The organisers of the Brit awards have invited attendees to wear a white rose pin to the ceremony to acknowledge the entertainment industry’s fight against sexual harassment.
In a letter sent this afternoon to nominees, guests and the 1,000 members of the Brits voting academy, and seen by the Guardian, the Brits director of events and charities, Maggie Crowe, said the pin would be given out “as a symbol of solidarity, which we invite them to wear, if they so choose”.
The pins will be distributed ahead of guests’ arrival on the red carpet.
It will be the third such symbolic gesture at a high-profile awards ceremony this year. After the allegations of sexual assault levelled at the Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, a group of actors and activists founded the Time’s Up initiative and urged guests at the Golden Globes to wear black in support of their movement. Attendees largely obliged.
At the Grammy awards, late January, Voices in Entertainment, a grassroots group of women employed by large record labels, asked attendees to wear a white rose to acknowledge the #MeToo movement. They explained their choice of the flower in an email sent to guests. “We choose the white rose because historically it stands for hope, peace, sympathy and resistance,” it read. The uptake was less widespread than at the Golden Globes.
The Brits’ tribute is unusual in that it has been coordinated by the event’s organising body, the British Phonographic Industry, rather than an external group. The BPI consulted with Voices in Entertainment on its tribute. However, the Voices in Entertainment’s co-founder Karen Rait, the head of rhythmic promotions at Interscope/Geffen/A&M records, caused confusion when she suggested in an interview with Pitchfork that record labels did not have a problem with abuse.
Unlike the Grammys, which launched an internal investigation into gender discrimination after a study found that 90% of nominees in the past six years were male, the Brits has not come under fire for gender inequality – partially because the BPI still splits the categories for best British and international solo artists along gender lines.
In January, Paloma Faith – who is nominated for best British female solo artist – criticised this year’s ceremony for its lack of female performers. At the time, only Dua Lipa was scheduled to play live, but the BPI has since announced that Rita Ora and Jorja Smith will join the lineup.
However, after the 2016 ceremony in which no black artist was nominated in a major category, the BPI responded to criticism under the #BritsSoWhite hashtag by inviting 700 new members to their voting academy, shifting the gender split from 70% men to almost 50-50 male and female, as well as 17% from BAME backgrounds.
The change was evident in that year’s nominations, with Skepta, Kano, Michael Kiwanuka, Zayn, Tinie Tempah, Lianne La Havas, Nao and Emeli Sandé all up for awards.
Lipa is the most nominated artist at this year’s Brit awards, appearing in five categories including best British female solo artist. Ed Sheeran is the runner-up with four nominations. The east London rapper J Hus and platinum-selling songwriter Rag’n’Bone Man each received three.
The Brit awards are voted for by the academy, a group of music industry and media figures – except for the breakthrough artist award, which is voted for by the public, and the video award, where a public vote on social media whittles the 10 nominees down to five, before another public vote decides the winner. The video and single nominees are not selected by the academy, but are rather the year’s most viewed and biggest selling singles respectively.
The ceremony takes place on Wednesday 21 February at the O2 Arena in London, and will be broadcast live on ITV.