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BRIT Awards And Mercury Prize Change Elegibility Rules
Christian Eede , February 25th, 2021 00:05

Artists who have been permanently resident in the UK for five years will now qualify for nomination following a campaign led by Rina Sawayama

The BRIT Awards and Mercury Prize have changed their eligibility criteria to allow non-British citizens who live in the UK to be nominated.

Under the new rules, in order to be nominated for the Mercury Prize or the British categories of the BRITs, artists must either have been born in the UK, be a UK passport holder, or have been permanently resident in the UK for more than five years.

The changes follow controversy around the 2020 Mercury prize, after Japanese-British artist Rina Sawayama was deemed ineligible for nomination. Sawayama has lived in the UK for 26 years and has indefinite leave to remain but was ineligible because she didn't hold a British passport or dual citizenship. (Japan, the country in which she was born and much of her family still resides, does not allow citizens to hold dual passports.)

Speaking to Vice last year about her ineligibility for the Mercury Prize, Sawayama said: "It was so heartbreaking. I rarely get upset to the level where I cry. And I cried.

"All I remember is living here. I've just lived here all my life. I went to summer school in Japan, and that's literally it. But I feel like I've contributed to the UK in a way that I think is worthy of being celebrated, or at least being eligible to be celebrated."

Having confirmed the rule change with the BPI, which oversees the BRITs and Mercury Prize, Sawayama said: "I'm over the moon to share the news that, following a number of conversations, the BPI has decided to change the rules. Starting this year, artists (like me) will be eligible for nomination even without British citizenship."