Film Academy and UMG Renew Jonas Gwangwa Initiative
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Film Academy and UMG Renew Jonas Gwangwa Initiative

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, in partnership with Universal Music Group, announced the extension of the Jonas Gwangwa Music Composition Initiative, which aims to develop black musicians interested in composing music for film.

The initiative is dedicated to South African musician, composer and Oscar nominee Jonas Gwangwa, who died in 2021. He received Oscar nominations for original score and original song for his work with George Fenton in “Cry Freedom.” The program, which launched in 2022, aims to provide mentoring and networking opportunities for aspiring Black composers with the aim of supporting broader representation in film scoring.

In its second year, UMG’s partners include the Task Force for Meaningful Change (TFMC), Mercury Studios, Universal Music Publishing Group Classics, and UMG’s Screen, Decca Records and Globe.

“Jonas Gwangwa’s life and legacy of commitment as an artist-activist who used music as a tool for social change are undeniable, and it’s an honor to honor him with this program,” said Menna Demessie, senior vice president, UMG and executive director, Task Force for Meaningful Change. “This initiative will continue to help create space for a more diverse cadre of film composers and ultimately provide career opportunities that advance the industry itself.”

The programme is open to black artists and composers from the UK and US who have at least three years of experience as musicians. Four participants, two from the UK and two from the US, will be selected through an application process.

Participants will be paired with a filmmaker who is in the process of making a short film and will be given the opportunity to compose music for the film. Each participant will receive a grant to help support their film composition projects.

Academy members will be available as resources across the branches to help participants understand the filmmaking process. Additional benefits include one-on-one mentoring with a member of the Academy’s Music Branch to learn about the practicalities of composing for film; access to Academy events and screenings in London and Los Angeles; and introductions to leading practitioners from all areas of film music, among other mentoring programs.

“After an incredibly successful first year, the Academy is excited about the second year of the Jonas Gwangwa Music Composition Initiative,” said Kendra Carter, senior vice president of impact and global talent development at the Academy. “Our goal with this program is to stimulate long-term career opportunities in the film industry for underrepresented musicians, and we thank our partners at Universal Music Group and our Academy members whose passion, dedication, and experience make this work possible.”

The Jonas Gwangwa Musical Composition Initiative is now open for applications.