Get female acting at festivals: This is how Breminale goes


Liluba played at the Breminale last year. Female acts are still in the minority at many festivals.

Photo: Radio Bremen | Josephine Gotzes

At many festivals, female acts are in the minority. This is often still the case: “Where there is a lot of money, men are in the majority.” Do we need a female quota?

Music echoes from the scenes across the meadow, and cheerful people tumble with chilled drinks by the water. Breminale’s exuberant atmosphere makes Bremen’s residents stroll across Osterdeich. Some slip from scene to scene, others have reviewed the program carefully. Although one question probably did not play the big role for many in the beginning: What about gender diversity at Breminale?

It may not be so obvious at first glance, but at very few festivals in Germany, women are as represented on stage as men. If you look at the raw figures, it quickly becomes clear: a proportion of men of 80 to 90 percent is the norm.

The Rock am Ring festival in particular has recently made headlines again with the fact that the proportion of women among the booked artists is insignificant. In other words, less than five percent of the lineup consisted of female musicians. Discrimination against women at festivals is by no means limited to rock music. The fact that a woman at the Bayreuth Festival in 2021 conducted an opera for the first time led to mass headlines in the media.

An increasingly noticeable counter-movement is formed

Bremen’s women’s representative, Bettina Wilhelm, sees this problem as a reason for business:

In principle, in the music industry as in other sectors of the economy, women in top positions – translated: as top actors on big stages – are in the minority. Or put another way: where a lot of money is made, men are in the majority.

Bettina Wilhelm, Bremen State Commissioner for Women

But the voices after change are getting louder. According to Wilhelm, one could recently feel a clear counter-movement through the comedian Carolin Kebekus and her DCKS festival, which only featured female bands. “There used to be a distinction between bands and women’s bands: the former by men with music for men, the latter by women for women. It’s over. Female musicians are now heard when they demand equal participation, but they have not achieved that yet,” says Wilhelm.

At Breminale an almost balanced relationship

According to artistic director Jonte von Döllen, great emphasis was placed on Breminale to ensure that the relationship between female and male actions was at least balanced. “When it comes to booking, we tend to look at the women first. It has happened automatically for a number of years.”

According to the leader, most leadership positions are also occupied by women. Immediately on the deeds, according to buten-un-binnen calculations, there is a quota of about 45 percent female artists – but this must still be treated with caution, as the artists’ gender is not directly stated.

In future, the actions will be evaluated again, and the quota will be calculated accurately, says Jonte von Döllen, who will now also determine the actual number. It is certain, however, that the Breminale program is much more female than, for example, the hurricane festival in Scheeßel, which according to counts had about 25 percent female plays on stage.

Initiative Keychange wants to restructure the music industry

Meanwhile, the Keychange movement, a global network working for gender equality in the music industry, is urging festivals to commit to a 50/50 quota for women. All appearances where at least one identified woman, transgender or non-binary person is present are then counted. 25 festivals in Germany have already joined the movement.

These include, for example, the Reeperbahn festival in Hamburg, which, according to Lea Karworth, who oversees the Keychange project there, already achieved balance last year. Other festivals from the north have also voluntarily committed to equal distribution: for example, the Apple Tree Garden in Diepholz or the Lunatic Festival in Lüneburg.

Although the timing of the corona pandemic challenged the initiative due to the lack of face-to-face events, the program was not interrupted: “We are registering exponential interest in Keychange. , who has signed Keychange Pledge, “explains Lea Karworth.

What does politics say about a binding quota for women?

For Bremen’s Women’s Representative Bettina Wilhelm, however, this is also particularly relevant, precisely because Breminale is co – financed by the city: “If there is public money involved in a festival, the sponsors must be aware and make their support dependent on that fact. that this is also an art form, that the constitutional requirement of equal rights is respected and that all genders are represented on stage. ”

It is about participation, ie participation in art and the merit of it, which must be guaranteed. Whether this is ensured by a binding contingent depends on whether the festival organizers’ own obligation is sufficient. Otherwise, there should also be specifications – ie quotas – in the music industry as a business.

The Culture Senate also has a clear position on this:

There is a consensus that a quota for women at festivals like Breminale should be considered reasonable, provided it is necessary.

Werner Wick, spokesman for the Department of Culture

The Senate, the Equal Opportunities Officer and the festival management agree that a balanced gender distribution at festivals must be ensured.

It is still unknown what changes the music industry will actually undergo over the next few years and to what extent restructuring will lead to success.

This topic in the program:
buten un binnen, 17 July 2022, kl. 19.30

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