Over the past couple of weeks, the internet has been awash with criticism around festivals like Bluesfest and Unity for offering limited diversity in their lineups. Today, Fairgrounds – the “carnival of music and discovery” that happens “a little south of Sydney” in Berry, NSW – showed just how to produce a lineup with true gender parity (53% being non cis-male fronted acts), featuring artists from all over the world, of a variety of backgrounds.
They even did a great job of representing artists from around Australia. To name but a few, WA is well represented in Pond and Carla Geneve, Tasmania with Maddy Jane, NSW with Body Type and Winston Surfshirt (among others), Tia Gostelow from QLD, Courtney Barnett and Oh Pep! out of VIC and many, many more.
The iconic Meredith Music Festival was also announced today, also featuring 53% of acts with a non-male member – with headliners The Breeders, who are also playing Fairgrounds, alongside a diverse lineup of acts like Sampa The Great (also is also playing Fairgrounds), The Presets, Laura Jean, Panda Bear, The Pharcyde, The Native Cats and many, many more.
But they’re far from the only festivals to strive for and achieve this balance. Earlier this year, Queenscliff Music Festival announced a lineup that also hit the 53% mark. Yours and Owls‘ stellar lineup in Wollongong hit the mark at 48%, with two of its three headliners (Angus & Julia Stone and Alison Wonderland) featuring at least one non-male member. And Festival of the Sun‘s 15th Anniversary lineup hit 48% with the likes of Clowns, CLYPSO, Tkay Maidza and Boat Show joining co-headliner Vera Blue.
By comparison, Bluesfest was at 15% in their first announcement, with no women of colour represented, and Unity was at 24%. Which, to their credit, was an improvement on last year amidst a genre unbalanced in its very nature, and their removal of I Killed The Prom Queen amidst criticism has to be applauded.
So for all the criticism of these festivals (among others), we wanted to take a moment and celebrate the festivals that are delivering incredible, diverse lineups, with most of the events certain to be sell outs (Yours and Owls already sold out of just about all ticket types), proving anyone wrong who says that gender balanced lineups can’t sell tickets, or that “the talent isn’t there”.
While criticism of festivals that don’t achieve similar diversity is well warranted, celebration around the festivals who do strive for, and achieve gender parity in their lineups is just as important.
If the reason we criticise festivals is because a lack of balance (or at the very least, a lack of striving to balance), sends the message that artists of certain colours or genders have less opportunities or worth than others, I’m of the opinion that we should take just as much time to celebrate the festivals and events that show that these opportunities are indeed already there. And if the next generation of musicians can see that the opportunities are there, the quality of music they’ll produce is going to be more exciting than anything we’ve ever heard before. Surely that’s something that everyone wants?
Fairgrounds 2018 Lineup:
Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever
Sampa The Great
The Teskey Brothers
Fairgrounds Festival takes place in Berry, NSW on Friday 30th November and Saturday 1st December. For tickets and more details head to their official website.
Meredith Music Festival Lineup:
Sampa The Great
Mental As Anything
The Native Cats
Time For Dreams
Zeitgeist Freedom Energy Exchange
DJ Lady Erica
Scott & Charlene’s Wedding
The Seven Ups
Meredith takes place in Victoria from Friday 7th to Sunday 9th December. Enter the ballot to attend HERE.
Photo: Press Club performing at Fairgrounds 2017 – Photo by Bruce Baker