The live industry is not immune from the types of systemic inequality which have sparked protests around the world, following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Access spoke to Kadesh Beckford, a London-based promoter who goes by DJ Conspiracy. He has staged club nights, comedy, talent shows, poetry, spoken word and many other kinds of events in the UK and internationally. He told us about the ways he has experienced prejudice and discrimination, and says the industry has a long way to go when it comes to diversity.
“Being black in the events industry is challenging because I’ve faced racism,” he says. “I’ve called a venue in the past and lied about my birth name and the quotation I got was considerably lower than when I presented myself physically. When I approached the same venue in a tailored fit suit after work and made enquiries, I was told that they don’t do urban events.
“When it was perceived that I was a white man with exactly the same agenda I was given a price and asked whether I wanted to put down a deposit. This was all based on the same genre of music.”
DJ Conspiracy is the Founder of a fundraiser called 24-4-24, which is taking place on Saturday 20 June. It will see 24 DJs performing over 24 hours (since increased to 36 hours, due to demand), with all funds raised going to the Stephen Lawrence Foundation. You can watch the event live on Instagram at @24_4_24_, starting 12pm.
“When it was perceived that I was a white man with exactly the same agenda I was given a price and asked whether I wanted to put down a deposit.”
The Stephen Lawrence Foundation works with young people from disadvantaged backgrounds aged 13 to 30 to inspire and enable them to succeed in the career of their choice. It aims to create a fairer society in which everyone, regardless of their background, can flourish. If you would like to donate to the fundraiser, you can do so here.
DJ Conspiracy added: “Unfortunately, we don’t get the same privileges as others. For example, if I book a club, I’d be looked over or told no based on my ethnicity. It doesn’t matter if I have references and a clean record of no trouble. I’d either be told that my date was no longer available or the quote for the venue would more than double.
“I decided to do this event because I feel like action is the only way to make change. I don’t want to see the continuation of social injustices and racism within the world, so why not affect change by doing something tangible?”