PRS Foundation’s International Keychange initiative gathersed politicians, artists and the music industry at the Canadian High Commission on the 26th February to celebrate a milestone moment on the journey to decreasing the gender gap in music. In a pioneering move, 45 international music industry conferences and festivals including four leading Canadian events have made a pledge towards achieving or maintaining a 50/50 gender balance across their festivals by 2022 (including live line-ups, conferences and commissions). They are:
53 Degrees North (England), Aldeburgh Festival (England), Blissfields (England), Bluedot (England), Borealis (Norway), BreakOut West (Canada), By:Larm (Norway), Canadian Music Week (Canada), Cheltenham Jazz Festival (England), Cheltenham Music Festival (England), Eurosonic Noorderslag (Netherlands), FOCUS Wales (Wales), Granada Experience (Spain), Hard Working Class Heroes (Ireland), Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival (England), A2IM Indie Week (USA), BBC Music Introducing Stages (UK), Katowice JazzArt Festival (Poland), Kendal Calling (England), Liverpool International Music Festival (England), Liverpool Sound City (England), Manchester Jazz Festival (England), Midem (France), Norwich Sound and Vision (England), North By North East (Canada), NYC Winter Jazzfest (USA), Off The Record (England), Oslo World (Norway), Pop-Kultur (Germany), BBC Proms (England), Roundhouse Rising (England), Spitalfields Music (England), Sŵn (Wales), Trondheim Calling (Norway), Waves Vienna (Austria), Westway LAB (Portugal), Wide Days (Scotland), Gilles Peterson’s Worldwide Festival (France)
This follows the gender balance commitment proposed by Keychange’s founding festival partners which are Reeperbahn Festival (Germany), BIME (Spain), Iceland Airwaves, Way Out West (Sweden), Musikcentrum Sweden, Tallinn Music Week (Estonia), MUTEK (Canada) and The Great Escape (UK).
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.
Vanessa Reed, CEO of PRS Foundation said: “We support diverse talent across every programme we run at PRS Foundation. 40% of our grantees in 2017 were from a BAME background and 53% featured female artists. 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.”
Alex Schulz, Founding Partner, Reeperbahn Festival said: “Reeperbahn Festival is proud to be a founding Keychange partner because we recognise the barriers that women are facing in the music industry and we know that our festival stages aren’t as balanced as we would like them to be. Keychange is promoting a shift that will ultimately be good for our festivals and good for the industry as a whole. I hope that many more festivals will have joined with us by the end of this year, making this a global movement.”
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 their 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 and most recently Eurosonic to explore how men and women can work together to accelerate change and to promote role models for the next generations. As well as announcing the 60 strong network of Keychange artists and innovators from across Europe, 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.
This milestone moment at the Canada High Commission is only the beginning for the Keychange initiative as it strives to engage further festivals in the gender balance pledge in the coming months. The time for a shake up in the music industry has come. The Keychange festivals are firmly at the forefront, paving the way for progress across the industry as a whole.
High profile ambassadors of Keychange include Shirley Manson, legendary producer Tony Visconti, Madrid’s indie rockers Hinds, German singer-songwriter Alexa Feser, Publisher Paulette Long OBE and more. Garbage’s Shirley Manson says: “I remain utterly outraged by the depressing statistics surrounding female representation in every aspect of the global music business. I am exceedingly grateful to the PRS Foundation for their initiative in trying to put this to rights for we absolutely and urgently MUST put it to rights. 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. “
Alongside the festival campaign, Keychange is supporting a network of artists and innovators who are invited to international festivals to take part in a series of showcases, collaborations and a programme of creative labs. By investing in talent and collaborating with a broad range of music industry partners, Keychange aims to create a better more inclusive music industry for present and future generations.
Keychange is led by PRS Foundation, supported by the Creative Europe programme of the European Union, in partnership with Musikcentrum Sweden, Reeperbahn Festival, Iceland Airwaves, BIME, Tallinn Music Week, Way Out West, The Great Escape and MUTEK.
It will include, later this year, an event in Brussels at the European Parliament, at which Keychange partners will present a manifesto based on contributions from Keychange participants, partners and associate festivals.