TRNSMT festival founder Geoff Ellis has stated that the fest will not have a gender-balanced lineup for “several years” because, “there’s far, far less female artists.” He also stated “We need to get more females picking up guitars, forming bands, playing in bands.” Ellis made these comments after the initial acts for the festival were announced.
Only two of the thirteen acts which are scheduled for the 2020 edition of the Scotland-based festival are female; Rita Ora and Little Simz. A few of the other major names announced for the fest include Courteeners, Ian Brown, Liam Gallagher, Foals, Keane and Lewis Capaldi.
“We’d love there to be a higher representation of females but there isn’t, certainly on the acts we’re announcing today,” Ellis explained later adding, “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.”
Next year’s festival will see the return of the Queen’s Tut stage, which is exclusively limited to female acts. This move has attracted controversy however, over claims that the move is disingenuous and a “box-ticking exercise,” which the festival denies.
“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 earlier this year. She also elaborated that having a gender-balanced lineup is one of the festival’s goals,
“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,” Ellis elaborated. “”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.”
Ellis comments echoed similar sentiments to the ones expressed by former Grammy president Neil Portnow, who resigned from his post after making a comment stating that women in the music industry need to “step up.” “It has to begin with… women who have the creativity in their hearts and souls, who want to be musicians, who want to be engineers, producers, and want to be part of the industry on the executive level… [They need] to step up because I think they would be welcome,” Portnow elaborated in 2018.