UK Music Festivals fail in commitment for a 50/50' gender balance across their line-ups by 2022

Tuesday, June 7, 2022

According to the current published line ups, only 13% of UK headliners in 2022 at the summer festivals are female acts.

Although many event organisers had previously aimed to achieve a '50/50' gender balance across their line-ups by 2022, this is not going to happen by a long way.

However, several festival organisers are stating that is unrealistic to blame all of them alone for the lack of diversity on stage, and they still insist that some degree of progress has been made.

Back in 2017, two major projects were launched with the plan of getting many more female acts on stage.

They were known as ReBalance and KeyChange, launched after a BBC study back then had found around 80% of headliners were all-male.

Move forward five years and the latest findings by the BBC shows that there's been minor change at the top of the bills.

Their research focused on the top 50 biggest festivals in the UK, taken from a YouGov survey.

Out of two hundred headline acts looked at, it found:

  • 26 (13%) were an all-female band or solo artist.
  • 149 (74.5%) were either an all-male band or solo artist.
  • 24 (12%) had a mixed line-up of male and female performers.
  • One (0.5%) artist identified as non-binary.

This year's Glastonbury headliners are Paul McCartney, Kendrick Lamar and Billie Eilish.

Latitude festival headliners are Lewis Capaldi, Foals and Snow Patrol.

One all-female headliners

Some progress has been made on some line-ups, however.

The Wireless festival headliners are all female including SZA, Cardi B and Nicki Minaj.

Reading and Leeds headliners are Megan Thee Stallion, Halsey, Dave, Artic Monkeys, Bring Me The Horizon and Rage Against The Machine.

"It's definitely disappointing," says Maggie Rogers, who will be returning to the UK this summer to perform at Latitude Festival.

"What I come to music for - as a fan and artist - is community and to feel part of something, and I think community functions at its best when it feels inclusive.

"When that doesn't happen - when the line-ups reiterate imbalances that exist in gender and race and class - it's not surprising, but it's certainly not ideal."

'You want to see a version of your festival line-ups that are as beautifully diverse as we are as a society,' says Maggie Rogers.

Maggie says "it feels awful" to look at event posters with the names of female artists so often in a smaller text, beneath those of male acts.

Well at least the likes of Billie Eilish, Beyonce, Dua Lipa and Ariana Grande have all topped the bill somewhere in the UK.

However, not all UK festivals can either fit into their World tour schedules or perhaps have the budgets to pay them to perform.