Brussels, 23rd May 2024,

IMPALA announces the recipient of its Changemaker Award 2024: Black & Irish, an Irish not-for-profit organisation advocating for the black community in Ireland, fostering connections within Irish society and championing an anti-racist ethos. 

Black & Irish was founded almost four years ago by Leon Diop, Femi Bakole and Pierre Yimbog and works with strategic partners in the areas of advocacy, community engagement and education. Driven by their vision of a more equal society, they strive to make the voices and experiences of marginalised communities more heard. 

Black & Irish has curated publications such as “Black & Irish: Legends, trailblazers and everyday heroes” for which they received the An Post Irish Book Award 2023. Their Black & Irish Podcast series delves into the lived experiences of Black and mixed-race individuals in Ireland, exploring topics ranging from music to societal challenges. The organisation also hosts the annual Black & Irish Gala awards, recognising the contributions of the Black & Irish community. 

As part of their educational outreach, Black & Irish conducts awareness talks on bias and racism, engages in educational projects, and provides valuable resources to support marginalised communities. They create safe spaces for discussion, sharing personal stories and accessing initiatives and networking opportunities within the community.

Leon Diop, co-founder of Black & Irish, commented: “Receiving the IMPALA Changemaker Award is a recognition of our commitment to create a more equitable and inclusive Ireland. It is a testament to the collective efforts of our team and the partnerships we have built. Our work is rooted in collaboration and community empowerment. Through initiatives like the Black & Irish Gala awards and our educational programs, we’re fostering dialogue, celebrating achievements, and driving positive change.”

Eva Karman Reinhold, SOM’s CEO, IMPALA Equity, Diversity and Inclusion task force’s chair added: “Black & Irish is an inspiration in their dedicated and creative work to strengthen the community. We are privileged to recognise and celebrate their impactful contributions in Ireland, and I can imagine similar initiatives across Europe.”

Keith Harris OBE, adviser of IMPALA’s Equity Diversity and Inclusion task force commented: “The organisation’s work for the empowerment of marginalised communities within the music industry and beyond is crucial. I hope this recognition for Black & Irish helps to spread their impact across Europe.

Helen Smith, IMPALA’s Executive Chair concluded: “Black & Irish is our third winner and a lighthouse for all those in the industry striving for meaningful change. We are honoured to highlight their work with our Changemaker Award, alongside the other projects that inspire change as featured on our Changemakers page.

This award runs yearly during European Diversity Month with IMPALA members nominating projects, and IMPALA’s equity, diversity and inclusion task force voting the winner.

Make sure to check our dedicated webpage highlighting other initiatives that promote equity, diversity, and inclusion in the music sector to get inspired (see here).

More about Black & Irish

The mission of Black and Irish™ is to advocate for the Black community in Ireland, build and connect all Black communities with wider Irish society and educate everyone in Ireland to adopt an anti-racist mindset.

More info about Black & Irish here.

More about IMPALA’s Changemaker Award
This award puts the spotlight on projects which champion work on equity, diversity and inclusion. It’s part of IMPALA’s charter commitments and is selected yearly by IMPALA’s task force. Launched in May 2022, the award highlights projects that have an impact on the independent music sector in terms of making change happen and inspiring others to take action. It takes place yearly during European Diversity Month. Check our changemakers webpage on winners and other projects, to get inspired and take action. More info on the award here.


IMPALA was established in 2000 and now represents over 6000 independent music companies in Europe. 99% of Europe’s music companies are small, micro and medium businesses and self-releasing artists. Known as the independents, they are world leaders in terms of innovation and discovering new music and artists – they produce more than 80% of all new releases and account for 80% of the sector’s jobs. IMPALA’s mission is to grow the independent music sector sustainably, return more value to artists, promote diversity and entrepreneurship, improve political access, inspire change, and increase access to finance. IMPALA works on a range of key issues for its members, runs various award schemes and has a programme aimed at businesses who want to develop a strategic relationship with the European independent sector – Friends of IMPALA.

IMPALA – Independent Music Companies Association

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