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The 1975 commit to only playing festivals with an equal balance of women and non-binary acts

Vic Parsons February 13, 2020
The 1975 commit to only playing festivals with equal gender balance

Matthew Healy of The 1975 performs at St Jerome's Laneway Festival on February 08, 2020 in Melbourne, Australia. (Mackenzie Sweetnam/Getty Images)

The 1975 have committed to only playing gender-balanced music festivals, saying “this is how male artists can be true allies”.

Frontman Matt Healy made the pledge following criticism of Reading and Leeds festival, whose lineup is – as usual – heavily dominated by male acts.

The Brit-award-winning band was responding to a call by The Guardian’s deputy music editor, Laura Snapes, for the band to “add a condition to your rider that says you’ll only play festivals that commit to X% (ideally 50%!) acts that include women and non-binary performers”.

“Take this as me signing this contract–- I have agreed to some festivals already that may not adhere to this and I would never let fans down who already have tickets,” Healy replied.

“But from now I will and believe this is how male artist can be true allies.”

Healy added: “I’m sure my agents are having kittens right now but time’s up man people need to act and not chat.”

The 1975’s decision comes in the wake of the Reading and Leeds lineup announcement, which named the first 91 artists confirmed to be playing the festival. Just 20 of the named artists are female or are bands that feature women.

And only three of the 18 main-stage acts announced include women.

Snapes criticised the line-up and argued that bands need to “use their leverage to demand equality on the bill”.

Healy told The Guardian that this issue of inclusivity and representation at music festivals is important “because the people that go to them feel more included and more represented. It’s as simple as that. All the best art for me made me feel personally addressed”.

He added that Melvin Benn, the Reading and Leeds festival promoter, had helped The 1975 carry out environmental initiatives around their 2019 headline sets at the festival. If it was possible to make environmental changes on this scale, Healy said, and “they have the will to do it that goes outside of personal gain” then it was also possible to tackle the issue of gender inequality on lineups.

“It’s all about action,” he said. “When it comes to big sociopolitical issues and governments are involved, sometimes action or protest can just be ignored. But when it comes to the music industry, we can change that. It’s not a geopolitical nightmare: it’s the music industry, and it’s something that if everyone gets on board, we can fix.”

More: matt healy, reading and Leeds festival, the 1975

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