New Push to Achieve 50/50 Gender Balance in Irish Music Festivals

Maria Kelly performing at Hard Working Class Heroes 2018.

New Push to Achieve 50/50 Gender Balance in Irish Music Festivals

IMRO now sponsoring Keychange campaign; Hard Working Class Heroes to host panel next year to highlight issue of gender balance in festivals.

The Irish Music Rights Organisation has announced that it is now contributing as a sponsor to the Keychange international gender balance campaign for the music industry. One of the main aims of Keychange is to encourage more festivals to achieve a 50/50 gender balance in programming by 2022. 

The Hard Working Class Heroes festival, which takes place every autumn in Dublin, was the first to achieve gender balance, in 2017, and again this year. In its 2019 edition (3–5 October), HWCH will host a Keychange panel to highlight the issue.

Central fund
Keychange encourages festivals to achieve balance in two ways, firstly by encouraging sign-up to its 2022 objective, and also through supporting the programming of female artists through a central fund that collection agencies, such as PRS for Music and IMRO, contribute to.

It means not only that festivals in Ireland can access support to programme more female artists from home and abroad, but international festivals can also be supported to programme Irish female artists in their events.

 IMRO Chairperson Eleanor McEvoy said,

International collaboration is essential to the creative and business development of all talented artists and the music industry’s future success. Enabling more women access to international networks and new markets at critical stages in their career will help them realise their potential as future leaders of an industry that is ready for and will benefit from change.  

According to figures from Keychange, women represent 20% or less of composers and songwriters registered with the participating collecting societies, and in 2017, women comprised 26% of festival line-ups in the UK and 10% in the US.

Commenting on the Keychange initiative, Angela Dorgan, Director of Hard Working Class Heroes, said

Ireland has been supporting the Keychange initiative through the work of Hard Working Class Heroes who have joined as the Irish participating festival to grow the initiative further around the world. As part of the official sign up, HWCH achieved 50:50 gender balance in 2017 and 55:45 in 2018. We look forward to the artists and professionals from Ireland benefitting from this scheme and look forward to widening network and showcase opportunities to other artists and professional who will visit us in Ireland.

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Published on 12 December 2018

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