Leeds Festival boss aims to give female musicians the chance to shine

Lande Hekt from punk rock band Muncie Girls with Festival Republic's Melvin Benn, PRS Foundation chief executive Vanessa Reed and Lucy Wood, also from Festival Republic.
Lande Hekt from punk rock band Muncie Girls with Festival Republic's Melvin Benn, PRS Foundation chief executive Vanessa Reed and Lucy Wood, also from Festival Republic.
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Leeds is set to take centre stage in a drive to find the female rock ‘n’ roll stars of tomorrow.

Festival Republic, the organiser of the Leeds Festival, today announced a groundbreaking new programme called ReBalance.

Based in Leeds, it will give a week’s recording time at the Old Chapel studios in Holbeck to a different female-led band or woman solo artist every month during 2018, 2019 and 2020.

Festival Republic will also provide each act coming through the programme with a prized performance slot at one of its live music events.

ReBalance is being backed by the music industry’s PRS Foundation, whose recent Women Make Music initiative found that women only account for 16 per cent of the UK’s songwriters and composers.

Speaking at a launch event today in the Old Chapel grounds, Festival Republic managing director Melvin Benn told guests he had devised the scheme after the Leeds Festival line-up was criticised for a perceived lack of female artists.

He said: “Something needs to be done about gender equality in the music industry.

“It’s a wider issue that involves us [the live industry] but the solution doesn’t rest only with us.

“I have decided to be proactive in changing and working towards this no longer being an issue in the future, and that’s what this project is about.

“We’ve been working closely with PRS Foundation and their Women Make Music programme alongside the Old Chapel to pull together this exciting new initiative.

“ReBalance will enable future, and current female musicians within the industry, to have the support they need in order to be recognised.

“This is a project that gives a step up from start to finish.”

The programme will be open to acts from across the UK and successful applicants will receive accommodation in Leeds while they are recording.

It will also have a separate studio training aspect, with two ideally female apprentices learning from and working with the in-house engineers at the Old Chapel over its three-year period.

PRS Foundation chief executive Vanessa Reed said she was “delighted” by Festival Republic’s efforts to address music’s gender imbalance.

She added: “I’m also pleased that this is happening in Leeds, acknowledging the importance of promoting infrastructure and opportunities for talent development outside of London.”

The Holbeck studio has been used in the past by well-known bands such as Kaiser Chiefs, Embrace and The Pigeon Detectives.

The 2017 Leeds Festival will take place at Bramham Park near Wetherby over this month’s Bank Holiday weekend and will feature acts including Muse, Liam Gallagher, Kasabian and Eminem.

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