Meet The Campaigners is a series where campaigners in the music industry tell us what their organisations or campaigns are about, what issues they are trying to change and what they are currently working on. Here the founders of Power Up discuss the initiative’s success and struggles.
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 together and goes beyond solidarity, with new approaches which foster meaningful change.
Launched in January 2021, POWER UP is already delivering on its ambitions, showing that if you give Black talent an opportunity, it thrives, excels, and smashes the glass ceiling. Its participant programme, now on its second annual cohort, has helped individuals to win awards, secure Board appointments, achieve senior roles in companies, and sustainably grow their businesses, whilst overall giving confidence, allowing people to be seen, giving people the tools to succeed and removing barriers to career development and progress.
The movement has provided guidance and direction to companies, with many seeking to understand how their missteps can affect staff, keen to avoid a repeat of hurtful or wrong behaviour.
But it hasn’t been easy. The pioneers behind POWER UP – Joe Frankland, Yaw Owusu, and Ben Wynter – say challenges remain.
Ben Wynter says: “POWER UP was a response to Black Out Tuesday; we witnessed company after company posting black squares and coming out in solidarity of the Black community. We stepped out in boldness to facilitate and drive conversations – mainly uncomfortable ones – and we haven’t always been met with open arms. We are disappointed in the companies that haven’t engaged with us.
“There is a reason we see so many Black entrepreneurs and Black-led start-ups; there’s a lack of opportunity for these individuals to progress. Yet the industry continues to grow while it commercialises Black music and culture – we are asking for equity and equality. Together, we need to look at what’s happening on the ground right now and how we can create systemic change for the long term. It’s our – your – duty.”
Find out more about Power Up here.
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