Australia’s peak music awards have announced an overhaul to recognise non-binary artists in 2021.
This year instead of awarding the best male or female artist, the Aria awards will instead hand out a Best Artist award.
It’s a huge change for the awards, established in 1987.
The awards have long celebrated Australian musical talent at the annual awards show.
This year the awards will again be a virtual event, in conjunction with Youtube.
Aria Awards “The time of excluding non-binary artists had absolutely passed
The discussion about the need for gendered categories in awards ceremonies has long been debated.
The Oscars and Emmys in the US have slowly adjusted their awards structures.
Subsequently, there have already been calls to remove their gendered categories.
For Aria CEO Annabell Herd, it’s about time.
“If you have categories that are limited to people who identify as male or female, then you are excluding a whole bunch of amazing artists that are non-binary. And it was clear that the time of excluding non-binary artists had absolutely passed.” Herd said in a statement.
She acknowledged that the previous structure to the gendered categories had prevented women from being represented as equal to men.
In a move to help ensure that all artists can be equally recognised in the awards, the category will be extended to ten nominees.
“We’re not going to get the gender balance right straight away.”
In her statement on Wednesday Annabell acknowledged issues with the Aria Award changes.
Whilst some see it as a step in the right direction for equality and diversity, others had raised concerns.
Women, including older women being overlooked had been raised, as well as bias towards male artists.
A brief look at previous inductees into the Aria Awards Hall of Fame paints an interesting picture.
Previous winners across the three decades of the awards highlight a heavy list of male recipients.
“Look, I understand [and] that concern has been raised, although not [by] many. Overwhelmingly, this announcement has been met with a really, really positive response. We’re not going to get the gender balance right straight away, and there are issues around recognition of female and non-binary artists that are going to take some work to change, but having a separate category for women is not the way to get equality.”
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