There is no season I love more than awards season. The dresses, the speeches, Olivia Coleman being drunk on camera. All of it is beautiful and magical and wonderful to me, but this year award show season is serving up an extra treat in the form of some serious behind the scenes drama.
Deborah Dugan, the president and CEO of the Recording Academy, which is responsible for the Grammy Awards, was placed on administrative leave just ten days prior to the award show.
“In light of concerns raised to the Recording Academy Board of Trustees, including a formal allegation of misconduct by a senior female member of the Recording Academy team, the board has placed Recording Academy President and CEO Deborah Dugan on administrative leave, effective immediately,” the academy said in a statement.
In response Dugan, who replaced Neil Portnow after he was fired for, well, a lot of reasons, said hold up not so fast. Or at least, she did through her lawyer, “When our ability to speak is not restrained by a 28-page contract and legal threats, we will expose what happens when you ‘step up’ at the Recording Academy, a public nonprofit.” he said in a statement.
The “exposing” likely has to do with a memo Dugan sent to the academy’s head of HR. In it, Dugan apparently details concerns regarding voting irregularities, conflicts of interest and financial mismanagement, all of which led her to conclude that “something was seriously amiss.”
There’s a lot to unpack there, but to me it sounds a whole lot like some artists who’ve been “robbed” at the Grammys over the past couple of years might have, well, actually been robbed of their awards. Don’t get me wrong I love Adele, but I have my fingers crossed this memo might mean justice for the masterpiece that is Beyonce’s Lemonade.
It’s unlikely, but I dare to dream.
When she first took office as president and CEO, Dugan assembled a task force on diversity and inclusion, a move she hoped would help to address concerns about the inclusivity of the institution. Now it appears she may be on the outs for working to do just that. The board of trustees, which placed Dugan on leave, has hired two third-party investigators to look in to the accusations made against her. While the investigation is not likely to conclude before the upcoming Grammys, I do hope the musicians walking the red carpet get asked some questions about it - and about what they think might happen once the academy is “exposed.”