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Saturday, 29 November 2014

Are you a BBC folk awards judge who is proud to be associated with the awards? Why not out yourself?

I've moved caves.


The previous one was in Bethnal Green and I've made the long, arduous trek of a mile and a half to Mile End, where my new cave is, to be perfectly honest, much less cave-like while also containing far fewer fairy lights (so far). But the glamour is - obviously - eternal. I'm renting from some friends who've moved abroad and their place is blinking marvellous: I'd love to invite you all round but there's building work going on...

I mention this by way of an apology for recent quietness. There was an issue with wifi and a general sense of upheaval but I'm back.

And I have an idea.

A few days ago I fell to wondering why I hadn't heard anything about the folk awards this year, which made me slightly nervous as I'm perfectly well aware that if, for any reason, the BBC decides not to hold them a minority will inevitably point in my direction, on the grounds that rocking the boat is the worst sin of all. It wouldn't be fair but - hey - what is?


However, it turns out that the awards will be held in April 2015 instead of the usual February, which explains it.

So yes: the judging process.

You'll probably be aware that I've been waging a long and highly educational - for me - campaign to get the BBC to name its folk awards judges, who are currently anonymous while also enjoying strong links, many of them financial, to the folk music scene in the UK. Read about it again here.

What started as mere curiosity led to the realisation that the BBC is contravening its own transparency guidelines and then astonishment at its imperviousness to having this pointed out, publicly and repeatedly. In addition to a failed freedom of information request, pressure from national newspapers and magazines and three MPs wading in, including the chairman of the culture, media and sport committee, John Whittingdale, the BBC press office sent me an email this year saying that it intends to continue in its opaque ways. They seem not to mind that it undermines the credibility of the thing. Perhaps someone at the Beeb feels that the folk awards don't need any credibility?

Their line is that naming the judges would mean that people would be able to get in touch with them and lobby them - by which I can only assume they mean "play them some music" - and that this would be a bad thing. So from my point of view there are only two possible courses of action this year.

(1) I call on the BBC to anonymise every other judging panel they have, including Strictly Come Dancing. This would immunise them from the charge of hypocrisy, make it clear that they've publicly reversed their transparency guidelines and simultaneously prove that it is not laziness, corruption or just giving folkies the shitty end of the stick.

I touched on some of these issues in a blog about morris dancing the other day. I think the corporation's intransigence is, at least partly, a class issue. Don't let the BBC treat you like a second class citizen – for be in no doubt that if you are a folky this is what's happening. They are sending the message that you don't deserve the same levels of integrity that are commonly applied to public life: folkies are not worth it. Email Bob Shennan, the controller of Radio 2 on bob.shennan@bbc.co.uk if you think this matters. If you don't: that's why it's happening in the first place.

(2) On the other hand, if you are a folk awards judge and would like to go on the record - and I suspect there are some because they've been in touch - please email me (again) and let me know. There are probably around 200 judges in total by now: I wonder how many will come forward?


So if you are a folk awards judge and would like to "out" yourself please email me here. If you are a folk awards judge who thinks this is a storm in a teacup then you can prove it by emailing me here. However, if you think it's important that the status quo be maintained I'd just bitch and moan about me on a web forum if I were you.

You could also email me if you know someone who is a folk awards judge, who you think may not have seen this post and I'll happily forward it to them without letting on who tipped me off.

This is going to get interesting.

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2 comments:

  1. Hello Emma,
    Enjoy your new abode and hope you get new fairy lights soon!

    Just a quick note to say keep up the good work with trying to get the BBC to live up to their reputation(even if somewhat shabby lately, especially with reference to the Folk Award judges' issue). I live in Ireland and have always thought the BBC to be a very good organisation. I too love folk music and was very taken aback to read all about your campaign and the BBC's response. Frankly, the whole thing is ridiculous. Thank you for the email address of the BBC Radio 2 controller, I'll be contacting him shortly.

    Kind regards,

    Red

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi Red,

    Thanks! You wouldn't be the first today. I've been cc'd into one already.

    Much appreciated
    Emma

    ReplyDelete

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