Diversity & Inclusivity
Black Tour Directory, Diversify The Stage And Black Roadies Diversify The Front And Back Of House
Roadies of Color United, Diversify The Stage, and Live Nation’s Black Touring Directory, along with groups like the Black Promoters Collective, have stepped forward in a big way to diversify the live business in 2020 in part out of necessity but also opportunity, with the industry paused by COVID.
For Lance “K.C.” Jones and Bill Reeves of Roadies of Color United, the advent of Crewspace in 2009 set off light bulbs. “Maybe you go through 100 profiles and see one minority,” Jones says. “You go through another 150 profiles and see another minority. It was a very small representation.” Reeves adds. United Roadies of Color set out to change that with a website and social media platforms that provide crew profiles and other resources. Membership surpassed 1,000 this year.
Diversify The Stage was born out Noelle Scaggs’ (above, right) frustration with all too often being the only woman, let alone Black woman, on or behind the stage with Fitz & The Tantrums. The pandemic gave her time to develop a vision to not just facilitate hiring of underrepresented touring pros but to provide education, mentoring and internships for young people. She was introduced to Jerome Crooks (above, left), a founder of Never Famous that, like United Roadies of Color, strives to connect the underrepresented with jobs.
“If the pool is shallow, let’s begin working on the next generation so that it’s no longer an excuse to say, five years from now, that there aren’t enough individuals that are people of color, LGBTQ community members or things like that,” Scaggs says.
Jen Smith, Live Nation’s director of U.S. Concerts tour marketing, brought the idea of a Black Tour Directory to Live Nation Urban President Shawn Gee, and the initiative was formally announced Oct. 12. It’s a free, online resource containing contact information for Black-owned businesses and Black professionals throughout the live music industry.
“We all have shared, similar stories, we have all the same experiences and we are all on the same page, the same team,” Smith says of the groups’ shared goals. “We all support each other, and that’s what’s so important. We’ve been asking for inclusion and diversity … We’re all trying to do this thing which is change the existing narrative and provide a resource.”