Music Festivals, Conferences Make Push for Gender Equality

An international group of music festivals and industry events have signed on to a plan, put together by the PRS Foundation’s Keychange program, to ensure 50/50 representation of male and female artists and speakers at conferences and shows.

A significant chunk of the music industry is joining forces to take on the issue of gender equality.

This week, a coalition of 45 international music festivals, conferences, and other events announced that they would implement a plan to work toward introducing a 50/50 gender balance at the events by 2022. The initiative is the work of the International Keychange gender equality initiative, an effort put together by the United Kingdom’s PRS Foundation, which helps to fund and develop musical talent in the country.

But while the PRS Foundation has traditionally focused on the UK market, Keychange is an initiative that’s global in spirit, and the campaign has drawn support from a number of events in the U.S., Canada, and throughout Europe. Among the North American festivals taking part are Canada’s North By Northeast, Canadian Music Week, MUTEK, and BreakOut West, as well as U.S.-based A2IM Indie Week and NYC Winter Jazzfest. Some of these events are focused on the industry itself; others, like the Toronto-based North By Northeast, have festival components that draw hundreds of thousands of people each year.

In a news release, PRS Foundation CEO Vanessa Reed noted that the move for gender equality in the music industry is timed with the 100-year anniversary of some women being given voting rights in the United Kingdom.

“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,” she noted in her statement. “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 American Association of Independent Music , the trade group that puts on A2IM Indie Week, also spoke out in support of the approach, with the group’s Richard James Burgess stating in the press release: “A2IM is committed to gender equality in all its endeavors and is excited to partner with PRS Foundation’s Keychange. Now is the time!”

Beyond the festival initiative, Keychange is also working to support female artists and innovators in the music industry. Working with an array of industry partners, the artists will be invited to participate in a variety of international festivals and events put on by the organization.

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Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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