WRITTEN BY: CECILIE BREE WILKINS
With excitement surrounding tonight’s Grammys there has also been controversy this week leading up after Chief Executive Officer of The Recording Academy, Deborah Dugan, revealed alleged misconduct within the Academy as well as a rigged voting system.
Dugan was placed on administrative leave after allegedly “bullying” an administrative assistant and causing a difficult work environment. Soon after being placed on leave Dugan filed a discrimination complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that included allegations of sexual misconduct in addition to vote rigging.
“There is a degree of corruption in that system,” Dugan told NPR “There is a problem when you have board members on those committees who have a vested interest in having certain artists winning.”
Dugan also brought attention to the Grammys’ nomination review committees, who remain unidentified, who ultimately decide which artists receive nominations.
Dugan alleged that board members manipulated the nominations process by pushing for artists they were in connection with.
“For instance, Ed Sheeran and Ariana Grande, who had been voted for by the membership, missed out on nominations in the 2019 ‘Song of the Year,’” Dugan explained in her complaint, to make room for a lower rated artist.
Reportedly names of nominees were even added at the request of Grammys’ producer, Ken Ehrlich, who later denied the accusations.
“Do I think that this system of him making it clear who he’d like on the show to the board members who are then in the room voting is not a correct one going forward?” she asked rhetorically. “I do. I think it should be changed,” Dugan told NPR.
In an email to The New York Times Mr. Ehrlich said, “There is no truth to what she alleges.”
After the 2018 Grammy Awards ceremony received criticism for a lack of diversity, specifically regarding female nominees and performers, then CEO, Neil Portnow stated that female artists needed to “step up” in order to be recognized.
Moving forward from that controversial sentiment, Dugan chose to implement suggestions that the Grammys have a dedicated diversity officer, however making that change was not easy.
“I got pushback on like, ‘Oh, we don’t need a chief diversity officer,” Dugan told NPR.
Members of the diversity task force have spoken out regarding the Acadedmy’s compliance. Ty Stiklorius, manager of artists, such as singer John Legend, posted on Twitter, “I won’t stay quiet on this. As an Academy Inclusivity Task Force member I saw the inner workings & lack of transparency. The board voted down our recommendation of Ranked Choice Voting. They have not implemented our recommendations but used us as a pawn.”
the Academy’s Task Force on Diversity and Inclusion issued its own statement as well: “We are deeply disappointed at the level of commitment by some of the Academy’s leadership in effecting the kind of real and constructive change presented in our report. We are confident that they can do better.”
Photo Source: The New York Times