Underneath the Stars Festival Leading March for Gender Balanced Music Line-Ups

Underneath the Stars festival is leading the march for gender balance at festivals, announcing its final music line-up with a 50/50 artist split including an all-female headline bill, IMELDA MAY (Friday), KATE RUSBY (Saturday) and SUZANNE VEGA (Sunday).

This year, the festival worked with The F List, a directory of approximately 5,000 UK female/nonbinary musicians and bands to improve the diversity of the festival’s line-up and is one of the first UK festivals to achieve this in 2022.

Running Friday 29th – Sunday 31st July, at Cinderhill Farm, Barnsley the festival’s ethos has always been to create a gender-balanced music bill, representing a range of artists from a host of musical styles from ska, Americana, folk, soul to brass bands and indie.

We do hope one day that an all-female headline bill will be unremarkable, and that fairly balanced bills will be the norm. Every festival of all sizes and genres plays its part in the eco-system of the music industry and I hope soon the statistics, the campaigning, the female musicians talking about their experiences, and the barriers they have faced, will have a positive impact on the diversity of all our festival stages. I’m proud to work with Underneath the Stars, which is at the forefront of striving for gender balance in the festival industry.

Eddie Barcan, Underneath the Stars Programmer

The issue of achieving gender balance at festivals has been high on the industry’s agenda in recent years, but many have struggled to meet the mark. Underneath the Stars is proudly gender-balanced, with leading female artists including, IMELDA MAY, SUZANNE VEGA and KATE RUSBY, as well solo artists and all-female and female-led bands THE BIG MOON, THIS IS THE KIT, BILLIE MARTEN, DAVINA AND THE VAGABONDS, LANTERNS ON THE LAKE, AZURE RYDER, IONA LANE, HANNAH WILLIAMS AND THE AFFIRMATIONS, TROUSDALE and KINNARIS QUINTET. The boutique festival provides vital opportunities for upcoming female artists, as well as a creating a small and beautiful venue for established artists who prefer more intimate gigs.

Led by the team who represent artists for the independent music label, Pure Records, at Underneath the Stars it is equally important for the festival to have a gender-balanced team behind the scenes, as it is to have an on-stage balanced line-up. To not only tackle the imbalance of statistics within festival line-ups, but to encourage the wider festival and music industry as a whole to become more inclusive.

Despite being a smaller, regional family-friendly festival, we have shown that achieving gender balance at festivals is possible, and every other festival should be working on making a positive impact on the diversity of all of our festival stages. We are a female-led team with a very strong female presence below this, and we share this ethos across our wider Underneath the Stars family. From our volunteers, to food and drink vendors, the family workshop activities, as well as a gender-balanced line-up of music artists, inclusivity is at the festival’s core. Let’s work together to remove gendered music genres, and improve representation at festivals.

Emma Holling, Festival Director  
Underneath The Stars Festival UK 2022 new poster