“When you see something that is not right, you must say something. You must do something. “ — John Lewis
Now is the time to be courageous, to take responsibility and to take action. Much-needed change is underway as we all do our part to pave a more equitable path for our communities and our country. There is strong momentum during this time and advocates nationwide are coming together as champions of positive change. Over the past few weeks, we have joined forces with other national organizations with shared values and vision in an effort to raise a collective voice supporting Black communities, Gen Z voter mobilization, and social and economic recovery. It is in this moment that we can all fully understand what the late inimitable John Lewis meant when he encouraged us to get into “good trouble”.
“Kids In America”
We are living amongst the largest generation of young people in history, an army of informed and socially engaged youth that is cause for great optimism. Young people are a driving force for change and in an election year that fact carries monumental weight. Millennials and Gen Z comprise nearly 40% of the electorate and over four million young people will turn 18 this year, becoming eligible to vote. That is why we have partnered with Rock the Vote, When We All Vote, and Voto Latino for #DemocracySummer2020 as well as other organizations committed to combining resources in an effort to mobilize youth voices to the polls via a series of empowering and educational events leading up to the November election. #DemocracySummer2020 kicked off with a virtual live stream event featuring performances from Katy Perry and Black Eyed Peas and appearances from Senator Elizabeth Warren, Senator Cory Booker, Lucy Hale, Saweetie, Music Forward Ambassador Sofia Carson and many others.
Monday, August 31st, we join Rock the Vote once more alongside activists, performers, trailblazers, and elected officials for We Vote. We Rise. Get a sneak preview of our video featuring 18 of our young female artists performing a powerful cover of Alicia Key’s “Superwoman” here, honoring the power of women, as we imagine the America of the next 100 years. We will also participate in National Voter Education Week, October 5th – 9th, a campaign that will equip voters with the tools, information, and confidence they need to cast their ballots this fall. This year, the decisions voters make in November will reverberate for a generation to come, through all three branches of American government and across the world and we are committed to amplifying the voices of our young people and advocating for the power of voting, stay tuned and join us as we approach one of the most important elections of our lifetime.
“Everything Must Change”
The Black Music Action Coalition (BMAC) is an advocacy organization formed in alliance with #TheShowMustBePaused, and is a coalition of artists, producers, songwriters, managers, attorneys, organizations, and other passionate industry professionals that have come together to address systemic racism within the music industry and society at large. The initiative has been signed by over 200 artists including Ariana Grande, Billie Eilish, Cardi B, Lil’ Nas X, Music Forward Ambassador Khalid, Mary J. Blige, Missy Elliot, Nicki Minaj, Quincy Jones, and Snoop Dogg and over 160 partners, including Music Forward Foundation, have joined the coalition to help influence culture on matters of racial justice and equity through policy, philanthropy, and voter education.
“The music industry unfortunately has not been immune to the systemic racism that plagues our country,” BMAC founding member Binta Brown, tells Rolling Stone. “Fixing our society requires addressing the issues in music, media and entertainment, and it requires all of us working together. Our aim is to harness the power of music and activate our community to effectuate real, positive systemic change not only within the music business, but for our artists, black communities, and society as a whole.”
BMAC was created to address long standing racial inequities in the business and is focused on ways to solve these problems. This aligns directly with our mission. Music Forward is unyielding in our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion and our programs are designed to help break the barriers of gender, poverty, and race to create access and opportunity for the next generation of leaders, innovators, and artists across the music industry.
“Something to Talk About”
Over the summer, our Executive Director Nurit Siegel Smith was invited to participate in the Americans for the Arts Annual Convention and Public Art & Civic Design.
She presented a session on the theme, “Power, Money, and Public Benefit”, focused on how the strategic alliance between public benefit organizations and private corporations will be critical in our social and economic recovery, exploring the value proposition for both, what it means when resources are shared, and how a shift in power transforms our communities.
During the discussion, Nurit challenged everyone to think about the untapped potential of dollars in the private sector, and the impact they could have on public good. The virtual conference event explored the dynamic between public and private entities, and how we will need each other to rebuild for an economy that serves all Americans. This month, Americans for the Arts launched the new #ArtsCreateHope campaign. Let’s keep in mind, how much the arts mean to us in times like these!
“Make the Pledge”
This month, we are excited to support Americans for the Arts Action Fund as it launches its ArtsVote “Make Your Vote Count” pledge campaign with artwork designed by renowned contemporary artist and Americans for the Arts Artists Committee member Shepard Fairey. In partnership with state arts advocacy organizations, the Arts Action Fund has customized Voter Info Factsheets for every state and U.S. territory, which provide the latest details and deadlines on vote-by-mail ballots, early voting, and in-person voting, offering registered voters info on all the new election rules and deadlines created due to COVID-19.
In closing, as we all reflect on purpose and priorities, the time is now for each of us to do our part; continue to follow along and join us as we inspire and empower the next generation. It is never too early to start making a difference. As John Lewis’ New York Times Op-Ed article put it so beautifully,
“Like so many young people today, I was searching for a way out, or some might say a way in, and then I heard the voice of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on an old radio. He was talking about the philosophy and discipline of nonviolence. He said we are all complicit when we tolerate injustice. He said it is not enough to say it will get better by and by. He said each of us has a moral obligation to stand up, speak up and speak out. When you see something that is not right, you must say something. You must do something. Democracy is not a state. It is an act, and each generation must do its part to help build what we called the Beloved Community, a nation and world society at peace with itself.”