A Gender Balanced Festival!

In recent years, the issue of achieving gender-balanced festivals has been high on the industry’s agenda, with many large events coming under fire for their failure to book women.

Festivals are an easy target. Line up posters state quite clearly which male and female acts have been selected for the bill. It is so easy to scan across all the names which are side by side.

There have been numerous striking images in social media, where festival posters have had all male acts removed, leaving huge spaces and a lot of names towards the bottom.

Despite some festivals coming under fire for male-dominated bookings, tickets still sell well, giving the impression that people may not be that bothered. If the event sells out, what is the reason for change?

Emma Mcgrath at Underneath the Stars 2019

Festivals provide a huge opportunity for artists to promote their work. Festivals influence what people listen to, what music they may discover, what bonds they create.

Without this platform for female artists, it is harder to get their music heard, to reach out to new audiences and create that desired connection between artist and listener. Instead of rising in popularity, their talent remains unheard and unseen. This, in turn, makes it a lot harder to be selected for future festivals.

It is time for change.

Ward Thomas at Underneath the Stars 2021

Even though some festivals are still falling short on equal gender representation, we at Underneath the Stars are looking forward to a really exciting line up this year full of diversity, and for the first time, have three female headliners taking to the stage, Imelda May, Suzanne Vega and Kate Rusby.

Headliners for Underneath the Stars 2022

Having all-female headliners was not necessarily our intention, but it was truly the best fit for our audience who are absolutely buzzing for UTSf 2022. Our programmer, Eddie Barcan of Splendid Events, has been working with Vicky Bain from the F-List, which is a directory of UK Female+ Musicians to help perfect our line-up with female talent. We are one of many organisations who are working with the F-List.

It doesn’t stop there, we have a fair balance of super talented female and male acts lined up for each day. Take a look at our line up so far.

We all have the responsibility to promote change. This will not be a quick fix, but if we can all push for more females in our festival billing, this will encourage music festivals to make it the norm for more inclusion and diversity.

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