Reading the news headlines in the past week or so has not exactly been what one would call a big ol’ bag of laughs. It’s probably just me, but very rarely does the impending threat of nuclear destruction cheer me up. At least not like it used to.
One thing that did just that, however, was the launch of ReBalance, Festival Republic and PRS Foundation’s brilliant new initiative aimed at redressing gender inequality by giving acts with a female songwriting core a platform from which to get a step up. Taken alongside ReBalance’s other objective to tackle representation in behind-the-scenes areas of the industry, it stands to reason that its impact could be enormous. It would be a shame if that was where it ended, if the industry simply applauded Festival Republic and PRS Foundation and then dived straight back into the status quo.
As a fan of a diverse array of music, I always like to think – naively, admittedly – of music as the most progressive medium out there. Surely, the industry that gave us Madonna, Public Enemy, Lady Gaga, Queen, Pearl Jam and Against Me! is one where progressive values not only exist but also flourish? The truth, of course, is that often it isn’t. But then, at the same time, there are a lot of progressive, forward-thinking people within it. A lot more, I would dare guess, than those that aren’t. What ReBalance draws attention to is the need – the urgent need – for the industry to interrogate its own personal relationship with the question of gender inequality.
ReBalance should serve as a cleansing breath, a chance for companies to re-examine themselves with fresh eyes. The gulf that exists between progressive thinking and progressive action can often be a sizeable one. It’s up to us to close that gap in 2017 and beyond.