Belmont University Presents ‘Minding the Gap: A Diversity in Entertainment Symposium’ Sept. 27

One-day event features industry creatives, executives for timely dialogue

Head shots of several Diversity Symposium participants
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.

With the goal to heighten awareness of gaps in diversity and inclusion in the entertainment industry, Belmont University’s Curb College of Entertainment and Music Business will host a day-long symposium on diversity in entertainment. Titled “Minding the Gap,” a series of six open-to-the-public panel presentations will examine gaps in the industry, both artistically and in terms of executive decision-making, in order to create a solution-oriented dialogue.

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.”

The schedule for the “Minding the Gap: A Diversity in Entertainment Symposium” can be found below–all events will take place in the Frist Lecture Hall, on the fourth floor of the Inman Health Sciences Center:

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

Moderator: Dr. Cheryl Carr, associate dean of the Curb College

Confirmed Panelists:
Jackie Patillo, Gospel Music Association president and executive director
Coady Rapp, Creative Artists Agency human resources executive
Eryka Hammonds, Universal Music Group senior manager of global streaming marketing programming

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
Lauren Ponto, programming manager, Nashville Film Festival
Dr. Haerin Shin, assistant professor of English, Vanderbilt University

“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.