EU pledges £1.3m to UK gender balance initiative amid music festival campaign

The European Union has pledged £1.3 million to a UK gender balance initiative campaigning for equal representation across the international music festival landscape.

The money from the EU Commission’s Creative Europe programme will fund the PRS Foundation’s Keychange initiative for the next four years, as it enters its second phase.

Keychange’s first phase saw it launch a manifesto for gender equality at the European Parliament in Brussels.

It also created a pledge, signed by some 250 mainly European music organisations, towards achieving a 50/50 gender split on line-ups by 2022.

BBC Proms, BBC Music Introducing Stages, Aldeburgh Festival and Cheltenham Jazz Festival are among those to have signed up.

The money will fund Keychange between September 2019 and September 2023, during which time the initiative will be led by project leader Christina Schafers.

Ms Schafers, who is also head of arts, words and film at Hamburg’s Reeperbahn Festival, has appointed an eight-strong team for the second phase.

The team is drawn from the Reeperbahn Festival, as well as the PRS Foundation and Swedish non-profit Musikcentrum Ost.

Ms Schafers said: “The transformative power of Keychange is visible and increasing. Talented, smart and extremely well-connected people and organisations join forces for the shared idea that diversity is culturally enriching and economically more successful.

“Within the next four years, we’ll focus on concrete aims and measures to keep on creating a better, more inclusive music industry. Since culture has always been a source of inspiration for necessary change, we look forward to inspiring and being part of the future of our society.”

Further details will be revealed at the Reeperbahn Festival on September 18 during a panel with Keychange ambassador Kate Nash, Barbara Gessler from the European Commission and Alexander Schulz, Keychange co-founder and chief executive of the Reeperbahn Festival.

SeriousFun Children’s Network London Gala – London
Keychange ambassador Kate Nash (Ian West/PA)

Nash said: “Pop culture feels so far ahead but the reality of how a lot of people live every day is way behind that.

“So it does make sense that we are dealing with these problems because the archaic structures are so hard to knock down and it changes so much of the way the world is run, so it is like a slow burn really.

“It is like in the movie Shawshank Redemption when he like scratches his way out of that prison and it takes years, because it is just scratch by scratch.

“I think I would like to be one of the scratches, so eventually someone will burst into the tunnel. But at the moment, it’s about being a scratch.

“Because without each of those scratches, we will never get there.”