within this sector of the industry. The organisation strives to encourage more fair and equitable systems for the benefit of all persons.
EQ (Equaliser) by Auckland City of Music (New Zealand): Auckland City of Music is the music ecosystem development office for New Zealand's largest city. EQ is a global gender equality programme co-founded between 4 UNESCO Cities of Music – Norrköpping, Hanover, Adelaide and Auckland with the aim of addressing the UN's Sustainable Development Goals 2023. The project framework is "open-source" meaning each city that undertakes an EQ project can do so in a way that suits their specific conditions. The goal remain the same – to address gender inequality in the music sector; build capacity and sustainability; create to employment, opportunities and resilient networks of female professionals who can then impart knowledge to their colleagues over the longer term, strengthening the place of women in the creative industries.
Videoclip "Look around you" by Todos Hacemos Música (We all make music) (Argentina): In 2008, the NGO Todos Hacemos Música (THM) was founded with the mission to promote the inclusion of people with disabilities through musical experiences. THM perform in schools, businesses and festivals with their three inclusive bands. For fifteen years, the organisation has been counselling musicians with disabilities, providing music therapy treatments, producing video clips with well-known Argentinian musicians promoting solidarity campaigns, recording albums and organising musical "zapatas" (gatherings in parks and squares to make music and socialise with people). During six years the organisation travelled more than 29,000 km to donate instruments, train teachers, film a documentary, present a book and film the video clip "Look around you".
GSBTB Open Music School (Germany): Give Something Back to Berlin is an award-winning association that connects migrants, refugees, and locals to engage in building an open and inclusive society. It nurtures spaces where new and established Berliners work together to
foster individual and collective creativity. It challenges the way integration is described. It makes worlds meet for a better city. The GSBTB Open Music School (a project of GSBTB) is a completely FREE musical knowledge-sharing community that focuses on the inclusion of new migrants, marginalised people and those seeking a positive social network in Berlin. The OMS creates spaces that are open to anyone, in which participants can develop real relationships that break isolation, cross cultures, encourage self-expression and inspire community engagement. The organisation sees the person for who they are: an individual with endless potential if given equal opportunities.
Sisters of Music (Austria): Sisters of Music is a non-profit network for women living in Austria who work in the live music industry. The more than 200 members consist of female technicians, service providers and other trades in the music industry. The aim is to connect and support women through an online platform, mentoring programs, regular network meetings and other projects. Women are underrepresented in many areas of life and often they do not have equal opportunities. The music industry is still male-dominated and prejudices, especially against women in technology, make it difficult for them to enter the profession or their working life. There are still too few female role models and visibility of women in this industry. This, the organisation has the goal of doing away with clichés and supporting women in their profession and their successes in the best possible way and making them more visible #supportyoursisters.
Handiclapped – Kultur Barrierefrei (Germany): "Inclusion rocks! Music for All." According to this motto the Berlin based charity "Handiclapped – Kultur Barrierefrei" promotes inclusion through live music since 2008. Over 350 concerts organised: Artists with and without disabilities make music together for an equally inclusive audience. The concerts take place early in the evening, in accessible locations and cost little or no admission. They're meeting places where music as a common language and inclusion can be experienced as enrichment for all. And much more: Handiclapped organises music workshops, online meetings for bands and every other year a congress "Live-Music and Inclusion". Additionally, Handiclapped supports two bands directly and promotes music projects from all over Germany on www.pincmusic.net - as well as with a monthly radio show.
Medley Music International by David Z Foundation (U.S.A.): The David Z Foundation is a non-profit organisation started by singer/guitarist Paulie Z in memory of his brother and bandmate bassist David Z. Inclusive of all and serving a diverse population of underprivileged kids, their aim is to instil a passion for music in kids while providing them with engaging music education opportunities and funding, putting together collaborations between kids and veteran music industry professionals and developing programs within
academic school settings as well as music schools, both across the country and internationally.
Come Play With Me (Great Britain): CPWM is a non-profit music development organisation specialising in supporting people from marginalised communities to further careers in music.
Their mission is to fight for an equitable, inclusive and diverse music industry via tailored career development for individuals through events, label, mentoring, podcast & magazine and workshops. The organisation works with musicians, sound engineers, promoters, photographers, writers, event programmers and aims to sustain a more equitable creative industry through various projects, a record label, a bi-monthly magazine and regular podcast, in addition to their flagship annual music conference; I Know A Place, which supports women and people of marginalised genders in the industry.
The F-List for Music (Great Britain): The F-List for Music helps UK female and gender expansive musicians overcome structural barriers and sustain their music careers for longer. A social enterprise with a board of women from across the music industry, dozens of Social Media Ambassadors, and partnerships with esteemed music industry organisations and festivals The F-List is not just a list, it's a growing community. Now with nearly 6,000 musicians featuring up-to-date information on UK-based female and gender expansive musicians, songwriters, and composers from every genre of music allowing them to be easily found and booked for professional opportunities.
Equal Access (U.S.A.): Equal Access is an mtheory initiative designed to empower artists and managers from underrepresented demographics in country music by providing financial resources, training, and networking opportunities. It has partnered with CMT/Paramount to create a financial, networking, and education resource for underrepresented artists and managers in Country music. It addresses not only the lack of diversity in artists, but
also in the very important pipeline of management for these artists. Its first cohort received training, money, and networking opportunities which led to opportunities such as a tour opening slot with Chris Stapleton, a video premiere in Times Square, a major-label signing,
many DSP playlists, an opening slot at the Music Biz awards, and many more.
Encuentro de Mujeres de Música Peruana / Women in Peruvian Music Meeting by Ambiente Criollo (Peru): Ambiente Criollo, a female band of Música Criolla in Peru, formed in 2007 thanks to a group of women who were driven by the desire to play and make Peruvian music. The Women in Peruvian Music Meeting (Encuentro de Mujeres de Música Peruana) started as a concert to gather women composers of the traditional creole music and year by year has grown and showed more that 500 women musicians on the stage. The festival
has given visibility for the new musical projects of many kinds of genres lead by Peruvian women of different cities in Peru. The Women in Peruvian Music Meeting is the only festival in Peru, completely protagonized by women that promotes Peruvian music and women empowerment to young generations. The festival received the Ibermúsicas award in 2019
and the economic incentive of the Peruvian Culture Ministry in 2022.
This is Brampton by City of Brampton (Canada): Performing Arts at the City of Brampton is a municipal entity that owns and operates five beautiful state-of-the-art venues located across the city, The Rose, The Rose Studio, LBP Theatre, Cyril Clark, and Garden Square. Its
seasons consist of programming that focuses on celebrating, promoting, and developing Brampton's cultural identity and creative vibrancy. This is Brampton is a curator- led series that aims to engage local artists from diverse communities and disciplines in hopes of developing local connections to new communities as well as offering exposure of these artists to new audiences. Performances have consisted of Hip Hop, Rap, R&B, Jazz, Rock, Country & Blues, and DJ battles.
Global Music Series by Music NL (Canada): MusicNL’s vision is “music cultivated at home and celebrated everywhere”. It has the objective of leading Newfoundland and Labrador's music community and industry through advocacy, education, connections, programs, services and partnerships. The Global Music Series celebrates the diversity of talent in the local community. This series is part of an initiative led by MusicNL and the Association for New Canadians in partnership with The Rooms to increase representation and recognition for immigrant musicians in their province. It is a free access initiative, accessible to all ages.
Melbourne Rebetiko Jam (Australia): Melbourne Rebetiko Jam is a weekly Jam session geared towards encouraging Greeks and non Greeks to come together to play and learn about Rebetiko- which is Greek music from the 1920's - 1950's. The Sessions are designed to create a safe encouraging space for musicians from all backgrounds and levels to meet once a week in Clifton Hill, and to learn the songs (for free) and supported with materials to take home to study this music. The jam takes place at a restaurant and all are encouraged to turn up and participate. The organiser supports the attendee's with free tuition to enable them to grow and learn about this culture regardless of ability and also to continue and foster this music in Melbourne which traditionally has a strong Greek Community.
Art27 (The Netherlands): art27 is a platform for artists, arts educators and arts organisations working with refugees and asylum seekers in Europe and beyond. In the context of forced migration, art27 connects socially engaged artists and arts organisations, amplifying the role of the arts in the social inclusion of refugees; creates spaces for knowledge sharing through live and online events, panel talks and interviews, enabling the collective growth of the field; and encourages collective action, inviting its members and the broader public to advocate for the social inclusion of refugees and asylum seekers through various initiatives.
Cashless Payments on busk.co (Germany): The Busking Project is the world's largest community of street performers, with over twelve thousand registered buskers in 133 countries. It has created a suite of tools and services for street performers, including a cashless payments service, a booking system, digital music sales (straight to people's phones), an archive of information street performers use in their everyday lives, and we've led multiple efforts to protect their rights in cities all over the world. The Cashless Payments service on busk.co is the only cashless tipping platform with no upfront costs, no monthly subscription, and passes the transaction fees onto the tipper, meaning buskers receiving the smallest tips are not charged the highest percentage commissions.
The Other (Great Britain): The Other is a collaborative music project, composed of musicians from Scotland, plus those from a lived experience of displacement and immigration. Its goal is to explore the music of different cultures by developing musical compositions based on the diverse ethnic backgrounds of the various international communities which have come to call Scotland home. The diversity of their musical and cultural backgrounds, as well as their individual experiences, has contributed to a highly creative process, producing some incredible music. Since its creation in 2019, the initiative has been able to undertake projects such as gathering 4 Iranian musicians to compose and perform 4 new pieces, securing funds for artistic mobility for 7 musicians from Iran, Chile, Brazil and Scotland, who developed and performed 5 compositions at Pianodrome Sessions 2021, Fringe by the Sea in August 2022, then went on to record 6 tracks in January 2023,
Black Music City by WXPN (U.S.A.): WXPN, 88.5 FM, is the non-commercial, member-supported radio service of the University of Pennsylvania, offering handcrafted curation of broadcast and digital programming, events, and local music journalism. WXPN is the premier guide for discovering new and significant artists in rock, blues, roots, and folk. Black Music City is a Philadelphia-focused collaborative grantmaking project between WXPN, the professional, non-commercial radio service of the University of Pennsylvania; WRTI, the non-commercial music radio service of Temple University; and REC Philly, a for-profit creative incubator and agency. Black Music City recognizes and honours the influence of Philadelphia Black music history by awarding grants for new work to Black
creatives working in a range of mediums who are inspired by that rich musical history.
DE/SEMBLE – DON'T PLAY ME (Austria): DE/SEMBLE is a new festival in the off-central districts of Vienna that portrays Jazz and Adventurous music in new ways with an emphasis on instrumentalists of all genders. DE/SEMBLE showcases instruments that are often not associated with jazz and categorised as otherly, and is ambitious to rearrange gender stereotypes in the context of instruments. Thus the festival has a priority of booking e.g. women on bass, drums, trombone and other stereotypically male associated instruments and likewise men on e.g. flute, singing, harp. DE/SEMBLE creates intersections with club
culture to reach new audiences and inspire a diverse target group for Jazz and Adventurous music. The festival is seeking off-mainstream locations to provide more accessible and less intimidating contexts to experience jazz.
PRS Foundation (POWER UP) (Great Britain): POWER UP is an ambitious, long-term initiative which supports Black music creators and industry professionals, as well as addressing anti-Black racism and racial disparities in the music sector. Co-founded by PRS Foundation and Ben Wynter and managed by PRS Foundation in partnership with YouTube Music, Beggars Group, Spotify and the Black Music Coalition, the initiative brings several music industry partners and goes beyond solidarity, with new approaches which foster meaningful change. Through a holistic POWER UP Participant Programme and the POWER UP Movement, it breaks down barriers to create a fairer, more equitable music industry for Black creators and industry professionals while increasing representation in all sectors of the UK music industry.
Voces Que Ven (Peru): "Voces que ven" choir is a choir formed in August 2022 by the educator and musical director Natalia Gutiérrez Guzmán, at the 'Centro de Educación Báscia Especial San Francisco de Asís 09' in Lima, Perú. This choral group is made up of
students from the institution mentioned above, between the ages of 7 and 14, who have visual disabilities. The creation of this choir aims to disseminate musical and choral practice to people with visual disabilities, as well as provide them with a space that serves as a channel for artistic expression. "Voces que ven" is a project that in addition to the musical purposes, it aims to raise awareness in the community about diversity, and as part of it promote the integration of people with visual disabilities.
Sound of Soul Recording Studio and Multimedia Institute by CED Society (India): CED (Children's Educational Development) Society is a multifaceted, non-profit outreach centre supporting disabled and disadvantaged women, located in Dehradun, India. Since its founding in 2000 by Lama Tenzin Choegyal, CED Society has launched a number of initiatives aimed at improving the lives of women and girls. Himalayankids is an orphanage
and education centre focused on improving the lives of disadvantaged girls from villages in the Himalayan border region, primarily the remote Dolpo region of Nepal. PinkPads is a women's health service focused on producing and distributing sanitary pads and women's hygiene packages to women in need throughout Uttarakhand. GIFT (Girls' Institute For
Technology) is an IT and professional training program for women with disabilities with the aim of financial independence. And in 2018, CED Society launched the Sound of Soul Recording Studio and Multimedia Institute, a professional recording studio dedicated to empowering disabled and disadvantaged women through musical and artistic expression.
YCK Laneways Presents (Australia): Centered around York, Clarence, and Kent (YCK) Streets in the north western corridor of the Sydney CBD, the YCK Laneways Association represents Sydney's premier destination for boutique hospitality, nightlife and retail experiences. The Association advocates for businesses who call YCK home by supporting its evolving community with business development and growth programs, applying for government grant and corporate sponsorship opportunities, and organising cultural activities to attract local and new customers to the precinct.
La Musica Latina by Vicky Shell (U.S.A.): Raised in NYC, the melting pot of the world, Vicky Shell was exposed to every possible person in every walk of life. She is a Black-Latin music recording artist and teacher whose focus is to use music to educate people on the rich, multifaceted and global nature of Latinx and Black cultures through music and its many genres and elements. "La Musica Latina" is a music video that aims to showcase the diversity of cultural influences and that make up Latin music, making it an umbrella for many identities that live together.
The Black Music Summit (Spain/Great Britain/Germany): The Black Music Summit (BMS) is a social enterprise dedicated to the progression of black people in the music industry. The goal is to bridge the gap between the talent in the charts versus the lack of representation behind the scenes, in music companies and at executive level. The BMS is a global initiative with a European hub with plans to expand worldwide. The BMS is a mixture of panel discussions, keynotes, workshops as well as showcasing talent with live performances and club nights. It aims for black people to be able to learn, network, collaborate and enjoy themselves at the same time. The goal is to create more equity for black people in the industry and to build a more inclusive and diverse industry while bringing all areas of the industry together and encouraging them to build and grow together.
Keychange (Europe/Canada/U.S.A.): Keychange is a global gender equity initiative that aims to diversify and bring sustainable changes to the music industry. Launched in 2017 with key partners including PRS Foundation (UK), Reeperbahn Festival (Germany), and Musikcentrum Öst (Sweden), and supported by Creative Europe, Keychange has evolved into a global network with partners and staff in 13 countries. Keychange promotes gender equity and inclusivity through an annual talent development program for 74 artists and professionals, providing visibility and support through international festivals, masterclasses and mentoring. The initiative also encourages organisations to sign the Keychange Pledge – committing to balanced representation within five years. And partners share proposals for collective change through the Keychange Manifesto.
A Myna Miracle/Multilingual Children's Workshop, Migration Voices in Poetry and Song/Virtual Participatory Songwriting Workshop and "Tell Your Story" song by Guiding Song (Belgium): Guiding Song invites people to write music from their stories, using a participatory, collaborative method of songwriting called Story-to-Song (STS). "A Myna Miracle" is a multilingual children's program that has been offered in Brussels, Belgium. In its current format, the program includes Dutch, French and English as the main languages in which the story of the myna bird is told. The goal of the program is to welcome the diversity of people and languages within Brussels and to celebrate the enrichment and opportunity that this creates by inviting children to engage with each other through story, participatory art, and song. The "Migration Songs" project had been taking place every Monday afternoon at the Fedasil Arrival Centre in Brussels, Belgium. Each Monday it offered participatory sessions, working with refugees and asylum seekers to write poetry and songs from their migration stories. “Tell Your Story” is a song written with a refugee from the DRC living in South Africa.
The Music Cities Awards Ceremony will take place on October 18th as part of the Huntsville Music Cities Convention. The last Early Bird Price tickets for the event will be available until the end of July. Head here to get yours.
Do you want to keep up to date with everything related to Music Cities Events and Music Cities topics? Then we invite you to also subscribe to our monthly newsletter.
The Levitt Foundation was founded in 1963 by Mortimer Levitt. The foundation believes in the importance of public spaces for building healthy communities. They work to strengthen the social fabric of America by ensuring that everyone has access to free, high-quality entertainment.
We invite you to explore the important and inspiring work being done by the Levitt Foundation. They support creative placemaking projects that transform neglected spaces into vibrant, music-filled community hubs, including outdoor live music venues and bringing artists to different communities, among other initiatives
Whether you are eligible to apply for their funding opportunities or if you can get involved with their work as a volunteer or promoter, we encourage you to learn more about how they are using music to transform communities across the U.S.