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TRNSMT: Gender-balanced festival line-ups ‘several years’ away

The boss of Scotland’s TRNSMT has said it will be “several years” before a festival line-up can have 50/50 balance between male and female acts.

Festival director, Geoff Ellis, says more women need to be “picking up guitars” and “playing in bands”.

He made his comments as the first acts for TRNSMT 2020 were announced.

“We’d love there to be a higher representation of females but there isn’t, certainly on the acts we’re announcing today,” he said.

“It will be a while until there’s a 50/50 balance. That’s definitely several years ahead for 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”.

‘There are less female acts to go around’

Courteeners, Ian Brown, Liam Gallagher, Foals, Keane and Lewis Capaldi are some of the male artists announced for TRNSMT.

Of the 13 acts announced for 2020, just two are female – Rita Ora and Little Simz.

Geoff says Rita is already an “arena level act” and that Little Simz will be one in the future – and hinted that more females will be added in future announcements.

“There’s definitely more to come – they’re just not over the line yet,” he added

The festival’s Queen Tut’s stage – which is for only female acts – will return at next year’s event.

“We’re giving that platform to help more females see that kind of opportunity because you do get more of a drop-off at a grass roots level and there are less female artists around,” said Geoff.

“It’s not just about booking more female acts because if there are less of them then there are less of them to go round all the festivals”.

When Queen Tut’s was launched this year, a spokesperson for the festival hit back at claims it was a “box-ticking exercise”.

“We in no way want to segregate women or put them on a different stage – that is not the intention,” said Aarti Joshi, the festival’s head of communications, in July 2019. She added that having a balanced line-up is a “long-term goal” for TRNSMT.

In 2018, 45 festivals signed a pledge to have 50/50 festivals by 2022 – but TRNSMT was not one of them.

In June this year, Primavera Sound (which takes place in Barcelona) became the first major festival to achieve a 50/50 line-up.

Lizzo, FKA Twigs, Janelle Monae, Christine and the Queens, Robyn and Sigrid were some of the big names who performed at the Spanish festival.

“It’s not difficult once your mind is set – when you decide that you want to do this, you start looking for female bands and see that you have been listening to them during the last month,” Primavera’s Marta Pallares Olivares told Newsbeat at the time.

TRNSMT festival will take place on 10-12 July 2020.

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