Published Jun 15, 2016An Australian music festival has come under fire for the lack of gender diversity on its 2016 lineup. Canberra's Spilt Milk Festival recently announced this year's lineup, and of the 16 confirmed artists only one identifies as female.
High-profile draws like Flume and Vince Staples were included on the list, but Sydney-based singer-songwriter Vera Blue stands as the sole woman slated to perform.
The decision drew the ire of musician and radio personality KLP, though Blue herself didn't seem publicly fazed by the disproportionate ratio of male to female performers, sharing only excitement to be a part of the event through her Facebook page.
Spilt Milk has since issued a statement about the male-heavy lineup misstep. It reads:
Opportunities for female artists in the music industry ARE less than those for men. We have an opportunity to do something and that is what we are doing with our second round announcement this week.
Expect to see announced more female artists that we are really excited to have as part of Spilt Milk; some of whom we had booked prior to our first announcement, some of whom we were considering booking and now have, and some of whom we discovered and booked as a result of the discussion around this issue.
Gender inequality exists throughout society and we all have an obligation to help foster change, an opportunity we missed with our initial announcement. Our focus was assembling a line up that represented our musical vision for Spilt Milk, and that did include a much larger number of female artists who were unfortunately unavailable or unable to confirm by the deadline for the first announcement.
That said, we needed to give more deserved consideration to the under-representation of female artists on the line up, something we have made a conscious effort to improve as you will see in our second announcement this week.
Assembling exciting line ups for events of this nature is incredibly complex, with many different, and often competing, contributing factors. With our growing understanding of this issue, and recognising that every small step matters, we are committed to delivering more opportunities for female artists to help move the industry in the right direction.
Nevertheless, the oversight in gender parity on the Australian festival bill points to a troubling larger trend. A report from ABC's Hack noted earlier this year that EDM festivals were particularly bad when it comes to booking gender diverse lineups, with major ones clocking in with just nine to 38 percent female performers.
The authors of that same report spoke to Courtney Barnett about the frustrating state of women in Australia's music industry. "I have to kind of say things five times, or ask the same question five times," she said. "Whereas I know even the guys in my band, or my manager ask it once and not be questioned."
Maybe it's not surprising then that she's spending her summer playing festivals abroad.
Spilt Milk, meanwhile, will take place on December 3 at Commonwealth Park in Canberra. More artists are expected to be announced before then — and we can only hope that organizers are able to track down some talent that better represents about half of the world's population by then.