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/non-binary musicians and bands to improve the diversity of the festival’s line-up.
Running July 29-31, 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.
Splendid Events’ Eddie Barcan, Underneath the Stars’ programmer, said: “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.”
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.
Emma Holling, festival director, said: “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.”
Returning for 2022, Underneath the Stars will have two covered stages beneath big top tents, so festivalgoers are guaranteed to enjoy classic Underneath the Stars live music performances without an umbrella. The tents will have no walls ensuring an unrestricted view of the two main stages for festivalgoers sat outside, and better ventilation for those inside. Plus, with a new layout and standing areas, audiences have the perfect spots for dancing in their wellies!
Championing diversity, and accessibility, the festival has also gained an Attitude is Everything Silver Charter Award.