Leeds Conservatoire and Black Lives in Music - One Year On

By Lauren Bickerdike


Leeds Conservatoire was the first confirmed working partner for Black Lives in Music (BLiM), and we have now been working together for over a year.

This vital campaign organisation seeks to address the inequalities facing Black people in achieving careers as artists or professionals in the music industry, through research and advocacy. Black Lives in Music aims to bring together organisations and musicians to work towards the same goal: dismantling structural racism in the industry.

Leeds Conservatoire was first introduced to BLiM through BA (Hons) Music (Jazz) programme leader, Jamil Sheriff who currently sits on the Black Lives in Music Task Force

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Since then, our partnership with BLiM has helped inform and develop important work that the conservatoire is now engaged in. The organisation has consulted with Leeds Conservatoire's Programme Leaders on how to achieve better representation in music repertoire, guest artists, and visiting staff.

In the past year Black Lives in Music has worked with multiple teams across the conservatoire on topics ranging from improving inclusivity in our staff and student recruitment approaches to diversity awareness training.

Roger Wilson, Director of Operations at BLiM, expressed his thoughts on the partnership:

"It’s been great to work with Leeds Conservatoire as part of their EDI change programme. Black Lives in Music are proud to say that Leeds Conservatoire were our very first confirmed working partner. Our work together has helped to inform the important work that the conservatoire is now engaged in. The EDI Change team completed an impressive report that our work feeds into. The offer of pastoral support for students of colour through safe space sessions, reviewing student and staff recruitment procedures, review of curriculum and decolonising of spaces are all headline activities, but there has been so much more going on.

The inclusive practice work of all conservatoires is crucial to better representation and culture change in the wider ecology of the sector. We have been pleased to have been brought into a number of conversations with likeminded arts organisations courtesy of Leeds Conservatoire.

We must be realistic about change-making; discrimination and prejudice have been an issue for hundreds of years. Reprogramming and changing how we think and act takes time. I'm heartened by the huge amount of work undertaken by the conservatoire to lead on change and look forward to a rich and fruitful collaboration between our organisations."

Learn more about Black Lives in Music in their video series:

Download Black Lives in Music's 'Being Black in the Music Industry' report.

Find out more about Black Lives in Music.

Follow Black Lives in Music on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

By Lauren Bickerdike

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