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250+ organisations commit to a 50/50 gender balance at music festivals



Orchestras, opera companies, concert halls, and record labels are set to join a campaign for gender equality in the music industry.

The PRS Foundation has recently announced an extension of its Keychange pledge, in which music festivals, so often dominated by male performers, have committed to a 50/50 gender balance by 2022. Since its launch early last year, more than 180 festivals across the world, including BBC Proms, Kendal Calling and Tallinn Music Week have signed up.

Vanessa Reed, the founder of the campaign, said its success had surpassed expectations. “We were really reassured and excited by the fact that we were approached by so many people. Fairly quickly and with no particular marketing investment we reached 100 signatories by last June and now we are almost at 200 festivals.”

Reed said the gender gap was an industry-wide problem and it was a logical step to extend the campaign to organizations that would also include conservatoires, broadcasters, and agents.

“The music industry can’t work in silos. Every part affects the other so we want to join the dots and ensure that everyone is working together towards a shared goal, which will ultimately strengthen the music industry as a whole.”

The foundation said 50 organizations had so far signed up for the extended campaign after a series of behind-the-scenes talks ahead of the launch. They include the Barbican, Royal Opera, Opera North and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (CBSO).

Alexander Schulz, who came up with the idea of the Keychange 50/50 gender pledge, and is the CEO and Founder of Reeperbahn Festival said, “In 2017, when we launched the Keychange program at Reeperbahn Festival, we also declared our intention to present balanced line-ups on festival stages and conference stages by 2022. For us it was crucial, that we have a clear vision of our goals and transparent parameters to count the change. With this initiative we installed another helpful tool on the long road towards change for the entire music industry. This is much more than we were expecting and a wonderful add on to the original Keychange program. It’s a logical step in equal measures that the initiative has now been transferred to neighbouring businesses within the music industry and the media. We are very much looking forward to see the change in a broader way.”

Festivals which signed up committed to programming gender-balanced lineups by 2022.

Signatories to the extended scheme will have targets relevant to their set-ups. That could mean for orchestras a 50/50 target of commissioned composers or balance of players or broadcasters using the pledge to keep tabs on who they use as presenters or guests on programs.

Earlier this year Keychange was awarded the Classical: NEXT Innovation Award, which is designed to place the spotlight on forward-thinking activities taking place around the world.

Building on these early successes, PRS Foundation has opened up the pledge to tackle the industry-wide gender gap after their research revealed that only 13 percent of orchestral works commissioned by British orchestras in the past 25 years were from female composers.

Earlier this year, PRS for Music announced that it has collected a record of £746 million in 2018.



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Abhishek Singh

Author: Abhishek Singh

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