45 Music Festivals Pledge Gender Equality by 2022
There's a good chance your favorite music festival's lineup will have a 50/50 gender split by 2022, thanks to a new program from the U.K.'s PRS Foundation's called Keychange. The initiative has coalesced pledges from 45 international festivals to combat gender inequality.
The participating organizations — which include founding partners Canada’s MUTEK, Iceland Airwaves, Sweden’s Way Out West, Estonia’s Tallinn Music Week and England’s the Great Escape as well as Canada’s BreakOut West and North by North East, New York’s Winter Jazzfest and A2IM Indie Week and the BBC Proms, Kendal Calling, Sŵn, and Liverpool Sound City — have also committed to making the move toward gender equality on their conference panels and other initiatives as well.
Garbage frontwoman Shirley Manson — who along with Fiona Apple recently expressed her ire at comments made at this year's Grammys by Recording Academy President and CEO Neil Portnoy, alleging women need to "step up" in the music business — is among the program's ambassadors. "I remain utterly outraged by the depressing statistics surrounding female representation in every aspect of the global music business," she said. "I am exceedingly grateful to the PRS Foundation for their initiative in trying to put this to rights for we absolutely and urgently MUST put it to rights. We are doing a great disservice, not only to women of all races and socio-economic backgrounds but to all genders, culture and society in general by allowing the status quo to continue."
Other ambassadors include Glastonbury Festival organizer Emily Eavis, artist Imogen Heap, producer Tony Visconti, indie rockers Hinds, singer-songwriter Alexa Feser and publisher Paulette Long. They'll help promote Keychange's agenda, which "aims to accelerate change and create a better more inclusive music industry for present and future generations." PRS Foundation CEO Vanessa Reed says the goal is ambitious but achievable.
"Last year, on average, women made up 26 percent of the festival line-ups in the U.K., so we're talking about doubling that in a five-year timeframe," she said.
"Our focus on gender equality in 2018 aligns with the centenary for some women being given the vote in the UK," PRS Foundation CEO Vanessa Reed said. "100 years on, the push for gender parity across society continues and with increased public awareness of inequalities across the creative industries we have an opportunity to respond and commit to tangible change in music.”