45 major international music festivals have signed up to be a part of a new initiative by the PRS foundation which aims to tackle gender inequality on festival line-ups.

The initiative, entitled Keychange, and its associated festivals are striving to achieve at least a 50/50 gender balance across line-ups by 2022. With summer line-up announcement season well and truly underway, and with it being painfully evident that there is still a severe lack of consideration for gender equality on festival stages, an initiative like this is an encouraging development.

Festivals taking part the initiative include Liverpool International Music Festival, Pop-Kultur, Canadian Music Week, and BBC Proms. Most of the events involved are in the areas of rock, jazz and classical music. One worrying factor to consider since the announcement of this initiative is the lack of dance music festivals included on the list.

“We support diverse talent across every programme we run at PRS Foundation”, said Vanessa Reed, CEO of PRS Foundation, who also spoke about the importance of promoting non-white performers on festival line-ups. “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.”

Gender inequality remains a serious issue in dance music and there is still massive progress to be made in tackling the imbalance both in festival line-ups and in general. Last year, DJ Mag’s digital editor Charlotte Lucy Cijffers wrote about where female identifying DJs/producers/promoters currently stand in dance music and how the landscape has changed in recent years.

In our January UK issue, five women in the industry spoke out their experience of sexual harassment in dance music. Last week, Ministry of Sound hosted their first He.She.They party in order to promote inclusive in clubbing. Last month, Steve Aoki said in an interview that more needs to be done by male DJs to make room for females in the industry.

For more info on Keychange go here.

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