Female Only Festivals? Only 29% of Acts Contain at least One Woman
The 2019 festival season is all but over for another year. Back at the start of summer, Barcelona’s Primavera Sound was branded The New Normal with a 50:50 gender balanced line-up. This was done in the hope it would be replicated at festivals worldwide.
We wanted to see how the UK’s 10 biggest festivals measured up to this standard. We researched the number of acts containing at least one woman appearing on each festival’s poster, and then removed all the other acts to give a striking visual representation of how far the UK festival scene has to go.
Read on to find which festivals were the best and worst for gender diversity.
Latitude: 48.1% Acts Containing at least One Woman
Not just a music festival, Latitude includes all performing arts from comedy to theatre. This diversity also extends to the number of women performing – 25 of the 52 acts on the poster contain at least one woman. This is very close to the magic 50%; maybe in 2020 we’ll see this threshold broken. There’s encouragement in that the Sunday main stage was 86% female too – Latitude is leading the way for gender balanced festival line-ups.
Famous for hosting some of the largest names in music, next year Glastonbury will celebrate its 50th anniversary. Such a venerable institution should be setting an example for the number of women it features. Indeed, in the last few years it’s come a long way, with the percentage of women featured on the poster up from 28.9% in 2014. Its 50th year would be the perfect time to finally hit that 50% mark.
Radio 1’s Big Weekend: 41.4%
Until 2018 the biggest music event in Europe with free tickets, Radio 1’s Big Weekend always has a host of new talent. Unfortunately, there isn’t a poster for this event with all the artists present, so we couldn’t make this a visual comparison. Nevertheless, the level of female representation is encouraging, as 24 out of the 58 acts feature at least one woman.
British Summer Time: 39.0%
British Summer Time is held in the central London greenery of Hyde Park. This year it played host to a number of pop icons. It was held over two weekends, which is why there is also no poster for this festival. If there were, it would be nearly two thirds empty once we’d got our hands on it.
Isle of Wight: 29.6%
After the top four festivals, the percentage of acts containing at least one woman drops significantly. The Isle of Wight Festival has less than one third of its artists and bands containing women. This number drops even further if you remove Jess Glynne, who cancelled her set with only ten minutes warning, leading to a lifetime ban. There’ll be plenty of other female artists ready to fill that space and more next year.
Reading & Leeds: 23.1%
A rite of passage for students finishing their A-levels, Reading Festival has been around since the 1970s. The festival poster features 56 female acts, less than a quarter of the total. This level of representation wouldn’t look out of place when the festival was starting out in the 70s.
This year’s edition of hip-hop and R&B festival Lovebox brought together talent from both sides of the Atlantic. However, over three quarters of this talent was male. More needs to be done before everyone is feeling the love equally.
2019’s edition of hip-hop festival Wireless saw its tickets sell out in record time. All those eager fans would’ve been disappointed if they were hoping for a balanced line-up, with less than one in five acts containing at least one woman.
Creamfields is the world’s biggest electronic festival line-up, according to its organisers. EDM has been a largely male-dominated genre since its inception in the 1980s. This is reflected in the Creamfields poster, with only 7 out of the 46 DJs being women.
Download is the UK’s largest rock festival, with subgenres ranging from heavy metal to alt-rock. Similarly to EDM, women in rock have historically been underrepresented, with this obviously continuing today. The scarcity of women on the Download poster is clear, with only 15 of the 104 acts featured containing one or more women.
At Made by Oomph we have been supporting music festivals and events for many years now. We produce festival RFID wristbands- made of a smart RFID-chipped mini-card - and personalised fabric wristbands, event badges for event goers, along with VIP passes and RFID access cards.
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