More women must 'pick up guitars' to get gender balance at festivals, according to TRNSMT boss

Craig Simpson
The organiser of the Scottish festival, Geoff Ellis, has provoked a backlash for claiming women need to take up the instrument if they want to take to the stage.  - CAMERA PRESS

Equal numbers of male and and female performers at music festivals is unrealistic because more women need to be “picking up guitars”, according to the TRNSMT boss.

The organiser of the Scottish festival, Geoff Ellis, has provoked a backlash for claiming women need to take up the instrument if they want to take to the stage.

Headline performers for the 2020 Glasgow summer gig TRNSMT were announced this week, and included just two female artists among the 13 acts revealed so far.

Mr Ellis, chief executive of DF Concerts, explained the gender imbalance on BBC Newsbeat, saying: “It will be a while until there’s a 50/50 balance. That’s definitely several years ahead of any major festival to achieve because there’s far, far less female artists. 

“We need to get more females picking up guitars, forming bands, playing in bands.”

Rita Ora and rapper Little Simz are the only women in the festival line-up so far, with acts like Lewis Capaldi, Liam Gallagher, and Ian Brown set to perform next year.

Both the male-heavy line-up and Mr Ellis’ comments have prompted an angry response, with Scottish singer KT Tunstall among those calling for equality.

She said: “Gender balance at festivals is only ‘years away’ if you make fuck all effort to support it.  “There is a huge list of successful, popular, exceptional, exciting, commercially viable female acts and female-fronted acts available for festivals. 

“In Scotland, Heb Celt Festival have had 50% women on the bill for years, and Primavera - a ‘major festival’ - had at least a 50/50 gender balance on their 2019 line up. 

“Geoff Ellis’ statement is simply not the truth.”

TRNSMT has been held in Glasgow since 2017, and is due to run from July 10-12 next year.