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Festivals have ‘a duty’ to offer diversity in their line ups

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Music festivals have ‘a duty’ to offer diversity in their line ups and bills, a music promoter has said.

Tamsin Austin from the Summertyne americana festival made the comments as part of a panel at the Americana Music Association (AMA) UK conference exploring the live music and festival scene for the genre.

She said that while the wider music industry appears to have ongoing concerns around diversity and gender splits on line ups and bills, the americana scene is almost the opposite.

Tamsin said: ‘I know the story from Leeds and Reading Festivals only having two female artists in their bill. If I had compiled the same statistics for our event, it would have been totally the opposite.

‘Diversity is an essential consideration for a festival programmer and this goes beyond gender but ethnic diversity too. You have to think about it and I think festival promoters have a duty to think about it. It doesn’t mean to sound like it’s a dutiful thing but it just is, it’s 2017 and you need to look at your programming and make sure you’ve got a balance. It’s not healthy to do otherwise.’

Paul Spencer from the Maverick Festival agreed, saying: ‘I always find that there are a lot of great female artists out there – always. To the extent where I usually sometimes think I need to add more men to the bill.’

The panel also agreed on the importance of specialist festivals as ‘incubators’ for new musical talent.

Tamsin said: ‘Summertyne has been a great opportunity to have amazing acts on as younger artists, then watch them grow. It helps feed a very healthy programme – it’s tough to book but we are taken seriously as an event showcasing new talent.’

Read our previous story on the importance of radio in breaking new talent.

The AMA-UK is the organisation behind the event, a professional trade association representing and advocating for the voice of American roots music in the UK.



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