Sorry, we’ve given your contract to a minoritised candidate

Sorry, we’ve given your contract to a minoritised candidate


norman lebrecht

September 15, 2021

Spitalfields Music is an Arts Council-funded organisation that puts on music in challenging areas of East London.

A musician applying for one of its positions received this response from the organisation:

‘I’ve gone through all the applications and I would like to see if I could offer this opportunity to someone from a minoritised background, their availability allowing. I hope you can understand, and this is in no way to say that we won’t be in touch for other opportunities in the future!’

A soulmate of English Touring Opera?




  • Cynical Bystander says:

    Unusual for someone to come out so openly with the criteria that are being used to fill this and other positions. Of course, if there is not an a ‘minoritised’ candidate, availability allowing, they could fall back on some privileged individual who might just have been more qualified but now carried the unpardonable affront to virtue that they were not sufficiently minoritised.

  • Peter says:

    Racism v2.0. Seems like 1945 is a loooong time ago.

  • Martin says:

    Occurs to me that both ETO and Spitalfields are possibly doing this to deliberately draw attention to the lunacy that has been foisted upon them by ACE. They know these letters will get leaked, and want them to be – in order to have things publicly aired.

  • PeterB says:

    Yeah, imagine prioritising people from a minority background when you’re programming for one of the most deprived neighborhoods of London. What were they thinking. Really, such charities should consult a board of old middle class white males before making this kind of decisions.

    • Allen says:

      Well they clearly weren’t thinking that even people in deprived neighbourhoods are capable of appreciating talent regardless of background.

      Astonishingly patronising.

      • PeterB says:

        Sorry, you don’t have the faintest idea what you’re talking about. Representation is important. Knowing the background of your audience, especially when that background diverges from the middle class standard, is equally important. That’s as far from patronising as you can get.

        It is astonishing (well, not really, not anymore) how utterly tone-deaf many people reacting on this blog are. Stuffed with their own preconceptions, lacking the barest minimum of social empathy, only capable of pavlovian reactions when their oh so self-evident world view is confronted with the beginning of a hint of a shadow of a question.

        • V. Lind says:

          Well, my “oh so self-evident world view” includes not excluding people who have worked all their lives to hone a talent on the basis of their skin colour.

          I am a fervent supporter of getting more minorities into every walk of life that they choose to work toward, ability allowing, and for open doors and no exclusion.

          But this is not the way to do it. The lives of that musician, excluded because he is white, and the family his work supports, matter too.

          • Marfisa says:

            V. Lind, making assumptions? ‘he is white’, ‘the family his work supports’.

            In a different world, ethnicity would not matter. As this world is, in England, the balance should sometimes be tipped in favour of the black guy or girl who has worked all their life to hone their talent, simply because the white guy or girl who has done the same thing may find it easier to get another job; and also because there may be added value in a diverse team.

        • Allen says:

          Any opinion that differs from yours is pavlovian, and the holders of those opinions lack social empathy?

          People from deprived areas should be presented with the best available. It is patronising, and also very middle class, to assume that they are incapable of coping with performers whose background differs from theirs. East London is extremely diverse. Which “background” do you opt for, exactly? Or do you group them all together, assuming that all deprived people are the same? Now that really is patronising.

          Many years ago, the Royal Opera House allocated a number of Royal Ballet tickets to a school in East London. The teachers withheld the tickets on the grounds that the Royal Ballet was unsuitable for kids from poorer backgrounds. Parents found out and were furious. It was well reported at the time. This seems to be in-line with your thinking. We you involved, by any chance?

          • PeterB says:

            Sigh. Nobody says it’s about “incapable of coping with”. And your link with the Royal Ballet story is laughable. Maybe you should take the trouble to check what Spitalfield Music is, and maybe you should learn a bit about how cultural deprivation works before you voice your extremely uninformed opinion. And no, I was not involved with a school witholding tickets for the Royal Ballet. But thank you very much for confirming my opinion of the tone-deafness of a large part of this blog’s audience.

          • Helen says:

            Your petulant response to comments you disagree with speaks volumes.

        • christopher storey says:

          It sounds as though you were looking in a mirror when you wrote that , Peter B. Unlawful discrimination – which this is – remains unlawful discrimination even though you might wish it to be otherwise

        • Musikmann3.0 says:

          No not really. It’s perfectly possible for someone from a non-minoritised background to connect with and make great music in an area of deprivation such as this one, it happens all the time across the London region & beyond, the West Midlands, the NW etc. Now in this particular area it might be of benefit if the appointee spoke some Bengali, but then again, probably not really.
          This just appears to be dogma.

          • Marfisa says:

            “It’s perfectly possible for someone from a non-minoritised background to connect with and make great music in an area of deprivation such as this one”.

            Of course. But, if you think about it, that does sound suspiciously like a colonialist attitude, which of course you may be perfectly happy with.

    • sabrinensis says:

      How patronizing is it for you to think that in order to be effective, people must receive teaching or anything else specifically from others that look like them?

  • christopher storey says:

    Yet another claim in the making, and with no defence available

  • Nick says:

    Finally, an honest and public admission of overwhelming racism and aggressive chauvinism!! Disgusting! WHo would want to work in such an atmosphere, for such an organization?

  • sam says:

    “minoritised”, is that a British English neologism? First time I’ve seen this word as an American.

    Odd, “to be made a minority”, as though the status of minority were not a numerical fact but an imposed status by some other group…

    So I guess, women can be “minoritised” by males even though females comprise the majority of humanity

    So whites can be also be “minoritised” in England, by the EU for example, and also by non-white immigrants yielding social power over them…

  • John Borstlap says:

    There’s a cook aound here who was recently appointed and she looks suspiciously minoritised. The new gardener clearly is a diverse male. Curtains have been replaced last week by a darker shade, presumably ‘because winter season is coming’ but I begin to feel minor myself & will seek legal advice if this continues!


  • Pianofortissimo says:

    Warning: you get what you hire.

  • CA says:

    What a classy response. Not! Just send a letter saying thanks but no thanks. No need to rub the offense of having the wrong ethnicity in one’s face, like salt in a wound.

  • V. Lind says:

    “A soulmate of English Touring Opera?”

    I would have thought a lawsuit waiting to happen.

    And what the hell is “minoritised”? The term is “minority,” and it means “non-white.”

    • Gonout Backson says:

      Depends where.

      • V. Lind says:

        I know — I used to live in Hong Kong and it was quite revealing to be on the receiving end of quite blatant racism.

        But this discussion is about Spitalfields Music. Keep up.

    • Marfisa says:

      Sorry, minoritised is the appropriate term. White British are the minority in the Spitalfields area. The majority groups are Bangladeshi and Black. But they are disadvantaged in relation to white British, thus ‘minoritised’, ‘treated like a minority’.

      Definition: to make (a person or group) subordinate in status to a more dominant group or its members. E.g. “Though women constitute a majority of employees, they are routinely minoritized, passed over for promotion, and poorly represented in upper management.”

  • psq says:

    Why didn’t the management state plainly when it advertised the position whom it will not consider for the position, e.g., non-minoritised need not apply? Then it would not have to write this ridiculous letter.
    “non-minoritised”- remember you see this word construct here first!

  • Shariah says:

    Spitalfields Music and the Arts Council can’t do that that’s racist. This is discrimination! Racial discrimination or prejudice is illegal and applies to all human beings no matter what creed or colour. Your skill and your skill only should be the deciding factor in any position.

  • anon says:

    In the United States, this rejection letter would be grounds for a lawsuit.