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Affecting industry change, Saffron makes the case for equality in music

Founded by Laura Lewis-Paul in Bristol in 2015, Saffron is a non-profit organisation that’s been making courses in DJing, music production, and sound engineering accessible to women, non-binary people, and other minoritised genders in the name of improving equality in the music industry. Now, they need the support of their community to sustain them. DIABOLICAL brought the message to the streets.

It’s no secret that Saffron’s work is needed. With ‘less than 5% of the music tech industry… comprised of women, non-binary or trans people’, and as ‘less than 1% of these are people of colour’, the organisation has been on a mission to ‘change those stats through meaningful, long-term, and far-reaching projects’.

Both in-person and online, Saffron’s courses, workshops, and mentorships have seen over one thousand participants get involved and are consistently oversubscribed. One of their most popular offerings is Mix Nights, a DJing course which has enabled 41% of graduates to go onto paid gig bookings; 34% of their radio course graduates have secured their own residencies. Saffron has created safe spaces in the hope of nurturing underrepresented talent in the industry – by giving people the essential room to learn and build confidence.



Photo by Carmel King for Passing Notes Magazine

As a ‘mixed Black Caribbean-led organisation’, Saffron recently boosted its work through funding and grants it was eligible for following the 2020 Black Lives Matter movement. But as is often the case in these circumstances, a lot of this backing came in the form of one-off gestures. Together with the loss of crucial grants, expected work being cut, and the removal of their primary industry donor, Saffron arrived at a position of precarity, putting the organisation’s future into serious doubt.

To sustain their work, a huge campaign to Save Saffron was kickstarted. DIABOLICAL is passionate about diversifying the music industry and about supporting up-and-coming talent, so partnered with Saffron to take their message to the streets. Across Saffron’s home city of Bristol, as well as Cardiff, Edinburgh, Glasgow, London, Manchester and Sheffield, the street poster and digital campaign made Saffron’s message heard: ‘If only there was a way of making the music scene more inclusive… Oh wait.’

Saffron's sound engineering course

The solutions to inequalities in the music industry are in front of people if they want to pay attention to them. Saffron has pointed out that they’re doing the work that fans and observers are often calling for (for example, around the male-dominated Glastonbury 2023 line-up announcements) – it then makes the case for ensuring that organisations like Saffron are sustainable.

Saffron’s initial fundraiser is now complete, and the future is on its way to being finalised – but in the meantime, Saffron and Mix Nights are throwing a big, much-deserved party to celebrate at Bristol’s Propyard on 22 July. Catch I. JORDAN, Elena Colombi, Amaliah, Daisy Moon, Em Williams and Mix Nights graduate Caragh on the line-up.

Saffron's Mix Nights showcase
Saffron's artist development showcase

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