Yorkshire festival leads the way in gender balance with 50/50 artist split and all female headline-bill

Underneath the Stars festival is leading the march for gender balance at festivals, with a 50/50 artist split in its final music line-up and an all-female headline bill.
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Running from July 29-31, the festival at Cinderhill Farm in Barnsley will see Imelda May headline on Friday, followed by Kate Rusby on Saturday and Suzanne Vega on Sunday.

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

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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.

Kate RusbyKate Rusby
Kate Rusby

Underneath the Stars Programmer Eddie Barcan 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.”

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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.

Imelda May.Imelda May.
Imelda May.
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Festival Director Emma Holling says: “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.”

Headlining the family favourite event on Friday is Imelda May. One of Ireland’s most celebrated female artists, Imelda has performed with Bono, Tom Jones, Noel Gallagher, Elvis Costello and Van Morrison, and joins Underneath the Stars for 2022, performing favourite hits and songs from her extraordinary album, 11 Past the Hour.

Suzanne VegaSuzanne Vega
Suzanne Vega

Closing the weekend in spectacular fashion, Suzanne Vega will mark the final performance of Underneath the Stars 2022. Regarded as one of the foremost songwriters of her generation, her self-titled debut album sold 1 million copies with her follow-up Solitude Standing nominated for three Grammys, including Record of the Year.

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For artists’ day splits, visit: https://underneaththestarsfest.co.uk/lineup/

Returning for 2022, Underneath the Stars will have two covered stages beneath big top tents, so festival-goers 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 festival-goers 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.

As well as diversity, organisersd also champion accessibility, with the festival gaining an Attitude is Everything Silver Charter Award. AIE is a disability-led charity supporting non-profit and commercial organisations to make what they do more accessible and inclusive for Deaf and disabled people. Its Charter improves Deaf and disabled people’s access to live music by working in partnership with audiences, artists, and the music industry.

Weekend tickets are now available to buy from: https://underneaththestarsfest.co.uk/tickets/