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Over 45 Music Festivals Band Together to Fight Gender Inequality

“I remain outraged by the depressing statistics surrounding female representation in every aspect of the global music business,” Shirley Manson says

Daniel Kreps Feb 27, 2018

Over 45 international music festivals have banded together to tackle gender inequality with "a 50/50 gender balance across their festivals by 2022." Gonzales Photo/Jonas Hojgaard / PYMCA /REX/Shutterstock

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Over 45 music festivals from around the world have banded together to tackle gender inequality by pledging to achieve and maintain “a 50/50 gender balance across their festivals by 2022,” including live line-ups and conference participants.

The PRS Foundation’s Keychange has recruited festivals like Liverpool Sound City, NYC Winter Jazzfest, Norway’s Borealis, Canada’s North by North East, U.K.’s BBC Proms and dozens more to take part in the initiative.

Additionally, Garbage’s Shirley Manson, David Bowie producer Tony Visconti, Imogen Heap and Glastonbury organizer Emily Eaves are among the ambassadors who will help further Keychange’s gender balance goals.

“I remain utterly outraged by the depressing statistics surrounding female representation in every aspect of the global music business,” Manson said in a statement. “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.”

Visconti added, “I thoroughly support Keychange and its aims to empower women in the music industry. I’ve enjoyed working with lots of talented female artists so I’d love to see more young women being encouraged to make music their career. I also like the fact that the festivals are setting themselves a 5-year goal through Keychange – wouldn’t it be great for us all to see a more equal number of men and women on stages and on panels in the near future?”

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According to the PRS Foundation, Keychange is “a pioneering international initiative supported by the Creative Europe programme of the European Union which is empowering women to transform the future of the music industry and encouraging industry conferences and festivals to achieve or maintain a 50:50 balance by 2022. By bringing together like-minded festivals and conference programmers committed to positive action, Keychange aims to create much needed long-term change in live music and beyond.”

Prominent music fests like Iceland’s Airwaves, Sweden’s Way Out West and the U.K.’s The Great Escape have previously also aligned with Keychange.

“We support diverse talent across every programme we run at PRS Foundation,” CEO Vanessa Reed said. “Our focus on gender equality in 2018 aligns with the centenary for some 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.”

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