The director of Scotland’s TRNSMT festival has said “it will be a while” until there is a 50-50 gender balance on festival bills “because there’s far, far less female artists”.
TRNSMT’s Geoff Ellis told the BBC: “We’d love there to be a higher representation of females but there isn’t, certainly on the acts we’re announcing today.” He added: “We need to get more females picking up guitars, forming bands, playing in bands.”
At the 2019 edition of the festival, only three of the 23 acts on the main stage were women. This year, it introduced the Queen Tut’s stage, which only features female acts. The festival’s head of communications, Aarti Joshi, decried criticism that it was a box-ticking exercise and said that a balanced line-up is a “long-term goal”.
“We’re giving that platform to help more females see that kind of opportunity because you do get more of a drop-off at a grassroots level and there are less female artists around,” said Ellis.
“It’s not just about booking more female acts because if there are less of them then there are less of them to go round all the festivals.”
This year, the Barcelona festival Primavera staged a 50-50 gender split lineup, which it billed as “the new normal”. In 2018, 45 festivals signed a PRS Foundation pledge committing to balanced bills by 2022.
Glastonbury’s Emily Eavis said recently that the 2020 edition of the festival will be “as close to 50-50 as we can”.
She told Music Week: “It’s as important to have females on the bill as much as men but the pool – certainly on the headliner front – is not as big. So we have to work on that as an industry and nurture all these women coming through.”