Billy Bragg on securing gender balance at festivals: “We need to reflect society”

"We aim for as near as possible 50/50 as we can get."

Billy Bragg has said that festival bookers need to secure a gender balance to provide an accurate reflection of society.

Speaking at the NME Awards 2020, the singer and left-wing activist said that diversity was always at the front of his mind when securing acts for Leftfield – the area of Glastonbury he curates every year.

“We’ll do what we try and do every year, which is live up to Emily’s idea of a gender balanced bill,” Bragg explained.

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“When we’re selecting our artists, both for the main bands and the debate, we aim for as near as possible 50/50 as we can get. To try and reflect society as it is, rather than being just me! I’m really just the front person, our area manager, our head of production, our key person putting together the debates are all female.”

He also praised Emily Eavis for maintaining the spirit of Glastonbury, ahead of her picking up Godlike Genius at the ceremony.

“She’s helped to put her stamp on the festival, the way she’s helped to renew the idea of what Glastonbury is, the fact she’s stayed true to the original ideas of her father – working together, all those reasons,” he explained.

Accepting the Godlike Genius trophy, Eavis said last night: “Thank you so much! Thanks NME. I watched my dad pick this up when I was 16, and I was like ‘I would never do it’. But now, I’m just in so deep.

“Thanks to NME, and thanks to my dad for his support, my husband Nick and the 25 people on our table who run Glastonbury. This is about the whole team and all the amazing people that come each year. It stuns me every year, and in 2019 when we got rid of plastic, it was a huge leap forward. I looked around and thought ‘This is fucking incredible’.

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“This is for all the female artists as well.”

The NME Awards 2020 opened with a performance of ‘Deal Wiv it’ from Mura Masa and Slowthai, followed by subsequent performances from Beabadoobee, Yungblud, AJ Tracey and FKA Twigs. The 1975 closed the event with a show-stopping headline performance.

Find all the news and action from the big event at NME.com/awards.

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