Festivals join the pledge to tackle gender inequality in the music industry

Posted on 4 May 2018
By Ben Harding
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PRS Foundation will host a Keychange event at Liverpool Sound City today (4th May 2018) to announce that a further 40 festivals will be joining the pioneering Keychange pledge to achieve or maintain a 50/50 gender balance across their festivals by 2022 (including live line-ups, conferences and commissions).

In addition to this, a Keychange Inspiration Award will be presented to music and arts pioneer Jayne Casey best known for her involvement in the Liverpool punk and new wave scene in the 1970s and 1980s, with Big in Japan, Pink Military and Pink Industry.

This follows the gender balance commitment made in February 2018 by 45 international music festivals and conferences including existing Keychange partners Reeperbahn Festival (Germany), BIME (Spain), Iceland Airwaves, Way Out West (Sweden), Musikcentrum Sweden, Tallinn Music Week (Estonia), and MUTEK (Canada) and new UK Keychange festival partner Liverpool Sound City. For more information on Keychange please visit here.

Vanessa Reed, CEO of PRS Foundation, said: “We’re thrilled that Liverpool Sound City has joined the Keychange partnership and is hosting an event which celebrates the fact that another 40 festivals have joined since we launched at Canada House a few months ago. It’s been hugely encouraging to hear from such a broad range of independent music events who recognise the benefits of championing more female artists across their stages. Congratulations also to arts and music pioneer, Jayne Casey, our latest Keychange Inspiration award winner. I’m sure that the industry innovators and artists we’re supporting through the Keychange talent development programme will be inspired by people like Jayne. She demonstrated the importance of women’s contribution to music at a time when the gender gap was even greater than it is now.”

Rebecca Stewart of Cambridge Folk Festival added: “Cambridge Folk Festival is delighted to be part of the Keychange initiative, especially as we currently aim for a 50:50 balance on the line-up and have done so for a number of years. We want to be held up as a shining example that this is possible and that if a Folk Festival can do it, then others can too. We hope it will inspire women to expect to be up there with the best and to keep fighting. And, as we are predominately a female managed festival, we want to show that women are as successful behind the scenes as well.”

On presenting the Keychange Inspiration award to Jayne Casey, Becky Ayres, Chief Operating Officer of Liverpool Sound City, said: “Jayne Casey is a true unsung hero, a rebel and auteur who has pioneered musical and cultural change in the North for decades and has been behind some of the biggest phenomena in recent times, such as Eric’s and Cream. She was one of the only, if not the only woman in Liverpool creating and curating amazing art in a landscape dominated by men for so many years and she is inspiring to me not only for what she has achieved, but for her incredible passion and the fact that she always looks forward and embraces every generation and the zeitgeist that comes forward. We’re really lucky to have her in Liverpool to look up to.”

Keychange will also be represented at Canadian Music Week, with PRS Foundation and the Ontario Media Development Corporation presenting a showcase of Keychange artists, and Vanessa Reed participating in a Global Forum with Dr. Stacy Smith of the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, who pioneered the now viral concept of an “inclusion rider.”

In February, Keychange sparked international debate, announcing that 45 international music industry conferences and festivals including four leading Canadian events had made a pledge towards achieving or maintaining a 50/50 gender balance across their festivals by 2022.

Festivals are making a commitment relative to their own event, engaging with the gender balance pledge in a way that best makes sense to their programme and music genre, including through line-ups, conference panels or commissions.

To date, the Keychange programme has included a series of popular panels and showcases at Reeperbahn Festival, BIME, Iceland Airwaves, Eurosonic and most recently Tallinn Music Week, where Keychange brought together all of the 60-strong network of Keychange artists and innovators from across Europe for a series of showcases, workshops and discussions on how to accelerate change within the industry.

These panels have featured leading men and women including Garbage’s Shirley Manson, artist Nadine Shah, Reeperbahn Festival director Alex Schulz, President of Iceland Guðni Thorlacius Jóhannesson, PRS Foundation CEO Vanessa Reed and more.

The 40 new festivals joining the Keychange pledge are:

AMP Lost & Found (Malta) / AIM Music Connected and Indie Con (UK) / Alínæ Lumr (Germany) / Bestival – Temple Stage (UK) / Black Deer Festival (UK) / Brainchild Festival (UK) / Brighton Music Conference (UK) / B-Sides Festival (Switzerland) / Bushstock (UK) / Cambridge Folk Festival (UK) / Camp Wavelength (Canada) / Celtic Connections (UK) / EFG London Jazz Festival (UK) / Fjellparkfestivalen (Norway) / Folk Alliance International (USA) / Folk On The Dock (UK) / Glasgow International Jazz Festival (UK) / Halifax Pop Explosion (Canada) / Hull Jazz Festival (UK) / Jazzkaar (Estonia) / Jeunes Talents (France) / Looe Music Festival (UK) / Lisbon International Music Network (Portugal) / Live At Heart (Sweden) / Long Division Festival (UK) / MUSEXPO (USA) / New Music Biennial (UK) / Northern Lights Festival Boréal (Canada) / Nova Scotia Music Week (Canada) / Pete The Monkey (France) / Philadelphia Folk Festival (USA) / Relevance Festival (Denmark) / Riverfest Elora (Canada) / Sørveiv (Norway) / Subtropikal Festival (Brasil) / Unconference (UK) / VUT Indie Days (Germany) / Wavelength Winter Festival (Canada) / Wood Festival (UK) / XpoNorth (UK)