The IMRO sponsored pioneering international gender balance initiative, Keychange, has received funding of €1.4million from the Creative Europe programme of the European Union, which will ensure Keychange continues to accelerate change and create a better, more inclusive music industry for present and future generations.
The new programme will span September 2019 to September 2023. More details of the second phase of the programme will be unveiled at Reeperbahn Festival 2019, which takes place Wednesday 18th September – Saturday 21st in Hamburg, Germany. Keychange ambassadors Kate Nash and Joy Denalane, as well as Barbara Gessler (European Commission), Alexander Schulz (Keychange co-founder and CEO of Reeperbahn Festival) will present details of “Keychange 2.0“ on Thursday 19th September at 11.00 am.
The initiative founded by PRS Foundation has expanded with like-minded European partners and sponsors who believe that the future of music will benefit from a more balanced representation of all genders across all aspects of the industry. Reeperbahn Festival will lead the second phase of Keychange, working closely alongside PRS Foundation (UK), Musikcentrum Öst (Sweden), Iceland Airwaves (Iceland), Tallinn Music Week / Shiftworks (Estonia) and BIME Festival (Spain). The new partners are Ireland Music Week (Ireland), Oslo World Festival (Norway), Linecheck Festival / Innovation Hub (Italy), and SACEM (France). Key sponsors include – Gorwelion Horizons, SOCAN, Soundcloud, STIM, STEF, IMRO, GEMA, Songtrust, Fundacion SGAE, Factor, British Council, Ableton, Smirnoff Equalizer, and Roskilde.
Originally set up as a talent development programme for 60 artists and innovators, Keychange has quickly become a global movement for festivals which want to demonstrate their commitment to achieving a better gender balance across their stages for the next generation of artists and fans.
Since launching in September 2017, over 250+ music organisations from all over the world have signed the Keychange pledge towards achieving a 50/50 gender split across line-ups, conferences and commissions by 2022. In November 2018 the initiative undertook a landmark step towards achieving its goal of encouraging a gender-balanced music industry worldwide. In collaboration with key festival partners, Keychange presented a manifesto for change at the European Parliament in Brussels, with the aim of increasing and sustaining representation of marginalised genders in the music industry.
Earlier this year Keychange extended the initial 50/50 festival pledge to include conservatoires, orchestras, broadcasters, concert halls, agents, labels and any music organisations to encourage a better gender balance in the music industry. Over 60 leading music industry organisations have signed the extended pledge so far, including: Royal Opera House, English National Opera, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, Southbank Centre, Bella Union and the Barbican as well as German based record label Ferryhouse Productions and radio station ByteFM. Spanning over three years, the second phase of the programme will see Keychange empower a new network of women, trans and non-binary artists and innovators to showcase and collaborate across the music industry, in the UK, Europe and North America.
Keychange stimulates talent development, exchange and innovation by creating new international opportunities for performance, creative collaboration and capacity building amongst women, trans and non-binary musicians and innovative industry professionals who are pushing the boundaries of their practice. The aim is to lead inclusive debate and action which promotes the role of underrepresented genders in music and the potential creative and economic contribution they could be making to Europe’s music industry.
Having recently spoken out about her previous experiences of the music industry, Kate Nash says: “Pop culture feels so far ahead but the reality of how a lot of people live every day is way behind that. So, it does make sense, that we are dealing with these problems because the archaic structures are so hard to knock down and it changes so much of the way the world is run, so it is like a slow burn really. It is like in the movie “Shawshank Redemption” when he like scratches his way out of that prison and it takes years, because it is just scratch by scratch. I think I would like to be one of the scratches, so eventually someone will burst into the tunnel. But at the moment it’s about being a scratch. Because without each of those scratches we will never get there!”
Christina Schäfers, Head of Reeperbahn Festival‘s programmes in arts, word and film, has recently been appointed Project Lead for Keychange. Having worked on the initiative from the beginning, Christina will now take the lead at a superior level for the mandate of the European Commission, as well as work across tasks and topics that go beyond the EU funded activities.
Christina Schäfers, Head of Reeperbahn Festival Arts Programme says: “The transformative power of Keychange is visible and increasing: Talented, smart and extremely well connected people and organizations join forces for the shared idea, that diversity is culturally enriching and economically more successful. Within the next four years we’ll focus on concrete aims and measures to keep on creating a better, more inclusive music industry. Since culture has always been a source of inspiration for necessary change, we look forward to inspiring and be part of the future of our society.”