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Keychanges at Cheltenham Jazz Festival: Challenges for women musicians in jazz and ways forward for equal gender representation at jazz festivals



This open access report documents the activities, findings and recommendations of a research project undertaken by Dr Sarah Raine in partnership with Cheltenham Jazz Festival on their Keychange pledge to programme a 50/50 gender balanced schedule by 2022. It offers a critique of the Keychange quota element as it relates to jazz festivals, provides insight into the experiences of women musicians active on the UK jazz scene, and (based upon the model provided by Cheltenham) offers a range of recommendations for other music festivals who are interested in becoming a Keychange pledgee. It draws upon interviews with festival staff – most notably with Emily Jones, Head of Programming (2018-2019, and Festival Manager 2013-2018) – and ten women musicians who performed at the 2019 festival. It provides an overview of the gender data from throughout the Festival’s twenty-three-year history, demonstrating the continued underrepresentation of women jazz musicians and a comparative lack of instrumentalists. Data from three other jazz festivals involved in this research project (Glasgow, Hull and Manchester) also highlight similar issues with both the Keychange interpretation of 50/50 (one woman on stage) and the jazz scene more generally. This report was drafted before the COVID-19 pandemic, however a reflection upon gender inequality at jazz festivals going forward will be published later this year. This report is a culmination of collaborative work and testimony to partnerships between academia and industry. It was funded and supported by Midlands3Cities (M3C, Arts and Humanities Research Council) as part of their Creative Economy Engagement Fellowship scheme. The issues explored in this research project and resulting report will be the focus of a forthcoming special issue for Jazz Research Journal, expected in Summer 2021.
Keychanges at
Jazz Festival
Keychanges at
Jazz Festival
Challenges for women
musicians in jazz and
ways forward for equal
gender representation at
jazz festivals
Dr Sarah Raine
Creative Economy Engagement Fellow
Findings and
Design and data visualisations by Adam Kelly-Williams
Images courtesy of Cheltenham Jazz Festival
Summary 4
Key Findings 5
Gender and the UK Jazz Scene 6
Cheltenham Jazz Festival 7
The Project 8
Project Aims 10
Findings 11
Summary 11
Data Visualisation 1 – Around Town and Youth Performances at Cheltenham Jazz Festival 12
Festival Gender Data 13
Summary 13
Data Visualisations 2 – Gender balance overview at Cheltenham Jazz Festival 1996–2019 14
Data Visualisations 3 – Gender balance overview at Cheltenham Jazz Festival 1996–2019 15
Data Visualisations 4 – Breakdown of gender and musical roles of women performing at
Cheltenham Jazz Festival 1996–2019 16
Being a Woman Musician in the UK Jazz Scene: Interview Data 17
Summary 17
Barriers in Education 18
Data Visualisations 5 – Gender breakdown of full-time sta on jazz courses at UK conservatoires 19
Knowledge Barriers 20
Access to Festivals 22
Data Visualisations 6 – Representation of gender and jazz 23
Response – Mike Flynn, Jazzwise 24
Listening to Musicians 26
Keychange and Cheltenham Jazz Festival 27
Impact on practice – Emily Jones (Project Industry Partner and Head of Programming, 2018–2019) 27
Gender Imbalance at Other Jazz Festivals 29
Summary 29
Data Visualisations 7 – Glasgow, Hull and Manchester Jazz Festivals 30
Keychange and Manchester Jazz Festival: Reflections – Steve Mead (Artistic Director) 32
Recommendations for UK Jazz Festivals in Engaging with Keychange 33
Guide to Best Practice: Diversity and Inclusion at Music Festivals – Emily Jones 35
Keychange response – Maxie Gedge (Keychange Project Manager, PRS Foundation) 37
Moving Forward 39
Summary 39
Gender Balance and Cheltenham Jazz Festival Going Forward – Dave Gaydon (Head of Programming,
Cheltenham Jazz Festival) 40
Future Plans for Collaboration and Research 40
Background information 41
Biographies and Funder Information 41
Ethics 41
Acknowledgements 42
Keychanges at Cheltenham Jazz Festival
This report documents the activities, findings and recommendations of a research project
undertaken by Dr Sarah Raine in partnership with Cheltenham Jazz Festival on their
Keychange pledge to programme a 50/50 gender balanced schedule by 2022.* It oers a
critique of the Keychange quota element as it relates to jazz festivals, provides insight into the
experiences of women musicians active on the UK jazz scene, and (based upon the model
provided by Cheltenham) oers a range of recommendations for other music festivals who
are interested in becoming a Keychange pledgee.
It draws upon interviews with festival sta – most notably with Emily Jones (Head of
Programming 2018–2019 and Festival Manager 2013–2018) – and ten women musicians who
performed at the 2019 festival. It provides an overview of the gender data from throughout
the Festival’s twenty-three-year history, demonstrating the continued underrepresentation
of women jazz musicians and a comparative lack of instrumentalists. Data from three other
jazz festivals involved in this research project (Glasgow, Hull and Manchester) also highlight
similar issues with both the Keychange interpretation of 50/50 (one woman on stage) and
the jazz scene more generally.
This report is a culmination of collaborative work and testimony to partnerships between
academia and industry. It was funded and supported by Midlands4Cities (M3C, Arts and
Humanities Research Council) as part of their Creative Economy Engagement Fellowship
* The initial findings of this research project were also published as a book chapter – S. Raine (2019) ‘Keychanges at
Cheltenham Jazz Festival: Issues of Gender in the UK Jazz Scene’ in Towards Gender Equality in the Music Industry,
edited by Catherine Strong and Sarah Raine, Bloomsbury Academic (2019).
Keychanges at Cheltenham Jazz Festival
The key findings of this research project relate to issues with the current Keychange pledge
and the gender imbalance of the UK jazz scene, and to the experiences of women musicians.
Gender Data and Keychange
Although the four festivals had each succeeded based upon the Keychange interpretation
(of one woman on stage) to reach a 50/50 gender balanced programme, they continued
to experience a gender imbalance.
Women made up at the best a third of the total musicians scheduled.
Women instrumentalists were particularly underrepresented.
All male bands continue to be a common sight at jazz festivals in the UK.
The ‘one woman on stage’ interpretation of 50/50 hides continued gender inequality
and the gendering of certain roles within jazz.
Musician Experience
Nine women had experienced gender discrimination in their experience as musicians.
Most found the jazz scene particularly male-dominated.
Three had experienced direct sexual harassment in the course of their career
Most identified barriers in education relating to the continued gender imbalance of sta
and student body, the competitive nature of informal setting (such as jam sessions), and
the restrictions of increasingly “standardised” genre boundaries within jazz courses.
The business side of their higher education courses was often missing which meant
that women had to learn all of these skills independently through trial and error.
Female artists expressed concerns that the Keychange pledge won’t mean long term
The careers of some of the women musicians had been significantly supported by
informal mentoring, industry talent development schemes and diversity-aware
Keychanges at Cheltenham Jazz Festival
‘Prior to 2017 there was a significant lack of women in our festival line-up, both as
band leaders and also within the bands’
Emily Jones, Head of Programming 2018–2019 and Festival Manager 2013–2018,
Cheltenham Jazz Festival
With numerous jazz festivals across the country, bolstered by a healthy oering of year-
round regular gigs, jazz continues to play a role in the musical identity of many UK cities
and towns. However, as with other music genres, it is clear to those involved that a gender
imbalance exists amongst musicians, audiences, industry professionals, Further Education/
Higher Education students and the sta that support them. The jazz festival programme
managers and directors that were involved in this project were keenly aware of this gender
imbalance within the scene, and their own everyday experiences of and reflections upon
this led them to becoming part of the Keychange initiative. Beginning this research project,
what was most problematic was finding data-based evidence to support the observation
that women are underrepresented.
Gender data is gathered and released by industry bodies such as the Musicians Union and
Publishing Rights Society for Music (PRS) based upon their membership. However, this
data is not clearly broken down into genre-specific groups. From the data that is available,
it is clear that the music industry continues to be male dominated; from music company
CEOs to gigging musicians. What is less clear is how these gender politics play out in spe-
cific music genres, and (relating to this) how the particular histories and cultural contexts
of these genres create barriers for women. In part, this short research project aimed to
provide some genre-specific data and a detailed case study on the UK jazz scene. In the
pages that follow, this gender imbalance is set out in the data provided by Cheltenham Jazz
Festival, Glasgow Jazz Festival, Hull Jazz Festival and Manchester Jazz Festival.
In exploring some of the key issues expressed by women jazz musicians during interviews,
I also provide snapshot data relating to conservatoire teaching teams and media represen-
tation of jazz musicians. This represents the beginning of providing genre-/music scene-
specific gender data. However, as the Keychange initiative requests gender data from
its pledgers, it is possible that such data will become more easily available. Furthermore,
through concerted reflection by festival professionals, the specific issues and barriers fac-
ing women in particular genres or scenes should become clearer. As this research project
demonstrates, it is essential that such data and insights are shared in order for barriers to
be addressed.
However, as this report will explore in detail, the data provided by following the Keychange
interpretation of 50/50 – at least one woman on stage per performance – hides continued
gender imbalances in total number of musicians and the replication of gendered roles
within jazz. Working with Keychange and pledged festivals, the recommendations made
here encourage other festivals to critically analyse the data gathered and reflect upon this
in relation to the specific nature of the genres or scenes that they engage with.
Keychanges at Cheltenham Jazz Festival
Cheltenham (established in 1996) is the second
largest jazz festival in the UK, with over seventy main
venue events and a lively Fringe oering. The annual
Cheltenham-based festivals (of Jazz, Literature Music
and Science) attracted over 215,000 attendees in 2018
and engage with 25,000 people through a year-round
education and outreach program. Cheltenham Jazz
Festival is also presented in association with BBC Radio
2 and is broadcast on Radio 2, 6 Music and Radio 3,
with a potential reach of over 25 million listeners. The
festival therefore represents a significant platform for
jazz musicians, with festival programming teams acting
as critical gatekeepers—alongside agents, promoters
and the specialist media—to progression within the UK
jazz industries.
As a registered charity that is-funded by ticket income,
commercial sponsorship and funding, the programming
and development aims of the festival are also subject to
both financial and community-focused responsibilities.
The annual programme of the jazz festival must therefore
achieve box oice targets and be in line with their
charitable) mission statement. It is within this context
that the CJF team must negotiate their Keychange
pledge and, in stark terms, ensure that the flow of talent
continues to feed future Cheltenham festivals. Alongside
these restraints of music festival programming, Jones also
negotiates the suggestions and aims of Festival Curators
– UK radio presenter and DJ Gilles Peterson, UK musician
Jamie Cullum and US musician Gregory Porter – and
long-standing Programme Advisor, Tony Dudley-Evans. It
is also worth noting that CJF programmes an ‘accessible’
line-up from across the wide church that is jazz music,
from free jazz to jazz-inspired chart-toppers.
Extract from S. Raine (2019) ‘Keychanges at Cheltenham Jazz Festival: Issues of Gender in the UK Jazz Scene’
in Towards Gender Equality in the Music Industry, eds. Catherine Strong & Sarah Raine. New York: Bloomsbury
Academic, pg 188–189.
Keychanges at Cheltenham Jazz Festival
This report summarises a ten-month (running from January to October 2019) study of female
musicians scheduled to play at the 2019 Cheltenham Jazz Festival. The project aimed to
examine the Keychange pledge – to implement a 50/50 gender balance by 2022 – launched
by PRS Foundation at the EU Parliament in 2017. The project itself was organized into two
phases. Phase 1 involved working with Emily Jones, Head of Programming, to identify the
barriers to participation for women in jazz. In phase 2, I interviewed ten women jazz musicians
on the challenges they experience in establishing themselves and moving through the scene
as a professional. The project also hoped to provide a space for discussion and the sharing of
practice. From the beginning, representatives from PRS Foundation, Help Musicians UK, and
the four other UK jazz festivals signed up to Keychange were invited to a series of roundtables
and workshops. These roundtables were also open to a range of musicians, music industry
professionals, academics, and students from the UK jazz scene and beyond. Mindful of
my own place within a particular city and my ailiation to Birmingham City University, it
was also essential to invite music festival professionals and musicians active in and around
As the project progressed, it was increasingly clear that significant gaps in knowledge
had become barriers for the women musicians who were interviewed. These related to
the multifaceted role of the performing musician: from writing their own press releases to
booking tour gigs and getting paid; releasing albums to establishing and maintaining an
online presence. As will be noted in the findings section of this report, most of the women
interviewed juggled these many roles but few had received training or skill development in
these areas; many relied upon the support and mentorship of other musicians. This skill-gap
is not a gendered experience, with men and women musicians equally struggling to keep
up with the demands of the contemporary musician experience. However, for the women
that I spoke to, this multifaceted role of the musician was stretched even further following
incidents of gender discrimination and subsequent DIY strategies to avoid additional negative
experiences. A women-led, women only musician-focused workshop was also organised in
Birmingham as part of this project, the sessions tailored around the key skills and knowledge
gaps identified within the research.
The Keychange initiative was developed by PRS Foundation (PRSF). As the philanthropic arm
of PRS for Music (Publishing Rights Society) in the UK, PRSF engages in outreach, education
and talent development. It exists within a member-led, industry-focused organization which
is also a member of UK Music, a key organization in representing industry interests and
concerns at a national and international industry and government policy level. Keychange
is an international campaign which both invests PRSF funding in emerging female talent
(initially supporting sixty emerging artists and innovators through a series of collaborations,
showcases and creative labs) and encourages music festivals to pledge a 50/50 gender
balance in their programming by 2022. As this project progressed, Keychange announced
the extension of their pledge to music conferences and educational institutions, clearly
demonstrating their awareness that the gender imbalance evident within the UK music
industry relates to streams of new talent through both formal and informal educational routes
in and the range of roles in the production and consumption of music. And in January 2020
Keychange announced their development programme, through which 74 artists and music
Keychanges at Cheltenham Jazz Festival
industry professionals from 12 dierent countries will be supported through development,
networking and mentoring sessions.
The interpretation of 50/50 is down to the pledging festival, but a ‘one woman on stage’
approach was advocated by Vanessa Reed (CEO, PRS Foundation), pointing to the importance
of female role models in the industry. As I note in a book chapter based upon the initial findings
of this project, this is an accessible and achievable target, oering festivals a level of freedom
and a starting point in addressing a pervasive and complex issue. However, as this report
demonstrates, the ‘success’ of festivals in achieving 50/50 based upon this interpretation
hides a range of continuing issues for women musicians. Such statistics should be carefully
analysed by festival teams to ensure sustained and targeted support. Providing increased
opportunities for women musicians in a male-dominated music scene and shining a spotlight
on gender imbalance is an excellent start to what needs to be an ongoing focus, but as this
report demonstrates, this push alone does not resolve pervasive issues of access, education,
support and value within the jazz scene, and most likely the wider music industry.
Whilst this project and the contributing festivals involved in the production of this report
critique the quota element of the Keychange initiative, it is important to note that each
individual and institution are very much supportive of the Keychange mission. It is also very
important to note that research projects such as provide evidence to explore questions and
issues that are already central to the planned development for Keychange in relation to both
their talent development activities and the quota element of the initiative. Through Keychange’s
involvement with this project (and others like it), it is clear that they, too, are identifying the
limitations to certain approaches and working with a range of institutions and individuals
to develop their initiative, making sure that long-lasting and meaningful changes are made.
This report is part of these shared reflections upon the successes and limitations of the
Keychange initiative and part of a collaborative eort to move towards increased gender
equality in the music industry.
Keychanges at Cheltenham Jazz Festival
To outline the obstacles facing women musicians in the contemporary jazz scene in the
To provide a public report and recommendations for other jazz festivals in relation their
Keychange pledge.
To provide insight into the fundamental challenges for women musicians active on the
UK jazz scene.
To provide a space for discussion between UK jazz festivals, Keychange (PRS Foundation),
Help Musicians UK, jazz musicians and scholars on the issue of gender representation
and the benefits/limitations of the Keychange approach.
To support Cheltenham in developing accurate gender data relating to festival
To provide genre-specific insight into the Keychange initiative and the continued gender
imbalance for use in industry and academia.
Keychanges at Cheltenham Jazz Festival
Cheltenham Jazz Festival signed the Keychange pledge in
2017, formalising their existing commitment to addressing
the gender imbalance evident on their stages. Keychange
became a focus for programming and for planning talent
development initiatives. Equally, the pledge made this
commitment tangible for the wider festival team and
oered a means for the festival to articulate the problem
clearly, both to sta and to musicians, the public and to
the jazz industry more widely. One of the main incentives
for signing the pledge was the gender imbalance of the
schedule in 2017 – 81% of the full programme (excluding
school bands) was made up of male musicians.
This project followed the programming team and the
festival schedule for 2019, the second year of the festival
after Cheltenham Jazz Festival signed the Keychange
pledge. The 2019 festival hosted one female headliner
(Katie Melua) and scheduled women-led ensembles in
the main venues, such as Yazz Ahmed’s orchestra playing
Polyhmnia in the Jazz Arena (635 capacity) and several
jazz vocalists such as Yola, Kizzy Crawford, and Madeline
Peyroux in the Henry Westons Big Top (capacity 2,000).
Emerging women musicians and gender balanced bands
– Lydian Collective and Rue – were supported through
“Showcase”, sponsored by The Oldham Foundation to
highlight the best new talent and scheduled in the Jazz
Arena. Emily Jones, in her role as Head of Programming,
also identified a number of slots at smaller venues for
emerging women musicians and gender-balanced
bands. In terms of gender data, 58% of the 2019 (paid)
performances included at least one female musician, the
second year for ‘Keychange success’ for Cheltenham.
This data is analysed and critiqued in the section below.
It is important to note that this programme-focused
intervention was part of a wider festival engagement
with year-round artist development and support, from
workshops to commissioning musicians. This support
for women musicians also pre-dated Cheltenham’s
Keychange pledge. Addressing the gender imbalance
evident within the festival’s programme and the scene
beyond has been an ongoing focus for Cheltenham and
Emily Jones. As will be noted later in this document,
communicating this to musicians, promoters, agents and
to sponsors is part of Cheltenham Jazz Festival’s plans
going forward. Finally, by agreeing to work in partnership
with a researcher and engaging so actively with this
project, Cheltenham have demonstrated their desire to
support women musicians active on the UK jazz scene.
By working with me to develop this report, Cheltenham
are keen to ensure that their support is targeted, eective,
and long-lasting.
Beyond the paid schedule, the free Around Town
programme – produced by Becky Woodcock – also hit their
Keychange target in both 2018 and 2019. As the following
data visualisation shows, 62% of 2019 (Around Town)
performances included at least one woman, matched
by 63% for the following year. However, the continued
gender imbalance of the line-up is demonstrated by the
percentages of women musicians overall, with women
making up only 24% of the total musicians in 2019 and
18% in 2018. Equally, men dominated the bands at 75%
in 2019 and 84% in 2018. This smaller example oers
us a way in to exploring the festival’s paid programme
gender data.
Keychanges at Cheltenham Jazz Festival
2017 2018 2019
50/50 Gender balance
of performances*
Gender of total musicians
Gender of musicians
for Jazz It Up Schools
Gender of musicians for Gloucestershire
Jazz Live Youth Orchestra
Male/all male
* Based on 'one woman on stage' interpretation of 50/50
At least one female Female/all female
2018 2019
Around Town
Youth Performances
2017 2018 2019
50/50 Gender balance
of performances*
Gender of total musicians
Gender of musicians
for Jazz It Up Schools
Gender of musicians for Gloucestershire
Jazz Live Youth Orchestra
Male/all male
* Based on 'one woman on stage' interpretation of 50/50
At least one female Female/all female
2018 2019
Keychanges at Cheltenham Jazz Festival
Much of the strength of the Keychange initiative is the articulation of a pervasive and complex
issue within the music industry. In relation to this, it is interesting to note that Emily Jones
had experienced a noticeable increase in women musicians being oered by agents, tapping
into the demand stimulated by the Keychange pledge. As will be explored later in this report,
this increased interest in representing female musicians is in stark contrast to the tokenistic
strategies experienced by some women in the past. The focus on increased gender equality
and representation by industry professionals as part of a Keychange pledge, or in response
to increased demand, will ultimately support the development of future women musicians.
As the data visualisations that follow demonstrate, Cheltenham Jazz Festival has made
increasing progress towards a 50/50 balanced schedule based upon the ‘one woman on
stage’ interpretation, especially since signing the pledge in 2017.
However, from this data it is very clear that women are still significantly under-represented
in terms of actual 50/50 performances and (by extension) the total musicians scheduled to
perform at this annual jazz festival. Taken alone, the Keychange gender data would hide this
continued imbalance.
The all-male band also continues to play a visible role on the jazz festival stage, in no way
rivalled by all-female bands which are a rarity. Mixed-gender bands are increasingly common,
however very few are actually gender balanced and the proliferation of an all-male band with
a guest or permanent female vocalist deserves further investigation.
If we look at the primary role of the women scheduled to perform during each year of the
festival’s life, a further underrepresentation of women instrumentalists (and a higher number
of female vocalists) is evident. This had been identified by Emily Jones and formed a central
part of her plans for talent development and educational outreach activities. The reasons for
this are extremely complex and a full discussion is beyond the time and funding limitations
of this project. However, I do consider this in relation to conservatoire sta roles, media
representation of jazz musicians and notions of value within the jazz scene, both historical
and current. This is also discussed briefly in my chapter in Towards Gender Equality in the
Music Industry, edited by Catherine Strong and Sarah Raine (Bloomsbury Academic: 2019).
This data highlights the dangers of an uncritical engagement with the Keychange interpretation
of 50/50, namely the continued underrepresentation of women musicians at jazz festivals, in
particular instrumentalists. As an analysis of the interview data demonstrates, the reasons for
this are complex and require a long-term, reflexive and sustained range of musician-focused
initiatives throughout career stages.
In other words, once ‘Keychange’ success is achieved by a music festival, the real work of
analysing the data and musician experience begins in order to provide long-term strategies
for addressing the gender imbalance within respective music scenes more widely.
Keychanges at Cheltenham Jazz Festival
Gender balance overview at Cheltenham Jazz Festival 1996–2019
By Keychange interpretation of ‘one woman on stage’
All male Mixed All female
Keychanges at Cheltenham Jazz Festival
Gender balance overview at Cheltenham Jazz Festival 1996–2019
By actual 50/50
50% or more male performers on stage
50% or more women performers on stage
Keychanges at Cheltenham Jazz Festival
Breakdown of gender and musical roles of women performing at
Cheltenham Jazz Festival 1996–2019*
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Keychanges at Cheltenham Jazz Festival
During this project, I interviewed ten women musicians scheduled to play at Cheltenham
Jazz Festival in 2019. These individuals were selected by myself and Emily Jones in order
to capture the experiences of women across dierence ages, ethnicity, career stage and
instrument played (to include voice). This sample included three BAME musicians, and three
women in their forties, three in their thirties and four in their twenties. Nine were from the UK
– eight based in London, one in Birmingham – and one was from mainland Europe. A range
of instruments were played, three were primarily vocalists, several women composed, and
five were band leaders. Two performed on one of the largest stages, five at smaller venues,
two as part of the Fringe and one as part of a BBC live broadcast. It is important to note that
the experiences of women musicians detailed within this report are those of individuals who
have achieved a notable level of success. They were all chosen to perform at one of the largest
jazz festivals in the UK. Any barriers to accessing the UK jazz scene are therefore unrelated
to the quality of their musical ability but rather their experiences as women and as musicians.
Each individual was interviewed at a location of their choosing and spoke to me for at least
an hour. Their responses have been anonymised to protect their identity. As a brief summary
from these ten interviews:
Nine women had experienced gender discrimination in their experience as musicians.
Most found the jazz scene particularly male-dominated.
Three had experienced direct sexual harassment.
Many identified barriers in formal education – in particular the male dominated nature
of conservatoire sta and students, and the formalisation of jazz through a focus on
jazz standards.
All the women relied upon peer support, informal mentoring or individual trial-and-error
to develop the skills necessary to fulfil the full range of administrative and business roles
required of a contemporary musician, skills which were rarely included in formal music
education courses.
Several women musicians expressed concerns that the Keychange pledge won’t mean
long term change for them and future generations.
The most positive experiences came through collaboration and engagement with
musician-focused collectives.
The male-dominated nature of the scene was experienced in a range of ways by the
women interviewed. For some, this was an experience of rejection and tokenism. Valerie
(instrumentalist, 40s) recounted conversations with agents who had rejected her as they
“already had a woman on their books” who played the same instrument. She had also been
Keychanges at Cheltenham Jazz Festival
asked (several times) to change in the toilets at venues that lacked multiple dressing rooms,
which she had found uncomfortable and unprofessional. Jenny (vocalist, 40s) had been
dropped from her agency when she was pregnant with her first child due to an assumption
that she would not return to work after the birth. One woman had received unwanted sexual
attention from a venue owner, and another had been told to “sex up” her album cover. Other
women had experienced issues with male technicians at gigs and festivals, who had asked
whether the women musicians knew how to set up their own equipment. These negative
experiences were fewer in number than the positives, but had in some way shaped the
engagement of these women, belittling their skills and them as professionals. Equally, most
of the women commented on the male-dominated nature of important scene gatekeepers,
roles such as promoters, agents and journalists, but equally noted the increasing number of
women festival programmers within jazz.
Beyond these particular examples of gender discrimination, three main barriers to engagement
within the UK jazz scene emerged across the ten interviews: experiences within formal
education; lack of knowledge and skills (and access to developing these); and relationships
with festivals.
Barriers in Education
“I remember when I was at uni, just feeling a bit like I always had to know what
everyone else knew and it’s sort of hard to say, ‘Actually I don’t get this, can you
help me out?’ You had to be constantly, ‘Oh yeah, I know this!’ So, I think that was
a macho thing as well”
— Laura (instrumentalist, 20s)
Three of the women interviewed had attended and another three regularly taught at a UK
Conservatoire. Each commented on the male dominated cohort groups and permanent sta
on jazz courses. Laura (quoted above) found this context diicult to negotiate, especially when
she required extra help, exacerbated by a “macho” and competitive learning environment. This
competitive environment was also identified by some of the women as existing in jamming
sessions – within and beyond the Conservatoire setting – which some actively avoided.
This is problematic as jamming sessions oer emerging musicians’ informal opportunities for
skill development and networking. As Laura noted, conservatoire cohorts also play a central
role in the formation of bands following graduation, with musicians developing a musical
rapport and shared ethos. Reflecting upon conversations with members of all-male bands
in Birmingham, it is clear that an all-male cohort is more likely to lead to an all-male network
for future projects and ultimately increasing the probability of the continuation of all-male
bands on the festival stage.
Equally, Sara (instrumentalist/composer, 40s) felt demoralised by what she saw as the
“standardisation” of jazz at conservatoires – that students were expected to “learn this many
standards and demonstrate competency in a certain amount of sort of bebop language” –
and the associated assumption that “correct” and “incorrect” versions of jazz exist. The lack of
individual exploration and experimentation contributed to Sara’s increased distance from the
jazz scene. Beatrice (vocalist/composer, 20s) also noted the low numbers of women sta at
her conservatoire, adding to an already male-heavy experience and the invisibility of women
role models for musicians-in-training. The gender breakdown of permanent members of sta
Keychanges at Cheltenham Jazz Festival
Guildhall School of
Music and Drama
Overall Average (%)
Leeds College
of Music
Royal Academy
of Music
Royal Birmingham
Royal Conservatoire
of Scotland
Royal Welsh College
of Music and Drama
Trinity Laban
Gender breakdown of full-time sta on jazz courses at UK conservatoires
Specialism of female sta across these seven institutions
Keychanges at Cheltenham Jazz Festival
at UK Conservatoires with a jazz course is provided in the data visualisation below, clearly demonstrating
the lack of women and the clear gendering of certain musical roles, most consistently the vocalist as a
“female” jazz role.
Three of the women interviewed taught at conservatoires. Sara, who returned to the conservatoire
environment as a tutor following her negative student experience, expressed her initial reservations about
teaching a predominantly male cohort within an educational context that she disagreed with:
“I found it diicult going back to a conservatoire that was populated mostly by male
students, I mean, they were young, you know, they were kids who had no idea what life
was like in the outside world and then also a bunch of male teachers, who were doing box
ticking, whether you could do that or that and could you do that and then if you could do
that, then you could go on to the next year and then if you could do that, then you could get
your final qualification.
Sara was oered an opportunity to contribute to the jazz course by a contact at the conservatoire. However,
when this contact left the institution, Sara lost her access to teaching and her temporary contract was not
renewed the following year. Not only was Sara’s income much reduced and destabilised by this change,
but the students lost one of their few female role models. This example also highlights that the hiring of
Visiting Tutors by Conservatoires as a means to address their gender imbalance is an unstable solution
and places yet less value on the contribution of women musicians as “temporary” rather than “permanent”.
An interesting contrast to these experiences can be found in the most positive interview of the project.
El (instrumentalist, 20s) discussed her experience of developing her musical skills within a diversity-
aware collective, describing it as a “very family orientated kind of organisation…so it’s about coming
together, jamming a lot, learning tunes”. Within this supportive, gender-balanced and reflective learning
environment focused on being “exposed to” and “absorbing” jazz, El felt extremely comfortable engaging
in jamming sessions, finding her own way to engage:
“The jamming felt quite the place to be. I mean, there are multiple ways to access jazz, like,
one can be, ‘I’m going to be the best, I’m going to be better than you!’ And that’s totally cool
and totally fine, and there is also another way, which is like, ‘I’m going to do things that feel
good to me and that make sense to me’.
Knowledge Barriers
The last commonly voiced issue with formal jazz education relates to the next key barrier in women’s
engagement with the contemporary music scene in the UK:
“[Conservatoires] don’t even really teach you how to market yourself or write a press release
or sort yourself out in that respect. And I feel like it can be a very thick bubble to pop…I’ve
been very much teaching myself how to do all this stu, how to sell yourself and sell your act
and be a business essentially.
— Beatrice, (vocalist/ composer, 20s)
Keychanges at Cheltenham Jazz Festival
Women such as Beatrice had experienced a jazz course which prepared her as a musician in
the protected and artificial environment of the Conservatoire. It had not, however, prepared
her for the realities of the contemporary music industry. As the following quote from Valerie
summarises, the various roles that contemporary live musicians have to take on (and, indeed,
excel at) in order to be successful are numerous.
“I want to play the piano, I want to write music. I want to do that and I’m not
being allowed to do the thing that I want to do, because I have to be about 10 or
15 dierent people. I have to be a record company producer, I have to update the
website, do the mailing list, run around selling CDs after the gig, you know, be
tour manager, get the band sorted, be that communicator between me and the
promoter, all those things.
— Valerie (instrumentalist/composer, 40s)
Alongside high levels of musicianship, jazz musicians in the contemporary scene require
a range of practical, industry-focused skills; from writing a press release to developing a
consistent and marketable identity online. None of the women interviewed for this project
had received any formal tuition in these areas and many struggled to develop these skills. This
skill-gap is not a gendered experience, with men and women musicians equally struggling to
keep up with the demands of the contemporary musician experience. However, for the women
that I spoke to, this multifaceted role of the musician was stretched even further following
negative experiences with agents, promoters, producers, distributors and record labels. From
the examples of gender discrimination mentioned earlier in this section to a desire to have
total control over the identity of the music produced and released, each of the women that I
spoke to relied heavily upon and had developed DIY strategies for success. Many self-released
their music and those in well-connected geographical locations and that were an active part
of a musical scene engaged in supportive and collaborative networks, through which they
shared their practices and knowledge.
I take on the responsibility for, like, making the money and getting the agent
together and it’s cool and all those roles and everything else, like, talking to
distributors and artists and press and the press agent and manufacturers for the
vinyl, mastering engineers, mixing… I mean, that’s what a manager does, but all
of those dierent roles I’m doing pretty well. Like, when I’m saying do all I can,
that includes learning from my mistakes and getting better, and I do feel that
this year especially, with this album cycle, that I’ve really done it well, there’s not
much to learn from. Having learnt [all] that from day one, from zero, that’s really
empowering and I feel really proud of myself.
— Harriet (instrumentalist/composer/ band leader, 30s)
Harriet detailed this long, DIY process of learning what it is to be a successful band leader
and composer though careful collaboration and self-reliance, a process which was at times
diicult and lonely but ultimately empowering for Harriet as a band leader and as a musician.
Harriet recognised that her resilience and personal (positive) approach to undertaking this
long path of self-development and leadership was key to her eventual success. For the
women that lived in more isolated areas, who had children and the financial responsibility of
mortgages, and who were less embedded within supportive musician networks, this journey
was often a longer and more exhausting one. Several women spoke about the emotional toil
of being a musician in the contemporary scene, intensified by what they saw as a comparative
Keychanges at Cheltenham Jazz Festival
undervaluing of women musicians by promoters, agents, and media and the scene’s reliance
upon a ‘boy’s club’ network of male individuals to gain access and opportunities.
Access to Festivals
Unsurprisingly, the women interviewed as part of this project were keen to discuss issues
relating to access to festivals and the Keychange initiative itself. In relation to their relationship
with Cheltenham Jazz Festival in particular (and jazz festivals more generally), younger,
emerging artists viewed the festival and its team as accessible and supportive. The older, mid-
career musicians were more critical of the festival and wary of the renewed interest in women
musicians. This is unsurprising. The Keychange initiative and the festivals that have signed
up must undo a long history of struggle, underrepresentation and gender discrimination,
detailed in the interviews within this project and summarised by Valerie (instrumentalist/
composer 40s):
“This is what I mean about Cheltenham and festivals like that, if they want 50:50,
they have to actively go and find it, it’s not going to come to them because we
don’t know how to go to them because they’re unapproachable. They really have
to try, you know, to go and see, they’re not going to read about it in Jazzwise.
— Valerie, (instrumentalist/composer, 40s)
This reference to the comparative invisibility of women in specialist music media was made
by other musicians during these interviews, and indeed reflected within the data visualisation
below which shows the gender imbalance of Jazzwise magazine – one of the most widely-
read specialist publications in the UK – front covers over the last six years. More established
musicians in particular raised this as an issue in their interviews, and linked this to their
struggles gaining recognition amongst jazz festivals and the scene more widely. As the
response from Jazzwise demonstrates, this is a complex issue that is critically considered by
the editorial team. Content must address the demands of magazine readership, the activity
of musicians, and the trends within the scene. However, the visibility of women musicians
on the front cover and within jazz magazines clearly articulates their value and oers strong
role models. This perception of underrepresentation by women musicians is something that
jazz media professionals must actively address in their support of a more gender-balanced
jazz scene.
Keychanges at Cheltenham Jazz Festival
2014 2015 2016
  
Representation of gender and jazz
Gender (im)balance of the front cover of Jazzwise 2019–2014*
* including the Dec/Jan issue in the second year
Gender of total number of women/men musicians on
the front cover of Jazzwise 2014–2019
Women and men musicians by primary
role 2019–2014*
4 / 4
107 / 7
0 / 1
2014 2015 2016
  
* one of the women was described as both a vocalist and bass player (although the front cover did not include instruments)
Keychanges at Cheltenham Jazz Festival
Ever since editor-in-chief Jon Newey
relaunched Jazzwise in Spring 2000, the
magazine and website has always sought
to present jazz in a forward looking way –
its editorial and imagery were a bold and
colourful reaction away from the stuy,
often black and white, male dominated,
inward-looking style of the jazz magazines
that preceded it. Jazzwise was the first to
feature more women jazz musicians and
currently reflects the increasing diversity of
the global jazz scene, which has far more
female instrumentalists coming to the fore
than there were 10 or 15 years ago.
There’s also a greater variety of artists
and bands coming through, building on
the inspiration and legacy of the ‘jazz
legends’. From an editorial perspective this
has provided many more opportunities to
regularly include a much more balanced
mix of features each month, and far greater
variety of artists on the cover in the last five
years. The ‘new jazz’ scene simply hadn’t
taken o until late 2017/early 2018 – Jazzwise
in fact featured Yazz Ahmed and Nérija as
rising stars at its 20th anniversary festival at
Ronnie Scott’s in March 2017 – both of whom
have subsequently featured on the cover
within the last two years.
Another key factor in this editorial ‘levelling-
up’ was the end of the dominance of the big
record labels – Universal, Sony, EMI, BMG
and Warner Bros. – whose jazz departments
have all but been closed down, with the rise
of a huge range of independent and artist-
run labels, as well as an increasing number
of eclectic new jazz (and arts) festivals,
promoters and venues, have provided
numerous opportunities for this new wave
of women-led bands to break through and
reach new, often younger, audiences –
many of whom have recently discovered
jazz. These audiences are a completely new
demographic to the predominantly male,
‘ABC1’, jazz fanbase that are typically the
people that have been long-time fans and
supporters of the music in the UK. I think
it’s important to be as inclusive as possible
– respecting the older jazz fans’ tastes –
but also challenging any preconceptions
by presenting high calibre musicians in an
intelligent and thought-provoking way.
The real positive from all of this is that the
jazz scene is richer and more diverse than
ever before, and Jazzwise will continue to
present this new, inclusive scene in the most
authoritative and vibrant way possible.
Mike Flynn,
Editor, Jazzwise Magazine
The generational dierence in perceived access to festivals may also relate to dierent
expectations of the festival. Emerging artists were happy to apply online to perform at the
festival, and to demonstrate their value and fit within the stylistic boundaries of Cheltenham
Jazz Festival. More experienced musicians with a longer history on the scene and an
established reputation, however, expected the festival to contact them directly. Increasing
access to women musicians is therefore not a simple task of providing clear, supportive
online application forms, but rather working to understand what dierent musicians expect
from festivals and why. In dealing with a community of women who have experienced gender
discrimination and success through perseverance, festivals must rebuild the trust lost and
demonstrate that they value these musicians and their work. As the following quote from
Marnie (composer/ instrumentalist/band leader, 30s) also demonstrates, fears of tokenism
or discrimination become part of the ways in which women musicians discuss festivals and
how they then engage with them:
“I’ve had a good few chats with them and they’ve been so supportive and really
encouraging, so yeah, my relationship with Cheltenham is really good… but I have
heard from others that [other festivals] might just have one female instrumentalist
on their kind of festival each year or whatever, because they think that more than
one might be a bit odd.
Whether these statements are based upon demonstrable experiences or not is irrelevant.
Some women musicians – particularly those with a history of negative experiences within the
jazz scene, who have not benefitted from recent women-focused funding and development
initiatives – expressed a distrust of festivals generally and questioned the longevity and
reach of the Keychange initiative. Eventual success within the jazz industry is hard won and
musicians of all career stages expressed the need for further skill and knowledge development,
especially relating to their multifaceted musician role. Festival support of women musicians
cannot therefore be achieved by focusing solely on the development of emerging artists, but
rather by asking ‘how can we support women at dierent stages in their career to overcome
barriers?’. More subtly, engaging productively with musicians (particularly relating to sensitive
issues of underrepresentation) is a question of building trust and communication. Addressing
issues of access and musician development therefore requires an understanding of dierent
expectations and the experiences that inform them.
A diicult task for the festival is to work beyond the normal channels of jazz
media and agents to identify musicians, to communicate their less visible long-
term aims to women musicians and to gain their trust that such strategies are
indeed rooted in making a dierence” – Sarah Raine, ‘Keychanges at Cheltenham
Jazz Festival’ in Towards Gender Equality in the Music Industry (Bloomsbury
Academic, 2019: 197)
Keychanges at Cheltenham Jazz Festival
Listening to Musicians
‘I haven’t spoken to anyone about this before…
Many of the women that I spoke to reiterated the same statement. Very few had been asked
about their experience of the jazz scene beyond performance, and many had not consciously
articulated the ways in which they had negotiated their multifaceted role as a musician.
Some of the gaps in their knowledge and skills that emerged could, with external support,
be addressed. As a pilot event, I organised a free, one-day musician-focused workshop at
Birmingham City University. Nineteen women musicians from the Midlands took part in
discussion groups on access and experiences and three practical workshops led by women
experts. Professor Diane Kemp (Birmingham City University) discussed engaging with
the media, from writing press releases to giving interviews. Emily Jones led a workshop
on representing yourself online from the perspective of the festival programmer. And Mary
Wakelam Sloan (Jazzlines, Town Hall Symphony Hall) explored the ways in which musicians
can most productively engage with promoters. Feedback forms distributed at the end show
that all of the attendees learnt something new and that was essential to their development
as musicians. Further comments reiterated the isolation and self-suiciency that some of the
women interviewed for this project had expressed:
“It helps to know that there are others out there with the same problems – we are
often working on our own to promote ourselves!”
“Today was a vital injection of encouragement and information. A very necessary
component of a contemporary woman musician’s work and art life.
Having listened to the women that I interviewed, I was able to identify specific skills and areas
of development that could be addressed within a workshop setting. As an academic, I was
able to oer a venue, industry experts, and a budget for lunch. Equally, jazz festivals have the
facilities and contacts necessary to run similar workshops for musicians. This comes down
to the perceived role of the music festival (and, indeed, academic institutions). Are music
festivals the prize at the end of a successful trajectory of musician development, a badge of
prestige for worthy talent? Or should festival teams take an active role in ensuring the health
and continuation of the scenes that feed them? The Cheltenham Jazz Festival team already
oer a range of talent development and support activities that focus on issues that have
emerged from this project and their own research. In this, Cheltenham (and other festivals
that oer talent development programmes) have taken on their position as a role model for
the jazz industry, and in their response to this project and to Keychange they have embraced
the responsibility that this brings.
“In acting as an industry role model, CJF will also have to establish particular
expectations of promoters, agents, educational institutions and policy makers on
their subsequent roles that feed into the annual festival program”
— Sarah Raine, ‘Keychanges at Cheltenham Jazz Festival’ in Towards Gender Equality in
the Music Industry (Bloomsbury Academic, 2019: page 198)
Keychanges at Cheltenham Jazz Festival
Emily Jones
Project Industry Partner and Head of Programming (2018–2019)
Communicating our intentions
The project led me to map all the ways female & non-binary artists interact with the festival, from reading
about the festival, to approaching us in search of a gig, through to advancing a show and engaging with
our team on the day.
Changes explored as a result:
Wording about our commitment to gender balance was added to a new webpage providing useful
information for artists applying for a gig at the festival
Started to add wording to gig confirmation emails to encourage gender balanced band line-ups (see
example below)
Considering how to make the festival more approachable to artists, without adverse impact on
programmer’s workload
Internal discussion about how freelance delivery sta are briefed, to help raise awareness of
unconscious bias that may occur when dealing with artists
Explored whistleblowing systems for artists and others to report sexism and harassment during
the festival
Gender balance of the festival programme planned to be a focus of the 2020 marketing strategy,
using the hashtag #diversitymatters on social media
Initial review of festival partners/sponsors to ensure they support our aims
Keychanges at Cheltenham Jazz Festival
Role of the programmer
The project led me to consider more carefully our role as a gatekeeper, most directly for
performing at the festival but also for the impact that has in terms of gaining greater profile
within the industry and radio coverage while in Cheltenham.
To support the aim of achieving gender balance across all areas of the programme, the
programming team needs to look beyond artists ‘pre-selected’ by normal industry channels
such as agents, media, record labels. The festival also needs to be more approachable for
female and non-binary artists, so that they don’t get lost in the flood of artists seeking gigs,
and so that they feel it is worth approaching us.
Changes explored as a result:
Inviting established female and non-binary jazz artists to act as scouts to assist the
festival in identifying artists with potential
Discussions with colleagues in the Education team about developing the talent pipeline
to ensure more young women are playing jazz.
The impact above has been achieved through:
Informed planning meetings – initial findings have been used in CJF planning meetings
to raise awareness within the festival team of the issues facing female artists and to
improve support strategies.
Informed supportive strategies – working closely with festival sta and developing
future initiatives.
Additional impact was achieved through:
Collaborative projects – e.g. musician-focused workshop in July run involving myself
and other industry experts.
Sharing of practice – building a network of Keychange pledged jazz festivals.
CJF has signed up to the Keychange pledge to reach a 50/50
gender balance by 2022. If the personnel for this show are not
already fixed, we would appreciate you giving extra consideration
to the gender balance of the line-up.
Wording from Cheltenham Jazz Festival
correspondence with musicians:
Keychanges at Cheltenham Jazz Festival
As part of this project, the four other jazz festivals that had signed up to Keychange by the
beginning of 2019 were asked to take part in roundtable events to discuss gender issues
within the scene and to provide gender data. Representatives from Glasgow Jazz Festival,
Hull Jazz Festival, and Manchester Jazz Festival agreed to be contributors to this project.
Each festival was aware of the current gender imbalance in the jazz scene and the comparative
lack of active women musicians. For David Porter (Director, Hull Jazz Festival), this imbalance
became extremely apparent when he was faced with an all-male ensemble from the National
Jazz Youth Orchestra, and for each of the festivals involved in the project this imbalance
became a focus for programming and talent development initiatives. Each festival has also
been tracking the gender data for their musicians and developing support mechanisms to
ensure the diversity of their programming.
As the data visualisations below demonstrate, like Cheltenham Jazz Festival each of the
festivals have achieved 50/50 gender balanced programmes, based upon the “one woman
on stage” interpretation. Yet, as also seen in the Cheltenham data, the gender breakdown in
relation to the total number of musicians performing indicates a continued gender imbalance
of festival stages. Furthermore, the roles of women musicians also indicate a comparative lack
of women instrumentalists. Equally, Steve Mead (Artistic Director, Manchester Jazz Festival)
noted the disparity possible in Keychange data, with “success” easier to achieve by smaller
festivals with fewer performances to address.
It is clear that the issues experienced by Cheltenham Jazz Festival – in sourcing female
instrumentalists, in moving away from solely female-fronted all male bands, and encouraging
young musicians to continue to engage with jazz – are experienced by these other three
festivals. It is also clear that each festival is very aware of issues of musician diversity within
the scene and that addressing these have become central to plans for development, outreach,
and programming. The roundtable events as part of this project was a valuable opportunity
for the sharing of practice, negotiating their Keychange pledge in meaningful and sustainable
ways, and discussing potential ways forward.
* Some of this data was gathered by researchers at Kings College London.
Keychanges at Cheltenham Jazz Festival
Gender breakdown of performances by 50/50 (one woman on
stage) 2014–2019
Gender breakdown of total musicians 2014–2019
Manchester Jazz Festival Glasgow Jazz FestivalHull Jazz Festival
Manchester Jazz Festival Glasgow Jazz FestivalHull Jazz Festival
 
 
Keychanges at Cheltenham Jazz Festival
Female artists by instrument
Manchester Jazz Festival
Glasgow Jazz Festival
Hull Jazz Festival
20192014 2016 20182015 2017
Piano/ Keyboard
Double Bass/ Bass Guitar
Drums/ Percussion
Clarinet/ Bass Clarinet
French Horn
20192014 2016 201820172015
Piano/ Keyboard
Double Bass/ Bass Guitar
Drums/ Percussion
20192014 2016 201820172015
Piano/ Keyboard
Double Bass/ Bass Guitar
Drums/ Percussion
Keychange and Manchester Jazz Festival: Reflections
Steve Mead
Artistic Director, Manchester Jazz Festival
On the whole, being part of Keychange is a positive experience and it feels good to be playing
a part in eecting change and building awareness within and beyond the sector. I’ve always
taken a ‘show, don’t tell’ approach to programming that has resisted putting a spin on – or
drawing special attention to – the gender balance within our programme. Whilst I feel this
is a more organic way of resetting the norm, it has conversely prevented us from publicly
celebrating our historical achievements in this area.
There are some technicalities of the 50/50 metric that mean comparative successes can be
recorded as failed targets, which can be frustrating and not give a true picture of achievement.
My concerns are around the backlash amongst female artists feeling they are being
programmed just because they are women, and in the problematic environment in which
our success is measured against targets that need to accommodate increasing numbers who
‘prefer not to say’ – thereby weakening the extent to which we are able to evidence success
to the outside world.
For me, Keychange principles have to be embedded throughout an organisation, including
its governance, sta, volunteers and audiences as much as its programmed artists. There
are also always factors beyond our control that can frustrate our attempts to sustain gender
balance. Proactive measures to help realise our Keychange ambitions include flagging our
ambitions on our artists submissions portal, making sure all our marketing platforms have
visible representation and devising specific schemes to address imbalance. It is important to
note that it has been easier to meet Keychange targets with emerging artists than it has been
with high-profile/international artists. And we must be mindful that eorts to achieve gender
balance can sometimes compromise eorts to achieve other diversity targets.
Finally, it always has to be about quality, not quantity.
Keychanges at Cheltenham Jazz Festival
1 Address limitations with
Keychange head on. Clearly state
your interpretation of 50/50 and be
aware of the issues inherent within
this interpretation.
2 Identify areas of
underrepresentation and
address these through targeted
programming, education and talent
development strategies.
3 Communicate your plans and
long-term support for musicians,
irrespective of gender, class, and
4 Act as a role model – communicate
clearly your expectations to other
music industry professionals,
such as promoters, agents, and
5 Future-proof all strategies and plan
beyond Keychange and individual
sta members.
6 Engage with Keychange as a talent
development programme as well
as a quota initiative.
7 Balance approaches – from
supporting emerging talent to
skill development for mid-career
women musicians.
8 Speak to musicians about
what support they need
for progression.
9 Consider issues of gender across
the festival – such as: employee,
volunteer, committee gender
imbalances; issues of safety;
sponsor relationships; marketing
materials etc.
10 Take your application processes
accessible to all – how can you
access underrepresented groups
and communicate your support for
all musicians?
Keychanges at Cheltenham Jazz Festival
Emily Jones
Head of Programming (2018–2019), Cheltenham Jazz Festival
Senior Producer (2019–present), Sage Gateshead
A useful model for addressing barriers to diversity is attraction, selection and inclusion. In this
context, ‘attraction’ refers to recruiting artists and communicating your intentions to them,
‘selection’ refers to the programming process, and ‘inclusion’ means making sure these artists
feel welcome at the festival. Mapping out the ways you attract and select artists, and ensure
inclusion, should provide a clear list of areas for improvement. For example:
Female band leaders and band members should be visible in all marketing collateral and
press releases (whether images or names) and where a selection of artists are featured,
this should reflect the gender make-up of the programme.
Speak publicly about the festival’s commitment to gender balance as much as possible.
Review list of artistic partners and media partners annually to ensure they are helping to
meet this commitment.
Review wording
on gig application pages, relevant press releases and forms to ensure commitment to
gender balance is mentioned.
If the organisation delivers outreach or education work, ensure there is a talent pipeline in
to the gig programme, and seek partners who have a track record of working with young
female/non-binary musicians to further develop the pipeline.
Keychanges at Cheltenham Jazz Festival
Consider including wording about commitment to gender balance in gig oers,
confirmations and contracts. If space allows, include an explanation to provide context.
Consider consulting established female and non-binary artists to find new artists below
the radar or to help broaden programmers’ knowledge.
Find a mechanism to continually monitor gender balance throughout the programming
process. Consider setting a separate target for non-binary artists.
Where there is a panel of decision makers, ensure it has a representative mix of genders.
Ensure fees are equal for female and non-binary artists when compared to similar-profile
male artists.
Seek female and non-binary artists to act as ‘critical friends’ for the festival, providing
honest, impartial feedback on processes, language, the backstage and on-stage
Ensure a separate dressing room is always available for female/non-binary musicians in
the tour party.
Recruit female/non-binary stage managers and sound engineers where possible.
Find a way to brief freelance sta on issues around unconscious bias, such as:
Ensure your questions are directed to the bandleader or relevant person, regardless of
their gender.
Assume that all musicians know how to use their equipment, regardless of their gender.
Consider finding a quick, easy, anonymous way for artists and sta to report sexism or
harassment at the festival – consider online tools like In Chorus
Ensure robust data collection methods are in place for use during or after the festival –
band line-ups often change at the last minute so data collected before the event will not
be accurate.
Keychanges at Cheltenham Jazz Festival
Maxie Gedge
Keychange Project Manager, PRS Foundation
We welcome this detailed and insightful research into the progress being made by Keychange
signatories and beyond. We know from our partners and grantees that the barriers that people
face in music because of their gender are numerous and complex, and whilst we know that
Keychange has encouraged significant progress globally, there is still much work to do. We
want to see meaningful and long-lasting change in the industry so it’s important that our
positive action is both ambitious and realistic. It’s also important that the pledge can be
applied to all areas of music – so the challenges that are genre, country, sector, or gender-
specific definitely require sensitivity and hard work from our signatories above and beyond
the pledge. The Keychange pledge works as a starting point because in signing the pledge,
organisations publicly accept that there is a gender problem in the music industry and commit
to taking responsibility for that problem.
We know that the pledge is not enough on its own – Keychange was funded by Creative Europe
initially as a talent development initiative that supported 60 talented artists and innovators to
navigate the barriers of the music industry and make change on their own terms; the pledge
was developed alongside this as a way to make sure we are encouraging change on both a
micro (individual) and macro (institutional) level. The pledge is constantly evolving and we are
always looking at ways to strengthen the target, make it more inclusive, and focus on specific
areas of the music industry. At the moment we are focusing on agencies and inclusivity riders.
We are also revising our data collection methods based on learnings from our pilot project
in 2018/19. Although the categorisation of 50/50, 50% and including mixed gender groups
means that the progress may not be so steep/immediate in some areas of the industry, we
have decided with our partners that acknowledging all women and gender minority artists
and innovators (including those who perform alongside men) is a very important aspect of the
pledge – to make sure that Keychange ‘sees’ and champions all roles in music, and not just
all-women and gender minority groups. An example of this is PRS Foundation grantee Zara
McFarlane, who is an important role model to champion although there are more men in her
band than women and gender minority performers. For the greater good, we see individuals
over stats sometimes. Equally, Lizy Exell is just as important to the movement in Old Hat as
she is in Nerija. We do not and we will not prioritise one type of performer, professional or
musician in our campaign; meanwhile we of course acknowledge that genre-norms, regional
influence, and cultural-norms encourage gendered roles. Our stats will scrutinise this and tell
us about our progress in more detail when we release our report at the Keychange conference
at Tallinn Music Week in 2023. Cultural change (in magazines, at venues, in conservatoires)
will take longer than the 1–2 years that we’ve been working on the pledge but we believe that
Keychange is encouraging and contributing to a shift.
Alongside the pledge we continue to work on the talent development programme and we
recently secured a large-scale cooperation grant for €1.4m from Creative Europe to deliver
a 4 year project that tackles the industry-wide gender problem on a global level. Pledge
Keychanges at Cheltenham Jazz Festival
activity accounts for under 3% of the grant. Between 2020 and 2023 we will work with
222 women and gender minority artists and innovators to help to shift the perspective of
visible talent and develop new strategies for change. In 2018 we recognised 4 key areas that
need development from the music industry and beyond in our manifesto, and presented it
to European parliament:
1. Working conditions & lack of senior role models: Addressing recruitment, remuneration,
career development and sexual harassment policies in a male dominated workforce
2. Investment: Making more funds available, from the industry and public sector at national
and European level, for targeted programmes which empower underrepresented artists
and industry professionals
3. Research: Commissioning an independent analysis of the current gender gap, including
an economic impact study of companies with increased female participation and eicacy
studies of programmes and activities to improve gender balance.
4. Education: Promoting role models and career campaigns in schools which tackle gender
stereotypes and diversify career options for young men and women.
We see more and more initiatives that are dealing with these points (including this research),
and we are appreciative and receptive to all. We look forward to discussing specific challenges
and nuances with all 300 of our signatories, our partners and our participants over the next 4
years. We remain open and flexible in the name of progress, and hopeful for a more balanced
future in the music industry.
Keychanges at Cheltenham Jazz Festival
Cheltenham Jazz Festival and the other festivals that took part in this project have now
reached a 50/50 gender balanced programme based upon the “one woman on stage”
interpretation. Many other music festivals across the world have been equally successful.
It is clear that this “success” must herald the beginning of careful data analysis and active
interventions to address the barriers that confront women and other underrepresented groups
of musicians. This report, the recommendations that have emerged from the project, and the
model provided by Cheltenham Jazz Festival oers a guide to engaging with Keychange and
issues of representation.
Reaching true 50/50 within jazz requires some significant work and will take time, energy,
perseverance, focus, and funding. Through the process of undertaking this research, it is clear
that fewer women musicians are coming through the UK education system, itself a large
and complex research project which would have to explore national music provision, role
models, and career choices (to name but a few potential avenues of consideration). Equally,
the underrepresentation of women instrumentalists in comparison to jazz vocalists requires
further consideration, building upon the academic work that has identified a gendering of
this role and the comparative devaluing of the (woman) jazz singer (see Raine 2019 for a
discussion of this literature). By working together, industry and academia have the tools to
support musicians, to ensure a healthy music scene, and to work to address barriers to access,
each taking responsibility for their role as instigators for and champions of change.
In addition to sometimes harrowing stories of gender discrimination and data demonstrating
the continued gender imbalance of the jazz scene, it was heartening to hear of the increasing
success of women musicians and the organisations that support them. Collectives such as
Tomorrow’s Warriors in London, Jazzlines in Birmingham, Jazz Camp for Girls (Jazz North),
Women in Jazz, and Scottish Women Inventing Music (to name but a few) oer supportive and
socially-aware programmes for musician development, diversifying musician and audience
understanding of the genre, and actively doing something to inspire the next generation.
Keychanges at Cheltenham Jazz Festival
Dave Gaydon
Head of Programming, Cheltenham Jazz Festival
I am in the fortunate position of taking over from Emily Jones and inheriting her excellent
work. Stepping into an organisation that is already fully committed to Keychange, I have a
clear path forward. We are set to meet the target again in 2020 and we will continue striving
to maintain our 50/50 Keychange pledge to 2022 and beyond.
Long-term, we hope our talent developments initiatives will support women and non-binary
musicians at all stages of their careers. Cheltenham Festivals has pledged to triple platforms
for unsigned talent across its four Festivals and in this way, we can look forward to more
equal representation.
This project and the network of individuals, institutions and organisations that it involved
will form the backbone of a larger funding application and future research to more fully
explore the issues that have emerged, with industry and academic applications of these
insights. We welcome collaborations and partnerships. This report and data from other jazz
festivals and institutions will be hosted on a project website, alongside a contact form – www.
This report is Open Access and can be shared.
Keychanges at Cheltenham Jazz Festival
Dr Sarah Raine undertook this research in her post as
a Research Fellow at Birmingham Centre for Media at
Cultural Studies (BCMCR) at Birmingham City University.
Having completed her doctoral research on the younger
members of the northern soul scene in the UK, Sarah
was funded through an AHRC Creative Economy
Engagement Fellowship. This project was in partnership
with Cheltenham Jazz Festival to consider the obstacles
facing women in jazz and aims to identify barriers to
female participation in relation to the PRS Foundation
Keychange initiative. Sarah was also the Network
Coordinator for an AHRC project, Jazz and Everyday
Aesthetics (2016–2018) and is a member of the Rhythm
Changes conference committee.
Sarah is now a Research Fellow at Edinburgh Napier,
working on a project with Edinburgh Jazz and Blues
Sarah is also co-Managing Editor of Ris: Experimental
writing on popular music, the Review Editor for Popular
Music History and a book series editor (Icons of Pop
Music and Music Industry Studies) for Equinox Publishing.
Alongside Dr. Catherine Strong, she co-edited Towards
Gender Equality in the Music Industry: Education, Practice
and Strategies for Change (Bloomsbury: 2019) and she is
one of the editors of The Northern Soul Scene (Raine, Wall
and Watchman Smith, Equinox: 2019).
This project was overseen by Professor Nick Gebhardt.
Nick is Professor of Jazz and Popular Music Studies
at Birmingham City University and the Director of the
Birmingham Centre for Media and Cultural Research.
He has participated in a range of jazz-focused research
projects, including the AHRC-funded Jazz and Everyday
Aesthetics and the JPI-funded Cultural Heritage and
Improvised Music in European Festivals. He is also the
co-editor of the Routledge book series Transnational
Studies in Jazz and a founding member of the Rhythm
Changes jazz studies conference.
Midlands3Cities Creative Economy Engagement
Fellowships (M4C) are funded by the AHRC, through the
National Productivity Investment Fund. The fellowship
programme is designed to support post-doctoral
researchers in the arts and humanities to engage with
businesses in the creative and digital economy and other
organisations involved with the commercial endeavours
of the Creative Economy.
These fellowships aim to support some of the UK’s most
talented researchers and nurture future leaders to work
at the interface between the arts and humanities and
other disciplines. The fellows engage with businesses in
the creative and digital economy and other organisations
involved with the commercial endeavours of the Creative
Economy. M3C supports research which is cross-
disciplinary and innovation-orientated undertaken by the
best international talent.
This report and the data visualisations were designed
by Adam Kelly-Williams. Adam is an art director
and graphic designer operating as Handsprings
This research was approved by and carried out
under Birmingham City University’s Research Ethics
Framework. All participants were granted anonymity and
their accounts anonymised to protect their identities. All
data oered was provided by the jazz festivals in question
and the industry partner involved in the development of
the project material. This report was co-produced by
Dr Sarah Raine and the named festivals. Data was also
provided by Dr Christina Schar and researchers at
Kings College London.
Keychanges at Cheltenham Jazz Festival
Firstly, I would like to thank the musicians who added their voices to this report and who spoke
to me openly and candidly about their experience. Hopefully this will be but the beginning
of a much longer conversation about gender politics within the music industry, within and
beyond jazz.
With thanks to M3C (Arts and Humanities Research Council) for their support of this project
and for partnership-focused research, and to Cheltenham Jazz Festival for such a close and
productive collaboration. Thanks, in particular, to Emily Jones, Sam Skillings, Bairbre Lloyd,
Allie Mawl and Dave Gaydon.
With great thanks and admiration to Professor Nick Gebhardt who supported me throughout
this project and has been its champion from the very beginning.
Many thanks to those who contributed to this report: Emily Jones (Cheltenham Jazz Festival),
David Porter (Hull Festival Festival), Steve Mead (Manchester Jazz Festival), Jill Roger (Glasgow
Jazz Festival), Maxie Gedge (Keychange), Dr Christina Schar (Kings College London), Mike
Flynn (Jazzwise), and to Adam Kelly-Williams for his sterling work on the design of this report
and data visualisations.
Thanks also to the research team at Birmingham City University, to include Yvette Burn, Tony
Cordell, Robert Dolan, Kirat Rehal, Professor Tim Wall and Paul Whitehead.
Finally, to all the musicians, academics and industry professionals that gave up their time to
discuss gender within their scenes during this project: Dr Simon Barber, Lyle Bignon, Dr Jory
Debenham, Dr Kirsty Devaney, Tony Dudley-Evans, Sarah Farmer, Dr Bobbie Jane Gardner,
Dr Craig Hamilton, Holly Hollister, Professor Diane Kemp, Chris Mapp, Shekayla Maragh, Ellie
Moore, Dr Annette Naudin, Emma Nenadic, Dr Karen Patel, Si Paton, Jeremy Price, Stella
Roberts, Dr Christina Schar, Christina Timms, Mary Wakelam Sloan, Bryony Williams, Becky
Woodcock, and Andrew Woodhead.
... However, few industry reports consider this data in relation to genre, offering a general overview of unequal access xxiv Foreword to English Edition x x i v x x i v and influence. In my own work with four UK jazz festivals, women made up at best a third (at worst a fifth) of the total programmed musicians in 2019, all-male bands continue to be a very common sight at jazz festivals and the jazz singer continues to be a predominantly female role (Raine 2019(Raine , 2020. Almost twenty years after the research for Women in Jazz was undertaken, nine of the women that I interviewed had experienced gender discrimination, most found the jazz scene particularly male-dominated and a third had experienced direct sexual harassment in the course of their career. ...
Women in Jazz: Musicality, Femininity, Marginalization examines the invisible discrimination against female musicians in the French jazz world and the ways in which women thrive as professionals despite such conditions.The author shines a light on the paradox for women in jazz: to express oneself in a “feminine” way is to be denigrated for it, yet to behave in a “masculine” manner is to be devalued for a lack of femininity.This masculine world ensures it is more difficult for women to be recognized as jazz musicians than it is for men – even when musicians, critics and audiences are ideologically opposed to discrimination. Female singers are confined by the feminine stereotypes of their profession, while female instrumentalists must comport themselves into traditionally masculine roles. The author explores the academic and professional socializations of these musicians, the musical choice they make and how they are perceived by jazz professionals as a result. First published in French by CNRS Editions in 2007 (and later reissued in paperback in 2018, with the author’s postscript that “nothing much has changed”), Women in Jazz: Musicality, Femininity, Marginalization expands the conversation beyond the French border, identifying female jazz musicians as a discriminated minority all around the world.
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any references for this publication.