LONDON: Britain’s pop music honours, the BRITs, will get rid of its female and male categories next year, introducing gender-neutral awards for local and international artists to make music prizes more inclusive.
Performers will now be in the running for artist of the year or international artist of the year instead of best male and female solo artist and best international male and female solo artist at the annual ceremony which will next take place on February 8, 2022.
“It is important that The BRITs continue to evolve and aim to be as inclusive as possible,” new BRITs chair and Polydor Records Co-President Tom March said in a statement. “It feels completely the right time to celebrate the achievements of artists for the music that they create, and the work that they do, irrespective of gender.”
The BRITs follow in the footsteps of other awards shows or events that have removed gender classifications. The academy has faced pressure to remove its gendered awards.
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In September, the San Sebastian Film Festival handed out its first ever gender-neutral acting award, for best leading performance, to joint winners Jessica Chastain and Flora Ofelia Hofmann Lindahl.
British comedian Mo Gilligan will host the show, while artistic team Block9 will help with the design. “The BRIT Awards are not just a celebration of British music, they are a reflection of British culture,” said Geoff Taylor, chief executive of the British Phonographic Industry and BRIT Awards.
“The changes we are making for the 2022 show should mean more new fans, more engagement and a bigger global platform than ever for our amazing artists.”
Sam Smith, who won the critics’ choice prize in 2014 and identifies as non-binary, has previously called for the move, saying they look forward to a time when award shows were “reflective of the society we live in”.
Next year’s BRITs, the 42nd edition of the awards show, will also extend nominations to featured artists in the coveted song of the year category. Until now, only lead artists or named collaborators were recognised as nominees for the prize.
Four new genre awards will also be introduced to showcase a range of music styles: alternative/rock act, hip-hop/grime/rap act, dance act and pop/R’n’B act. All four will be voted for by the public.
The rest of the categories will be decided by the voting academy. The song of the year prize will also recognise featured artists, rather than just the lead artists and named collaborators.