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Emily Eavis: Glastonbury festival ‘has to achieve 50/50 gender-balance’

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Glastonbury organiser Emily Eavis says the festival has to achieve a gender balanced line-up as soon as it can.

“Our future has to be 50/50,” she tells Radio 1 Newsbeat.

“It’s a challenge. Everyone’s finding it hard – but the acts are there,” she says, adding that past Glastonbury line-ups have “always been male-heavy”.

Her comments come after criticism that many festivals don’t have enough female or female-fronted acts on their line-ups.

Emily was named godlike genius at the NME Awards in London, where Glastonbury was named best festival in the world.

“When I look back at past Glastonbury line-ups, I realised it’s always been male heavy.

“Unless you consciously change and really address it, then it will stay the same because we’re always going to be flooded with male acts.”

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Taylor, Lana and Diana are all performing at this year’s Glastonbury

This year’s full Glastonbury line-up hasn’t been published but Taylor Swift is one of the three headliners, alongside Paul McCartney.

Lana Del Rey and Diana Ross are other female acts who’ve already been announced but, overall, an equal gender split is unlikely this year.

“I wouldn’t say we’re necessarily clean on 50/50 but we’re definitely attempting it,” Emily says.

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Getty Images

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Emily Eavis picked up the Godlike Genius award next to Taylor Swift and Billy Bragg

This week, Reading and Leeds’s initial line-up announcement was criticised by some for having far fewer female acts than male ones.

So far, there have only been three female or female-fronted artists announced for Reading and Leeds’ main stage (Mabel, Bloxx and Lady Leshurr), compared to 15 male acts.

The 1975’s frontman Matty Healy has since said he’ll only play festivals in the future that commit to achieving a more gender balanced line-up.

Emily Eavis says it’s “amazing” he’s spoken out and thinks everyone will feel “cornered” into change.

When Emily was arranging this year’s line-up, she explicitly blocked out spots for female acts, filling the blank spaces with the word “female”.

She says she had to have a “firm word” with her bookers because “it’s very easy to do the same”.

“We’ve got a long way to go, but we’re making an effort.”

Primavera in Barcelona and Iceland Airwaves in Reykjavik are among the international festivals which have managed to put on a gender balanced event.

As for Reading and Leeds, its parent company Festival Republic announced the Rebalance programme in 2017.

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Reading and Leeds

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Reading and Leeds’ 2020 line-up has been criticised for a lack of female acts

Rebalance is an ongoing an initiative to give studio time to emerging female artists, in the hope they’ll be booked for festivals in the future.

Glastonbury has one headliner still to be announced and Emily is teasing some “massive surprises” but isn’t giving anything away.

She also says that banning single-use plastic bottles at the 2019 festival has been the “most successful environmental campaign” the festival has ever done.

“It was phenomenal,” she says.

“When we started it we thought it would take a few years to gather momentum but everyone seemed to listen in the first year we did it.”

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Listen to Newsbeat live at 12:45 and 17:45 weekdays – or listen back here.



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