Wireless Festival to host all-female stage after lineup backlash

Just three female acts were booked in the original lineup, which dropped to two after Cardi B pulled out due to pregnancy

Roisin O'Connor
Music Correspondent
Thursday 28 June 2018 08:09 BST
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Singer Mabel is set to perform at Wireless Festival this year
Singer Mabel is set to perform at Wireless Festival this year

Wireless Festival has organised an all-female stage following criticism of its original lineup, which featured just three women.

Mabel, Cardi B and Lisa Mercedez were the only female acts out of the 37 announced in January's lineup announcement. After Cardi B pulled out because of her pregnancy, the number was whittled down to two.

Lily Allen and Radio 1 DJ Annie Mac were among the high profile figures to call out the festival, with Allen tweeting that the "struggle is real" and Mac calling the lack of women "appalling".

Meanwhile Paul Pacifico, CEO of the Association of Independent Music, called the lineup "absurd", adding: "Half the population are female, half the people attending the event are going to be female - it seems absurd that Wireless wouldn't balance a schedule that was a bit more balanced."

The new, all-female stage will host more than 25 artists including Bad Gyal, Barely Legal, Paigey Cakey and DJ Emerald, according to the BBC.

DJ Emerald commented: "Shame it's a response to something negative, but it's 100 per cent positive and progressive."

She added: "I think that this stage we're doing could definitely be viewed as tokenism, but what are we going to do? Not have that stage there and have no women performing at the festival? I don't think that's the right thing to do."

Emerald will share co-hosting duties with Julie Adenuga. The stage was curated by Rinse FM and Smirnoff's Equalising Music campaign: a global initiative aiming to address the music industry's gender imbalance.

Melvin Benn, director of Festival Republic, claimed that Wireless originally approached around 20 female acts, but most were unable to attend due to touring and other commitments.

"We'd love to see more female acts on the the festival roster in future, however, there is a bigger industry issue at the heart of the debate on line-up diversity, with fewer female acts available at all levels," he told Newsbeat.

Wireless 2018 takes place between 6 and 8 July in Finsbury Park, north London.

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