TRNSMT festival boss claims more women need to ‘pick up guitars’ to get on lineups

Organiser also said it would be 'years' before major festivals achieve 50/50 gender parity on their lineups, despite Primavera festival managing it this year

Roisin O'Connor
Wednesday 27 November 2019 10:05
Little Simz is one of just two women among the 13 acts announced so far for TRNSMT festival
Little Simz is one of just two women among the 13 acts announced so far for TRNSMT festival

The boss of Scottish music festival TRNSMT has claimed more women need to be “picking up guitars” and “playing in bands” in order to get on festival lineups.

Geoff Ellis made the comments following the announcement of the festival’s 2020 billing, which includes acts such as Courteeners, Liam Gallagher, Foals, Keane, Lewis Capaldi and Ian Brown.

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

“We’d love there to be a higher representation of females but there isn’t, certainly on the acts we’re announcing today,” Ellis told BBC’s Newsbeat.

“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.”

Ellis’s solution has been to introduce a women-only stage, Queen Tuts, which will return at next year’s event. At the 2019 festival, a spokesperson was forced to deny it was a “box-ticking exercise” to improve the festival’s reputation for poor representation of non-white male acts.

“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 grassroots level and there are less female artists around,” he said. “It’s not just about booking female acts because if there are less of them then there are less of them to go round all the festivals.”

Ellis’s claim regarding the time it will take to achieve 50/50 lineups is disputed by the fact that in 2019, one of Europe’s biggest festivals, Primavera in Barcelona, achieved a 50/50 gender balance across its lineup, becoming the first major festival to do so.

Among the women to appear on the bill were Lizzo, Charli XCX, FKA twigs, Christine and the Queens, Robyn, Miley Cyrus (who replaced Cardi B after she was forced to pull out), Janelle Monae, Liz Phair, Kate Tempest, Helena Hauff and Julia Holter.

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