- 04 May 18
From the success of the #MeToo movement to highlighting male-dominated line-ups, fans and festival organisers are finally waking up to the fact that women are vastly under-represented across the music industry. Melvin Benn, Managing Director of Festival Republic, is pioneering a new initiative called ReBalance, which he believes will contribute to fixing this endemic problem.
Just before the start of Electric Picnic in 2017, your Hot Press correspondent spoke to Radio 1 DJ Annie Mac about her appearance at the festival. One of the most articulate voices in the music industry, our conversation invariably expanded beyond her own music to to an issue which the Dublin DJ had been vocal about for a long time – the under-representation of women on festival line-ups.
“It’s very slowly improving,” she told us at the time. “Although I wouldn’t consider it being anywhere close to being fully addressed. Interestingly, Melvin Benn has announced that he’s making efforts to do something about gender imbalance. He’s launching a new programme that aims to give opportunities to female artists and bands.”
Back then, Melvin Benn’s ‘ReBalance’ scheme was in its infancy. Benn – head of Festival Republic, a company that oversees numerous festivals, including Reading & Leeds, Wireless, Latitude/Longitude and Electric Picnic – partnered with a music charity called the PRS Foundation. ReBalance aimed to give a different female artist, or female-led band, a week’s worth of studio time every month (they would also be provided with travel and accommodation). The initiative was met with tentative approval when it was announced, even though the full details hadn’t been ironed out.