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Festivals Make Gender Balance Pledge
Joseph Mumford , February 26th, 2018 15:27

The Great Escape, BBC Proms and more sign up to initiative to ensure 50/50 gender balance in line-ups by 2022

Over the past few years, much attention has been drawn to the gender imbalance present on a number of high-profile music lineups.

Though there have been some leaps towards reconciliation in 2018, with Field Day in particular featuring a demographic spanning line-up, the progress has still been relatively minimal; derided in 2015 with a revealing mock-up poster that highlighted an absence of women on the bill, Reading Festival has not improved much since.

In response to continuing injustice, the PRS Foundation have introduced a new initiative, Keychange. Following on from last year’s ReBalance, a similarly intentioned Festival Republic programme, Keychange aims to encourage festivals to address this insidious gender inequality. 45 international festivals and conferences have already made a pledge to achieve and maintain a line up featuring a 50/50 gender split by 2022, including the BBC Proms, Reeperbahn Festival, Way Out West and The Great Escape, to name a few.

"We support diverse talent across every programme we run at PRS Foundation," says PRS CEO Vanessa Reed. "Our focus on gender equality in 2018 aligns with the centenary for women being given the vote in the UK. 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. 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."

The initiative is supported by a host of high-profile ambassadors, including Imogen Heap, Tony Visconti and Shirley Manson. "I remain utterly outraged by the depressing statistics surrounding female representation in every aspect of the global music business," says the Garbage singer. "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. I am proud to support Keychange and everything it is trying to do."

Other participants and partners of the initiative include Eurosonic (where a Keychange panel took place last year), Hard Working Class Heroes, Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, and NYC Winter Jazzfest. Later this year, Keychange partners will present a detailed manifesto to the European Parliament in Brussels.