Deborah Dugan, the new president and chief executive of the Recording Academy, which oversees the Grammy Awards, has been placed on administrative leave just 10 days before this year’s ceremony following an allegation of misconduct.
“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,” according to a statement from the academy provided to EW. The Los Angeles Times was first to report the news.
“The Board has also retained two independent third-party investigators to conduct independent investigations of the allegations. The Board determined this action to be necessary in order to restore the confidence of the Recording Academy’s membership, repair Recording Academy employee morale, and allow the Recording Academy to focus on its mission of serving all music creators,” added the statement. “Board Chair Harvey Mason Jr. will serve as interim president and CEO pending the conclusion of the investigation. The Recording Academy Board of Trustees is committed to fostering a safe, diverse, and inclusive workplace, music industry and society.”
A source with knowledge of the Recording Academy’s operations told The Los Angeles Times that Dugan, who joined the organization in August, “didn’t fit in, from the get-go.” She took over during a difficult year for the Recording Academy, which came under attack over issues including racial and gender diversity. Adding to the controversy was her predecessor Neil Portnow, who, after just one woman was given a solo Grammy in 2018, told reporters “women who have the creativity in their hearts and souls, who want to be musicians, who want to be engineers, producers, and want to be part of the industry on the executive level” need to “step up.” Portnow walked back the comment with a statement to Variety, confirmed by EW, claiming he was taken out of context.
After taking the job, Dugan told The Los Angeles Times, “All the issues that Neil has addressed have led us to a larger conversation, and that is a conversation, of course, that we need to have about women and diversity in music. Where we take it and how we use this organization to effect positive change, that’s one of the questions I’m most excited to answer in this job.”
It’s unclear how Dugan’s absence will impact the 2020 Grammys, which airs live on Sunday, Jan. 26 at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on CBS.