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Music Festivals Around the Globe Pledge to Tackle Gender Inequality

Forty-five international music festivals and conferences, including Midem, A2IM Indie Week and Canada's BreakOut West, have pledged to achieve a 50/50 gender balance across their line-ups by 2022.

Forty-five international music festivals and conferences, including Midem, A2IM Indie Week and Canada’s BreakOut West, have pledged to achieve a 50/50 gender balance across their line-ups by 2022.

The initiative is being led by PRS Foundation’s Keychange scheme, which launched last year to with the aim of improving gender equality across the industry. Ambassadors include Garbage singer Shirley Manson, record producer Tony Visconti and Spanish indie-rock band Hinds.  

Among the 45 festivals and events that have signed up to the 50/50 programme is by:Larm (Norway), Canadian Music Week (Canada), Eurosonic Noorderslag (Netherlands), BBC Music Introducing Stages (U.K.), Liverpool International Music Festival (England), North By North East (Canada), NYC Winter Jazzfest (USA) and Oslo World (Norway).

Also on board is Gilles Peterson‘s Worldwide Festival (France), Wide Days (Scotland), Trondheim Calling (Norway), Waves Vienna (Austria), Westway LAB (Portugal), Pop-Kultur (Germany) Katowice JazzArt Festival (Poland) and Kendal Calling (England) and NYC Winter Jazzfest (USA), among others.

They join Keychange’s founding festival partners — Reeperbahn Festival (Germany), BIME (Spain), Iceland Airwaves, Way Out West (Sweden), Musikcentrum Sweden, Tallinn Music Week (Estonia), MUTEK (Canada) and The Great Escape (U.K.) – in vowing to remove the gender gap in music. 

“The Keychange network of female artists and industry professionals and the festival partners’ idea of establishing a collective pledge will significantly accelerate change. I hope that this will be the start of a more balanced industry which will result in benefits for everyone,” said PRS Foundation CEO Vanessa Reed in a statement.


Those sentiments were echoed by Keychange’s festival partners, with Alex Schulz from Germany’s Reeperbahn Festival admitting its “festival stages aren’t as balanced as we would like them to be. Welcoming the initiative, Schulz said that Keychange was “promoting a shift that will ultimately be good for our festivals and good for the industry as a whole.”

“Achieving gender equality in the music industry requires the joint engagement of men and women from the entire cultural sector,” elaborated Oslo World’s Alexandra Archetti Stølen, while By:Larm’s Linnéa Svensson enthused, “actions generate attitude and it starts with talent.”

“An initiative like Keychange provides clear goals and measures for festivals who are already committed to presenting audiences with more diverse line-ups,” added Emma Zillmann from U.K. promoters From The Fields, who run Kendal Calling, Blue Dot and Off The Record.  

“By giving discrimination an ultimatum,” Zillmann said, “we’re ensuring that equality will eventually be the norm.”

Festivals 2018