Primavera Sound’s line up unviels a much needed gender balance for festivals

Primavera Sound in Barcelona is is hoping to create the 'new normal' with their gender balanced festival line up this year.

In a sea of white male bands, the ‘New Normal’ campaign – an initiative to book an equal gender split of performers – is hoping to deliver a much needed change of direction.

With the festival taking place at the end of the month, its gender balanced line up is a first, and a move admired by many in the industry including Emily Eavis, co-organiser of Glastonbury Festival, who spoke to the BBC in March 2019 about the lack of bookable women. Eavis said, "We're nowhere near where we need to be. We're making slow progress, but there's still a long way to go." Eavis added that she wanted to put a woman at the top of the bill, "but the pool isn't big enough".

But despite a lack of bookable artists, Primavera Sound has done it, and Marta Pallarès, international press manager and spokesperson for The New Normal initiative, is incredibly proud of what they’ve achieved.

Last year women made up 35% of the line up with Björk, Lorde, Lykke Li, Fever Ray, HAIM all performing at the Barcelona-based festival – and this year it’s 50%.

Pallarès argues that this is about more than entertainment, that “if we live in a world that claims that men and women have the same rights, that we are equal on every aspect –or should be– how’s that we weren’t still equal on stage?”

Pallarès claims that the ‘New Normal’ is just a first step in the right direction and that they have looked to secure a more diverse line up in general. Pallarès says “We have booked many artists with a strong speech regarding body positivity and gender, and obviously because we believe it’s an amazing lineup"

“There is so many good music made by women as the one made by men nowadays, and when you understand that the concept of a headliner is not the same today as it was in 2008, it’s easier to be convinced about what you are doing. A black R&B woman deserves as much as a white male guitar band to be a headliner –if her music is worth it, and we believe this is our case”

“We started this campaign with the Barcelona City Hall called “No Callem” (We Won’t Keep Quiet) against sexual harassment in night and musical venues, so the gender issues have been in our mind for quite a long time now.

Pallarès hope is that this will continue and that it will lead to achieving “the real normal" which in her own words she describes as "A scenario where we don’t need to state this kind of initiatives because they are truly inserted in our society.

“We didn’t have alternatives in mind, and this proves that if you want to do this in 2019, it can be done. There are no excuses. It was always going to happen”.

Major music festivals may still have a long way to go – last year Wireless Festival in London booked just three female acts – but with more calls from the industry to improve gender balance at events, Primavera Sound has proved it might be hard, but it can be done.

Want to go? You can book tickets to Primavera Sound here .

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