A study of headliners at the UK’s 50 most popular festivals, as identified by YouGov, has found that only 13% (26) of the 200 headline acts at the events are all-female bands or solo acts.
The findings come despite a concerted effort in some areas of the industry to address genre imbalance on festival bills. Among the major festivals this year with artist line-ups that consist of more than 50% female acts include Standon Calling (cap. 17,000) and Strawberries & Creem (10,000), with the latter’s headliners including Ella Mai, Mabel and Tems.
The events’ operators are among more than 500 music organisations to have signed the Keychange pledge for gender balance by 2022.
The study, carried out by the BBC, found that of the 200 headline acts it looked at 26 (13%) were an all-female band or solo artist, 149 (74.5%) were either an all-male band or solo artist, 24 (12%) had a mixed line-up of male and female performers and one (0.5%) artist identified as non-binary.
The study follows research published last year by insurance specialist Protectivity that found 21% of acts performing at the UK’s top festivals in 2021 were female.
In response, Association of Independent Festivals CEO Paul Reed said, “While gender inequality in music is often easiest to see on festival line-up posters, this is a problem that exists right across the talent development pipeline, with festival main stages at the very end of that process. It is an issue that the entire industry must take responsibility for. There are a number of initiatives, including Keychange and The F List that are having an impact here, as well as festivals such as Standon Calling and Strawberries & Cream who have achieved 50/50 line-ups and set a good example for others to follow.
“It’s also really positive that our latest member demographic survey suggested that 49% of AIF festivals are run by promoters who identify as female, so we have come a long way in that regard. We hope that this kind of progress and continued efforts under the Keychange initiative will soon translate to greater representation on festival stages.”
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