Primavera festival: ‘We’re proof 50/50 line-ups are possible’

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Robyn is one of the performers who helped Primavera Sound achieve a 50/50 gender balance

British festivals last year pledged to achieve a 50/50 gender balance in their line-ups by 2022.

But Primavera Sound in Barcelona, one of Europe’s biggest festivals, has already achieved it in 2019 – becoming the first major festival to do so.

Charli XCX, Lizzo, FKA Twigs, Christine and the Queens, Robyn and Sigrid are just a few of the names on the bill. And when headliner Cardi B pulled out Primavera managed to replace her with another big name – Miley Cyrus.

“We love music and if you love music in 2019 it’s quite obvious that it’s done both by men and women the same way,” says Primavera’s Marta Pallares Olivares.

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Janelle Monae on stage at the festival, which also takes place in Porto

She says it was only when last year’s festival ended that they decided to try and achieve an equal gender balance this year – something they’re calling the “new normal”.

“It’s not difficult once your mind is set – when you decide that you want to do this, you start looking for female bands and see that you have been listening to them during the last month,” she tells Radio 1 Newsbeat.

“I will say to all those people who say there are not enough female acts out there – because I’ve heard that – that it’s simply a lie. They are out there – because they’re here.”

A BBC study discovered that in 2017, 80% of festival headliners were male – failing to reflect the diversity of the UK music scene.

In response, 45 events pledged their commitment to gender equality, aiming to reach a 50/50 balance by 2022.

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FKA Twigs was among the British cohort at Primavera

“That’s quite ambitious but it’s achievable,” Vanessa Reed, CEO of the PRS Foundation which drew up the plans, said at the time.

“You always see that there are so many festivals who come under fire for not booking enough women,” Charli XCX told Newsbeat.

“It’s kind of funny how it’s been a conversation for so long and it’s still a problem.”

Sigrid says when she learned Primavera had already achieved a 50/50 split, she thought: “It’s about time.”

“It’s great, and it puts an example for every other festival,” she told us.

Marta admits that achieving an equal gender split at a festival as musically diverse as Primavera is easier than if the festival only played metal music, for example.

But she wants to stress that change is achievable.

“We are not here to point fingers at anybody.

“But what I can’t understand is hearing that it is not possible – because it is possible, and we’ve done it.”

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