health charity bapam launches bursary scheme to support music’s black, asian and ethnic minority community

BAPAM (the British Association for Performing Arts Medicine) has today announced the launch of a new bursary scheme to improve counselling support for individuals from Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities working in the UK music industry. The scheme, which is open for applications until 16 December 2020, is jointly funded by Help Musicians and PPL as part of their ongoing commitment to further improving equality, diversity and inclusion.

Following the call earlier this year from the Black Music Coalition for “tangible changes” within the industry, BAPAM has explored how to improve the provision of mental health services that are accessible to Black, Asian and minority ethnic performers and performing arts professionals. Poor mental health has been well-evidenced in the music industry and has found the Black, Asian and minority ethnic community to be disproportionately affected, with few Black therapists working specifically with performing artists.

The joint venture between BAPAM, Help Musicians and PPL will provide up to five bursaries for Black, Asian and minority ethnic performers and professionals in the music industry to undertake training, accredited by the BACP (British Association of Counsellors and Psychotherapists), UKCP (UK Council for Psychotherapy) or BABCP (British Association for Behavioural & Cognitive Psychotherapies), to become a registered counsellor or psychotherapist.

Bursaries of up to £3,000 will be awarded per year of study towards course fees and allowances. BAPAM will also employ a mental health professional to manage and oversee the scheme, including the arrangement of supervision and the management of training placements.

This project will support a formalised career pathway from the music industry into a performing arts mental health career for Black, Asian and minority ethnic staff and performers, and will seek to increase the capacity of culturally-competent therapists to support the high levels of mental health problems in the community, which are anticipated post-COVID-19.

Announcing the bursary scheme, BAPAM’s Chief Executive Officer, Claire Cordeaux, said:

“We know that the bond between therapist and client is often the most important factor in the effectiveness of therapy, and that for many Black, Asian and minority ethnic individuals in the performing arts, the lack of diversity among therapists can be a barrier to accessing services. We are delighted to be working with PPL and Help Musicians UK to offer this opportunity which has the added benefit of delivering free counselling to the music and performing arts sector, as trainees develop their practice.”

BAPAM Trustee, Dr Charlie Easmon said:

“As a Black doctor interested in mental health and on the board of the excellent charity BAPAM, I am really excited by this key step forward in representation, financial empowerment and assistance for performers and music professionals from minority ethnic backgrounds to add new skills and help others who will benefit by being understood by their peers.” 

BAPAM Counsellor, Psychotherapist and Supervisor, Beverley Hills said:

“A timely initiative that hopefully will begin to break down the barriers to Black, Asian and minority ethnic career progression in the psychotherapeutic arena by addressing the seriously poor representation of artistic practitioners from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds. There are hurdles that exist with often forgotten individuals and performers who need the safety of a seen cultural reference to be in place before they can begin to address their mental health issues with their therapist. People want to talk to people who not only understand their sector but who also look like them. With this bursary, BAPAM, PPL and Help Musicians aim to tackle this low visibility of Black, Asian and minority ethnic professionals in the field.” 

PPL’s Chief Executive Officer, Peter Leathem, who is also the Chair of BAPAM added:

“My colleagues and I have been on a journey to better understand how we can do more, and do better, in relation to PPL’s equality, diversity and inclusion efforts. On learning about the way in which the Black community is under-represented and under-supported in the field of counselling support, it became important for us to explore how to respond, even more so in the context of COVID-19 where many across the industry are experiencing challenges with their mental health. This bursary scheme will strengthen the level of support available to individuals in the Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities and, together with BAPAM and Help Musicians, we will continue to listen, learn and take action, where possible, to deliver meaningful change and progress.”

Help Musicians’ Director of Programme, Claire Gevaux, said:

“Help Musicians is delighted to be working in collaboration with PPL and BAPAM on this hugely important initiative. On top of the unique set of challenges faced by those who dedicate their lives to music, we know that the events of this year continue to have a profound effect on the mental health of musicians. We also know that it is vital that everyone feels represented in the support that they receive. By committing to change and increasing the opportunities for Black, Asian and minority ethnic musicians to become therapists, we hope to increase the diversity of the sector and ensure we are all working together towards a more inclusive industry.”

More details can be found on the recently relaunched BAPAM website here: