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TRNSMT boss Geoff Ellis says women need to “pick up guitars” to get on festival line-up

“It will be a while until there’s a 50/50 balance"

The boss of Scottish music festival TRNSMT has said that women need to be “picking up guitars” and “playing in bands” in order to secure their place on festival line-ups.

Geoff Ellis made the bold statement after the announcement of the festival’s 2020 line-up, which includes the all-male headliners Liam Gallagher, Courteeners, Ian Brown and Lewis Capaldi.

From the 13 acts announced so far, Rita Ora and Little Simz are the only female acts – attracting criticism for many who are calling for a better gender balance of artists on the bill.

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Courteeners' Liam Fray, Liam Gallagher and Lewis Capaldi are all headlining TRNSMT Festival 2020
Courteeners’ Liam Fray, Liam Gallagher and Lewis Capaldi are all headlining TRNSMT Festival 2020

“We’d love there to be a higher representation of females but there isn’t, certainly on the acts we’re announcing today,” Ellis told BBC’s Newsbeat.

“It will be a while until there’s a 50/50 balance. That’s definitely several years ahead of any major festival to achieve because there’s far, far less female artists. We need to get more females picking up guitars, forming bands, playing in bands.”

Ellis says the festival will also reintroduce a women-only stage, Queen Tuts at next year’s event. 

“We’re giving that platform to help more females see that kind of opportunity because you do get more of a drop-off at a grassroots level and there are less female artists around,” he said. “It’s not just about booking female acts because if there are less of them then there are less of them to go round all the festivals.”

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His comments are in direct contrast to Primavera festival, which secured the first 50/50 gender balance across its line-up earlier this year. Charli XCX, Lizzo, Christine and the Queens, Robyn and Miley Cyrus were just a few of the female acts to perform at the event.

This year also saw Norway’s Øya Festival achieve a near 50/50 gender split line-up for the third year in a row

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