Now Is Not the Time For Silence

In 2020, B:Music began commissioning new music from black musicians’ to amplify their voices and experiences of racial inequality.

BBC Young Jazz Musician Xhosa Cole was one of the first artists to be invited to create brand-new music as part of the Now Is Not The Time For Silence project, along with singer, songwriter and pianist, Reuben James and Drummer, Composer and Producer, Romarna Campbell.

Their compositions were featured on Jazz FM on the one month anniversary of George Floyd’s death before being broadcast on Facebook and Instagram.

Directly after the release of these powerful pieces, two more artists were commissioned as part of this series. Ashley Allen and Namywa filmed their brand-new work for online broadcast at Symphony Hall, a B:Music venue.

That year ended with commissioned music from David Austin Grey, Alex Polack and Sonia ‘Indigo’ Clarke along with a documentary film, featuring some of the previously commissioned artists, hosted by China Moses.

As a result of funds raised prior to the pandemic, the transformation of Symphony Hall’s public spaces has continued throughout the coronavirus outbreak. As part of that opening weekend, B:Music's Now is Not the Time for Silence series continued in partnership with Namywa and Girl Grind UK, with performances of brand-new commissioned music from Indigo Marshall and Relley C.

In 2018, Birmingham City Council released a Community Cohesion report which stated “Our demographic landscape is increasingly becoming ethnically and socially ‘super diverse’, which means a greater understanding of the changes in cultural norms, identities and social shifts in how we live work and learn is needed.”

However, The Birmingham Mail reported in March 2020 a “sharp rise in racism offences in West Midlands” stating that in 2019 “there were a total of 4,134 racially or religiously aggravated offences recorded by West Midlands Police…a rise of more than 500 from the year before. It represents a huge rise from 2012 when the figure was 2,307.”