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MU Celebrates Black History Month 2023 With Intercultural Youth Scotland Partnership

This October is Black History Month and the MU is partnering with Scottish charity Intercultural Youth Scotland to bring you guest blogs, a special curated playlist of Scottish Black Artists, new report findings from The Musicians’ Census 2023 and more.

Published: 02 October 2023 | 9:00 PM Updated: 13 October 2023 | 11:15 AM
Young Black musician using a mixing board in a studio.
We plan to publish the next Musicians’ Census Insight Report on the experiences of Global Majority musicians at the end of October. Image credit: Shutterstock.

Intercultural Youth Scotland (IYS) is Scotland’s leading charity for young Black and young people of colour (BPoC) in Scotland, delivering programs to protect the human rights of (BPoC) young Scots.

IYS’ support is rooted in an anti-racist, lived experience-led and person-centred approach. IYS Improves representation and participation of disengaged young BPoC Scots by bridging the gap in youth services, wider BPoC communities and politics; supporting young BPoC Scots to have pride, understand and stand up for their rights, challenge inequality, racism and discrimination.

They work across Youth Work, Education, Employability and Mental health to provide direct specialist support, social justice and vital pathways with a focus on nurturing the interests and talent of young BPoC. They have an in-house music studio, the home of Block Beats, a service offering free studio time to young artists.

Soundtracking your Black History Month

During October IYS will be launching a Black History playlist, curated via their wide networks and through a public call out of Scottish Black Artists. It will feature classics like Young Fathers, rising stars like Bemz and some new faces like Grace and the Flat Boys.

We’ll also be publishing two guest blogs: one from MU Equality, Diversity and Inclusion committee member Tracey Bowen about the importance of being involved in the union, and the other from one of IYS’s young members.

We’ll be sharing this content and links to the playlist over the coming weeks, so keep an eye on our news page and make sure you’re subscribed to receive MU newsletters.

The value of working together

As the MU looks to work more in the regions and nations of the UK and move away from a London-centric approach, partnerships like this one are key. They challenge the narrative that there aren’t many Black or Global Majority artists in Scotland and other parts of the UK.

Furthermore, organisations and initiatives like IYS are key to nurturing young artists at a grassroots level, giving them the space to develop their creative voice, learn their way around the studio, and get performance experience.

Dr Diljeet Bhachu, the MU’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Officer said: “As a union, this speaks to our need to look beyond our existing membership and build relationships with prospective members, thinking about who is not already a member and why this might be".

Intercultural Youth Scotland said: “We are so excited to be partnering with the Musicians Union for Black History Month. We know firsthand the power of music as a tool for connecting people and improving young lives, and always look forward to opportunities to collaborate with organisations that share this passion.

“We are also excited to showcase some of the wonderful Black musicians from around Scotland, whether they are artists that have developed through our free studio program, played at our annual festival, keen supporters of IYS or just made their own waves.

“We hope our partnership with the Musicians union can lead to many fruitful opportunities for more Scottish Musicians in the future”.

Black History Month Magazine

This year the MU is supporting Black History Month's theme of Saluting Our Sisters. This year’s theme highlights the crucial role that black women have played in shaping history, inspiring change, and building communities.

Black History Month Magazine is the national magazine and central point of focus for the nationwide celebration of Black History, Arts and Culture throughout the UK in October.

Black women have always been at the forefront of social justice movements, fighting against oppression and paving the way for change. Despite their countless contributions to society, their achievements have too often been overlooked or forgotten.

Black History Month 2023 is a momentous opportunity to recognise and celebrate the exceptional achievements of black women, with a focus on honouring the matriarchs of movements and saluting our sisters.

Check out MU member and activist Lady Nade on the inside cover.

Musicians’ Census: Global Majority musicians

We also plan to publish the next Musicians’ Census Insight Report on the experiences of Global Majority musicians at the end of October.

We will be producing this in collaboration with Black Lives in Music, and our Census partner Help Musicians UK. Again, make sure you’re subscribed to receive MU newsletters to follow these updates.

Representing and advocating on behalf of musicians experiencing racism

Our network for members who experience racism is a space where people with shared identities and backgrounds can connect, network and make positive change across the MU and the music industry.

Join our member network

The network ensures that the voices of members who experience racism are heard and that opportunities for activism and leadership are created.

Sign up if you are a musician from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds to get your voice heard.

Sign up now

Representing and advocating on behalf of musicians experiencing racism

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Dr Diljeet Bhachu and award winner Elizabeth J Birch smiling after coming off stage together.

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Two Black musicians in the recording studio using the mixing desk and playing keyboard.

IYS and MU Release Black History Playlist

The playlist, which is available to stream now via Spotify, showcases Scottish Black artists and celebrates the partnership of the MU and IYS for Black History Month.

Published: 02 November 2023

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