Reading And Leeds Festivals boss: ‘Female bands are not sidelined at festivals’

Festival boss said there's 'abundance of opportunity' for female acts

Festival Republic boss Melvin Benn has disputed claims that festival line-ups are too male-dominated, stating “the idea that female bands are sidelined is wrong”.

Benn’s comments were made in light of research published last year that suggested women continue to be under-represented at UK festivals. At Reading & Leeds last year, which Festival Republic organise, 55.81% of the line-up were all-male bands, 24.41% male solo artists, 4.65% female solo artists, and only 0.56% all-female bands. At Isle of Wight, 54.71% of the line-up were all-male bands and 3.77% all-female bands.

Speaking to Gigwise, Benn insisted that sidelining doesn’t exist and that “there’s an abundance of opportunity now” for female acts to perform at festivals. “The idea that female bands are sidelined as a suggestion is just not there,” he said. “The truth is that there has been an historic lack of opportunity for young women to get into bands and to be in bands, and I think that has disappeared now.

“I don’t think there’s any young women thinking of joining a band now that think, ‘There’s no point, because I’m going to be sidelined’. I don’t think sidelining exists, but there was certainly lack of opportunity. But there’s an abundance of opportunity now. The truth is it will just get stronger and stronger, it will grow and grow the amount of female bands that are there.”

He added: “For me it’s never been about the gender of the band, it’s been about the quality of the band, and I think increasingly female bands, female-fronted bands, entirely female bands, mixed bands… they’re just forever on the increase now, and gone are the days where a band was four guys. That’s gone now. It’s genuinely gone.”

Benn was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award at this week’s European Festival Awards (January 14). He told NME: “It’s great to have this, but it’s like getting an award for going to work. I don’t do memories, I do tomorrow.”

He revealed Reading and Leeds 2015 will be making a big announcement on February 2.

Other winners at the awards included Arctic Monkeys, who were named Best Headliner for the second year running and clinched Anthem Of The Summer for ‘R U Mine?’.