Belmont University Symposium To Examine Entertainment Industry’s Diversity And Inclusion Gaps

Pictured (Top row, L-R): Alejandro Sierra, Jackie Patillo, Jeannette Ceja. (Bottom row, L-R): Jill McMillan, Brian Sexton and Cheryl Slay Carr are just a few of the confirmed participants in the “Minding the Gap” symposium.

Belmont University’s Curb College of Entertainment and Music Business aims to increase awareness gaps in diversity and inclusion in the entertainment industry with the recently-announced one-day symposium set for Sept. 27.

Titled “Minding the Gap,” the symposium includes six open-to-the-public panel presentations, which will include executives and artists including 102.1FM The Ville’s Shannon Sanders; RCA Inspirational’s Phil Thornton; hip-hop artist Tim Gent; Gospel Music Association’s Jackie Patillo; and National Museum of African American Music curatorial director Dr. Dina Bennett, as well as entrepreneur and travel reporter Jeannette Ceja; Arts & Business Council of Greater Nashville executive director Jill McMillan; artists Jason Eskridge, Jamiah, Ysa Fernandez, and Alejandro Sierra; producer Ron Gilmore, and Creatives Day founder/CEO Brian Sexton. The symposium will be held at Belmont University’s Gordan E. Inman Center.

Organized by Dr. Cheryl Carr, associate dean of the Curb College and frequent author/speaker on issues of diversity and inclusion in the entertainment business, the event promises open conversation about topics timely in Nashville’s entertainment scene and beyond.

Carr said, “As an academic institution, our mission is to investigate and understand what’s happening now, with a view to shaping the future. Not because a topic is popular, but because it matters. And inclusive excellence is important for the entertainment industry. I believe this Symposium is an idea whose time has come. Anyone who is interested in being part of a forward-thinking and balanced discussion is invited to join us.”

“Minding the Gap: A Diversity in Entertainment Symposium” is part of Belmont University’s fifth annual Diversity Week, an event designed for members of the community to engage in meaningful conversations surrounding diversity, inclusion, privilege, cultural humility and more.

“Minding the Gap: A Diversity in Entertainment Symposium” Daily Schedule:
9-9:50 a.m.: The Rise of an Urban Music Scene in Nashville
Moderator: Dr. Eric Holt, assistant professor of music business, Belmont University
Confirmed Panelists:
D’Llisha Davis, 2L’s On A Cloud, Owner, Editor
Ron Gilmore, Dreamville Producer
Shannon Sanders, Program Director, 102.1FM The Ville
Phil Thornton, Senior Vice President, RCA Inspirational
Tim Gent, Hip-Hop Artist

10-10:50 a.m.: Who’s in the Room Where It Happens? A Look at Women in the Music Industry
Interviewer: Dr. Cheryl Carr, associate dean of the Curb College
Jackie Patillo, Gospel Music Association president and executive director

11-11:50 a.m.: It’s a Great Big Entertainment World: Creative Diversity in Operas, Museums & Nonprofit Arts
Moderator: Lea Maitlen, Nashville Opera Company director of marketing
Confirmed Panelists:
Dr. Dina Bennett, National Museum of African American Music curatorial director
Brian Sexton, Creatives Day founder and CEO
Jill McMillan, Arts & Business Council of Greater Nashville executive director

1:30-2:20 p.m.: JetSet and the News—Leveraging Diversity in the Digital Age
Moderator: Dr. Sybril Brown, professor of media studies, Belmont University
Confirmed Panelists:
Jeannette Ceja, entrepreneur and travel reporter
Grover Murrell, WZTV-TV assignment manager

2:30-3:20 p.m.: The Sound of Inclusion
Musical performances by Jason Eskridge, Jamiah, Ysa Fernandez and Alejandro Sierra

3:30-4:20 p.m.: Film Narratives for a Progressive Future
Moderator: Dr. Amy Bertram, lecturer of motion pictures, Belmont University
Confirmed Panelists:
Hazel Joyner-Smith, International Black Film Festival (IBFF) founder/CEO
Ingrid Brown, IBFF co-founder
Ivey Smith, IBFF
Dr. Haerin Shin, assistant professor of English, Vanderbilt University


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About the Author

Jessica Nicholson serves as the Managing Editor for MusicRow magazine. Her previous music journalism experience includes work with Country Weekly magazine and Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) magazine. She holds a BBA degree in Music Business and Marketing from Belmont University. She welcomes your feedback at [email protected]

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