ARIA to hold virtual awards ceremony, remove gendered categories

The Best Male and Female Artist categories have been replaced with a non-gendered Best Artist award

The ARIA Awards will proceed later this year, with organisers opting for a live-streamed event instead of an in-person ceremony.

The ceremony will be held on Wednesday November 24 in Sydney and live-streamed on YouTube.

In a statement, ARIA chief executive Annabelle Herd said lockdowns and interstate border restrictions meant “it is just not possible to come together for an in-person event”.

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“Having said that, COVID will not stop us from recognising the outstanding achievements of ARIA Award nominees in 2021 and spotlighting the strength and resilience of our amazing local music industry,” she said.

“Even after an extremely difficult year, nothing can keep this industry down, and we hope to capture and pay homage to that spirit through the premium digital show that we have planned for this unique year.”

Last year’s ARIA Awards also went ahead without a physical audience.

Additionally, organisers have abolished the categories for Best Female Artist and Best Male Artist, replacing them with a non-gendered Best Artist category. The number of nominees in this category will expand from the usual five to ten.

“The time for separating artists based on gendered categories that exclude non-binary artists altogether has passed,” Herd said. “The music industry is demanding a more equal, inclusive, safe and supportive space for everyone and ARIA is working hard to achieve that across the ARIA Awards and everything we do.”

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The Producer and Engineer of the Year categories will also be amended to allow relevant artists to be nominated for a body of work, as opposed to a single record.

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