Founder/Co-Lead, Diversify The Stage/Fitz & The Tantrums
One of the most ambitious uses of COVID-caused downtime by an artist comes from Noelle Scaggs, the co-lead singer of Fitz & The Tantrums, who founded and developed Diversify The Stage, a broad-based initiative to facilitate hiring of underrepresented touring professionals as well as to provide education, mentoring and internships for young people to enter the live business.
“Diversify The Stage was built out of necessity,” Scaggs says. “I really wanted to develop more discussions on the lack of diversity that I’d recognized throughout my experiences on the road with my band.
“It started with a few phone calls to friends who donated their advice and their networks to help me identify what I could do to help shift the narrative. All of those initial phone calls turned into a growing community of changemakers and seekers, working to create a more diverse, inclusive and equitable concerts, events and touring industry.”
Diversify The Stage has partnered with Music Forward Foundation to develop youth programs and a pipeline for them to enter the live industry; tour manager Jerome Crooks and NeverFamous.com to build a solution to the industry’s “word-of-mouth” hiring practices; The Black Music Action Coalition, Women in Music, She Is The Music, EVEN Network, SoundGirls, Roadies Of Color United, Valence Community, Event Safety Alliance, IEBA and Showmakers, all working toward transforming the industry to reflect more diverse communities.
Another goal is to implement IDEA (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accessibility) guidelines into artist riders.
“I am working with my tour manager to create a demand for accountability by using tangible asks, so any promoter or production company that we work with understands what we want to see reflected on our stages and encourages best practices towards creating more inclusive workspaces,” Scaggs explains.