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Industry pros back Safe Spaces Now initiative

UK artists, festivals and industry professionals have signed a new pledge to improve safety for women at live music events.

Emily Eavis/Glastonbury Festival, The Eden Project, Strawberries & Creem, Dice and DJ Clara Amfo, as well as artists Rudimental, Paloma Faith, Anne-Marie, Mabel and Beverley Knight, are among the signatories to an open letter launching Safe Spaces Now, created by UN Women UK to push for a safe and inclusive concert environment for both genders post-pandemic.

As part of the initiative, UN Women UK has drawn up more than 150 solutions for ‘safe spaces’ for concerts, nightlife and festivals, including redesigning venues, addressing behaviour within them, inclusion within staff teams, and training to recognise potential abuse and respond appropriately.

The first Safe Spaces Now pilot event will be Strawberries & Creem festival from 18 to 19 September, with organisers promising festivalgoers a “safety-focused strategy in close collaboration with UN Women UK” at the Cambridge event.

Claire Barnett, executive director of UN Women UK, part of the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, says: “As live events return following the Covid pandemic, women and marginalised people everywhere are not only thinking about staying safe from the virus – they want to be able to enjoy their right to music, arts and culture without constant fears of violence and harassment.

“We have a unique opportunity as we return from lockdown to reconsider the way we construct and use our public spaces”

“We have a unique opportunity as we return from lockdown to reconsider the way we construct and use our public spaces to be safer for the long term. UN Women UK is pleased to partner with Strawberries & Creem on this first Safe Spaces Now live event, and we hope many more representatives from the music industry will follow suit and commit to helping us build a more equitable future.”

According to a 2018 YouGov poll, over 40% of women under 40 have experienced some kind of unwanted sexual behaviour at a British music festival.

“We’re passionate about ensuring our events are welcoming, inclusive and safe spaces for people to enjoy music together. Festivals should offer joy and hope to everyone, and they are absolutely no place for harassment or abuse of any form,” says Chris Jammer, co-founder of Strawberries & Creem.

“Equality and diversity are values close to our hearts, and we’re proud to have a gender-balanced line-up this year, as well as to be working with UN Women UK on this crucial initiative. We hope that together, we can set a blueprint for what safe spaces should look like for festivals moving forward – for all of our audience, as well as our artists and staff.”

Festivals, events, promoters, venues and other live music organisations are invited to sign the pledge and register their support for the Safe Spaces Now initiative, after which UN Women UK will follow up to discuss your commitments.

 


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The LGBTIQ+ List 2021: Maxie Gedge, Keychange

The LGBTIQ+ List 2021 – IQ’s first annual celebration of queer professionals who make an immense impact in the international live music business – was published in the inaugural Pride edition (issue 101) this month.

The 20 individuals comprising the LGBTIQ+ List 2021, as nominated by our readers and verified by our esteemed steering committee, have gone above and beyond to wave the flag for an industry that we can all be proud of.

To get to know this year’s queer pioneers a little better, IQ asked each individual to share their challenges, triumphs, advice and more. Each day this month, we’ll publish a new interview with an individual on the LGBTIQ+ List 2021. Catch up on the previous interview with Chris Ibbs, agent at CAA in the UK here.

 


Maxie Gedge
She/her
Keychange project manager, PRS Foundation
London, UK
maxie@keyhange.eu
Linkedin.com/in/maxie-gravy/

Tell us about a personal triumph in your career.
When I got promoted into this Keychange role, it felt like a really big step that brought all of my life experiences together for a bigger purpose. It was so rad to host a queer dance party on the terrace of the Southbank Centre pre-pandemic with Dream Wife, Romy XX, Lil’ C and more – it was hot and packed, and everyone was dancing all day. It’s a memory I’ve cherished during this event drought.

With Keychange, taking part in Women’s Hour and travelling to Tokyo to speak about PRS Foundation were both bucket-list moments. I’m very lucky that my day-to-day work is focused on supporting under-represented voices in the music industry, so seeing them triumph is the best thing.

What advice could you give for young queer professionals?
Find your community. I’ve been very lucky that through good times and bad, my wife, band, friends, family and colleagues have been a safe space for expression, inspiration and motivation.

Tell us about a professional challenge you often come across as a queer person.
My vibe is transmasculine, which is quite attached to my queer identity (For me, not for everyone!). So the unconscious bias or immediate assumptions people make are often super obvious. I’ve learned to be good at dealing with awkward moments, but the constant ‘coming out’ is challenging.

“The pandemic should be a reason to create an industry that works for everyone”

What one thing could the industry do to be more inclusive?
There should be better processes and stricter rules for both representation and inclusion, so that there are more LGBTQIA+ (and traditionally under-represented) people in all areas of the industry, as well as processes in place to make those environments safe.

Causes you support.
There are lots of amazing organisations combatting abuse and harassment in the music industry right now, like the Musicians’ Union, Safe in Sound, and the work of SwiM. Pride in Music, the LGBTQIA+ work that Come Play With Me do, plus other positive action initiatives like Power Up and Girls I Rate, are all awesome. Heart n Soul is a really important and inspiring talent development organisation too.

What does the near future of the industry look like?
I hope there’s a move towards innovation and sustainability. Creating a collaborative ecosystem is essential, so every part of the music industry is valued and supported – and where that support is based on impact not income.

How could the industry build back better, post-pandemic?
The pandemic should be a reason to create an industry that works for everyone, not an excuse to lean on the old, exploitative, and discriminatory structures. We are losing talent and voices every day and we need to urgently work together to fix this broken system.

 


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We Are Ops, female-led operations firm, launches

We Are Ops, a new female-led event operations, safety and people management business, has launched in the UK.

Created by senior female staff at London-based We Are the Fair, an event production company which has worked on festivals including Field Day, Gala, Kisstory, Camp Wildfire and El Dorado, We Are Ops aims to boost gender diversity in what can still often feel like a “macho industry”, according to We Are Ops director and We Are the Fair head of production Yasmin Galletti.

“Since I started out in the industry 12 years ago, we’ve seen the workforce on site and behind the scenes become more balanced, but it still feels women are working in the shadows, not being given the platform or recognition that they deserve for their work,” Galletti explains.

“I feel proud and blessed to be part of a company that celebrates the female attitude towards event operations”

The We Are Ops team have 150 years of combined experience, with other members including health and safety advisors Sarah Tew and Francesca Boden and operations manager Jan Rankou.

The company offers services including licensing, traffic and security planning, safety management, sustainability consulting, risk assessments, crowd and capacity planning and accessibility and inclusion.

“I feel proud and blessed to be part of a company that celebrates the female attitude towards event operations,” continues Galletti, “especially in the area of health and safety, which is still a very male-led faction of the industry.”

 


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We can’t afford to go back to pale, male and stale

Health passports, fast testing, social distancing, rapid screenings: the industry has been grappling with more medical concepts in the last year than it ever had to before.

Getting back to business; finding ways to reopen venues and stage festivals; getting technicians back to their sound desks and musicians back on stage, is all we’ve thought and talked about during the past 12 months.

But is that everything? All of it? Perhaps the question shouldn’t simply be when is the industry resuming but how and with whom?

Perhaps the question shouldn’t simply be when is the industry resuming but how and with whom?

Because we can’t afford to go back to pale, male and stale music festivals, to companies overwhelmingly ruled by men, to soundchecks where as far as the eyes can see it’s Johns and Jacks and Martins – not that we want them to disappear, we just want them to share their space with us Janes, Jackies and Martas.

It’s been two years since Primavera Sound sent a message to the world: a gender-balanced lineup can be achieved. When we released that line-up, we said that equality and dismantling gender barriers should be normal, and yet, in spite of the fact that we claimed that that edition would be the one in which everything changed… it didn’t.

Two years after becoming the first major festival with a 50/50 gender split, we haven’t seen much of a change. In fact, the situation has only got worse for women thanks to the pandemic. The biggest problem now is not only the ongoing systemic inactivity but the depressing thought that the pandemic can, and will, be used as an excuse to avoid taking the much-needed next steps.

It’s not about the lack of female artists or headliners: it’s the lack of willingness to book them or give them the rank they deserve

At Primavera, we know how challenging this process can be, maybe even more than the promoters and festivals that still refuse to be more diverse. In the end, we set our own standard: we have to live up to that past achievement, and keep honouring it.

2019 was an amazing year for music made by women: Rosalía, Janelle Monáe, Robyn, Erykah Badu, Chris from Christine & the Queens and many more, made it really easy for us. But was that programme just a once in a lifetime? Not really.

The next year proved us right, thanks to Lana del Rey, Bikini Kill, Kacey Musgraves and Brittany Howard. So it’s not about the lack of female artists, or even female headliners: it’s about the lack of willingness to book them or give them the rank they deserve. In the end, if they are the ones who chart the highest and win all the awards, shouldn’t they be also topping our line-ups?

In 2019, Primavera Sound’s [gender-balanced line-up] sold more day tickets than ever, up to 65,000

So, let’s talk business. Does a gender-balanced line-up translate into revenue? In 2019, Primavera Sound sold more day tickets than ever, up to 65,000. That Saturday, 1 June, Rosalía, Solange and Lizzo shared a line-up with James Blake, Jarvis Cocker and Stereolab, as well as the biggest Colombian reggaeton artist, J Balvin.

Isn’t this how real diversity should look (and be heard)? Even our partners at the UN SDG Action Campaign thought so.

Whilst I don’t pretend to be an expert on this matter, by any means, let’s ask Google how a more diverse and inclusive environment can and will improve any company.

I remember moderating a panel last year at Primavera Pro. We were already asking ‘What’s Next?’ because we suspected that 2020 could be the perfect time to pause and reflect on our work. In that panel, we were inspired by Fruzsina Szép (director of Lollapalooza Berlin and Superbloom Munich) and her approach to the pandemic: her whole team was taking much-needed time to take a deeper look at their festivals and to think how they wanted them to be, not how they had to be.

It’s not about being perfect, the real challenge is to do better

Why shouldn’t we use this crisis as an opportunity to fix systemic issues – that are more deep-rooted and insidious than a virus – instead of as an excuse?

We understand that competition can be fierce, but saying that line-ups prior to the pandemic have to be honoured feels cheap. Crazy thought: what if they had already been diverse in 2020? To all the festivals who pledged to achieve gender equality in 2022 and to all of those who were already trying to do better, please don’t take a rain-check due to the pandemic; you are doing a great job. It’s not about being perfect, the real challenge is to do better, no matter how small each step may seem.

We have this chance to start planting in empty fields, as nothing is written in stone anymore. If we don’t have a clue what it’s going to be like when we programme festivals again, if we lose all the benefits of a stable landscape, why should we inherit its problems?

 


Marta Pallarès is head of international press & PR for Primavera Sound in Barcelona, Spain.

International Women’s Day: Live biz marks IWD 2021

Companies and associations from across the live music business have celebrated International Women’s Day (8 March) by paying tribute to inspiring female staff members, executives, performers and role models.

Established in the early 20th century, International Women’s Day (IWD) is held annually to commemorate the achievements of women, as well as to draw attention to ongoing issues around gender equality and women’s rights. Among the live music organisations participating in IWD 2021 are LIVE, the new umbrella organisation for the UK live music industry, which ran the #LIVEtogether campaign on social media, spotlighting female members of its constituent associations.

The LIVE (Live music Industry Venues and Entertainment) profiles included members of including the Concert Promoters Association, Association of Independent Festivals, Music Managers Forum, Production Services Association and more.

Using the hashtag #WomenToTheFront, LIVE member Music Venue Trust and its members will, throughout the week, highlight the work of women “who are vital to the grassroots music community”.

Music Venue Trust (MVT)’s head of events, projects and communications, Sarah Claudine, explains: “It’s incredibly important to Music Venue Trust to be using International Women’s Day 2021 as an opportunity to celebrate the women who play such an important role in the UK’s grassroots music industry. We are very proud to have so many remarkable women contribute to MVT, from our core team and coordinators to our board of trustees and patrons, and know that this diversity is reflective of the changing face of the wider live music community.”

MVT recently announced six new patrons, all women working in the music industry: rock duo Nova Twins, Welsh post-punk trio Adwaith, DJs Moxie and HAAi, singer-songwriter Kerri Watt, and booking agent Natasha Gregory (née Bent).

“From tour managers to merchandise sellers, venue owners to sound engineers, and members of my own band, I’ve experienced first hand the heart and soul that the women in our industry put in to live music,” says Watt. “I see my colleagues as role models, giving younger women the confidence to get more involved in live music and work within an industry they’re really passionate about.”

“It’s incredibly important … to be using IWD 2021 as an opportunity to celebrate the women who play such an important role in the grassroots music industry”

Similarly running content throughout the week is Liverpool Sound City, which is hosting a slate of IWD-themed programming both on its Facebook page and its dedicated Guesthouse streaming platform.

Today it streamed a Keychange-presented showcase featuring emerging female artists on Guesthouse, while a Keychange conference co-hosted by the Sound City Facebook page included panels on the gender gap and equality initiatives and a keynote interview with Keychange ambassador Kate Nash. More content is planned through Friday.

Sound City MD Rebecca Ayres says: “International Women’s Day is an important day in the calendar in terms of both lifting women into the spotlight and promoting awareness around the gender inequality that still exists in the music industry.

“But the fight for greater equality needs to be constant and, indeed, for Sound City, the commitments we have made as the lead UK Keychange festival are year-round commitments, with gender equality being a key aspect of our festivals, conferences and training. We look forward to celebrating women in music on International Women’s Day and beyond.”

“We need more women executives and female artists on our rosters”

Live Nation France chose to recognise its female staff with a special video, titled Les Femmes de Live Nation, which premiered on Instagram TV, while its UK sister company worked with Swedish singer-songwriter Zara Larsson on a free IWD live stream premiering at 7pm GMT:

At West End theatre operator LW Theatres, a special feature, ’West End Women’, shines a light “on some of the stars who run the show”.

The company, which operates celebrated concert venue the London Palladium, also revealed it has changed the traditionally masculine titles of its production jobs to gender-neutral equivalents, with master carpenter becoming head of stage engineering and dayman ‘first grade electrician’:

For Australia’s Mushroom Group, IWD provided the perfect opportunity for the women of the company to pay tribute to its late founder, Michael Gudinski, who was known as an advocate for women in live music.

“I did the first Australian Go-Gos and Bangles tours in the ’80s. That’s when I realised that, on the road, the girls were no different to the boys,” he recalled last year. “It further encouraged my belief that we need more women executives and female artists on our rosters.”

“He just gave women a go,” remembers Australian broadcaster Jane Gazzo. “Everyone says they have a Michael Gudinski story because he had time for all of us,” she told ABC Radio. “We’ve all had a piece of our heart ripped out this week.”


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Impala hires diversity trainers Vick Bain and Arit Eminue

Impala, the umbrella body which represents music companies and associations across Europe, has appointed UK-based equality campaigner Vick Bain and Arit Eminue to provide diversity and inclusion training to its members.

Bain, who has been confirmed for ILMC session Gender Equality: The Next Level, is a diversity trainer, campaigner and PhD researcher, as well as a qualified equality, diversity and inclusion consultant.

Last year, she officially launched the F-List, a directory of UK female and non-binary musicians to be used by promoters, festival bookers, commissioners, music supervisors.

Arit Eminue of Diva Apprenticeships has also been appointed, alongside Bain, to provide diversity training for Impala’s 5,000+ members on a three-year contract.

“This is an exciting opportunity to spread awareness and knowledge on the benefits of diversity and inclusion in the music industry”

The pair have already held two training sessions for Impala’s diversity task force. The first training session for members is set for 27 January.

The appointments follow Impala’s Diversity and Inclusion Charter, published last October, which lays out 12 commitments towards promoting diversity and inclusion among independent music companies. This includes making diversity and conscious inclusion training available twice a year to all members.

“Working with Impala and its membership across Europe is an exciting opportunity to spread awareness and knowledge on the benefits of diversity and inclusion in the music industry,” says Bain.

Arit Eminue added: “I look forward to helping Imapala’s members achieve their diversity and inclusion goals and providing practical tips on how they can drive change. So much can be done by making simple changes to start with.”

 


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LN’s Femme it Forward launches mentor programme

Femme it Forward, the Live Nation-backed, female-led live entertainment company, has announced the launch of Next Gem Femme, a new mentorship programme for young women of colour.

According to the company, which launched as female-led event series in 2019, Next Gen Femme aims to help “the many people looking for meaningful actions to improve equity in their industries and workplaces”. The programme is designed to pair emerging talent with women who are at the forefront of their fields, and includes mentors from Live Nation, CAA, Maverick Management, WME, ICM Partners, Spotify, YouTube, Columbia Records and more.

Each mentorship will start with a one-year partnership, with the opportunity to extend. The mentee experience will include both “real-time projects and scenarios” and coaching, CV-building and networking opportunities.

“If we can help more women pay it forward there’s no telling how much we can accomplish together”

“Women succeed when we support each other, and as a company dedicated to celebrating the depth, power and talent of women in music and entertainment, we have a special responsibility to cultivate the next generation of female leaders in the workplace,” comments Heather Lowery, founder and CEO of Femme it Forward. “We are at a pivotal moment for progress, and if we can help more women pay it forward there’s no telling how much we can accomplish together.”

The inaugural programme will include 200 female mentees of colour who are either pursuing undergraduate/graduate degrees or working in entry-level positions. At least 100 of the 200 mentee spots will go to students from ‘historically black colleges and universities’, while mentees will also be able to apply for scholarships, book stipends, food stipends and other financial aid.

The application process for Next Gen Femme will begin in May, in time for the programme’s August 2021 launch. For more information, or to apply, visit www.femmeitforward.com.

 


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Keychange expands in Canada with Tegan and Sara

Canadian indie-pop icons Tegan and Sara have been appointed as the country’s ambassadors for gender equality initiative Keychange.

The Creative Europe-funded campaign encourages festivals, conferences, music organisations and institutions to sign a pledge to include at least 50% women and under-represented genders in their programming, staffing and beyond by 2022.

“We encourage members of our industry who have tremendous power to sign, fund, promote, nominate, support, acknowledge, and celebrate the diverse population working in the arts today,” say Tegan and Sara.

“The demographic breakdown of awards nominations and festival lineups reflects the structural confines of our society and industry. We must do better, as it sends an outdated message to the next generation about whose art and voice and message is valuable.”

The appointment is part of Keychange’s gradual expansion in Canada, this year an official country partner in the movement, which now includes two lead festival partners, eight participants and seven new signatories.

Breakout West, the annual conference and music festival, and Mutek, a Montreal-based electronic music festival, are lead festival partners and will host four international Keychange participants each, as well as the Canadian participants in 2021.

“We must do better, as it sends an outdated message to the next generation about whose art and voice and message is valuable”

The Canadian participants include: artist manager and talent buyer Rebecca Szymkow at Birthday Cake Media; music composer Kroy aka Camille Poliquin; Katrina Lopes, president of KL Management; Savannah Wellman, co-founder of Vancouver record label and management company Tiny Kingdom Music and Mar Sellars, an artist manager and radio host with her own company Mar On Music.

Artist participants are former Keychange ambassador Iskwē; Kimmortal, a queer Filipino nonbinary musician from Vancouver and Dana Beeler, frontwoman of Hello Delaware.

The seven new Canadian organisations which have signed the Keychange gender pledge include the Polaris Music Prize, a not-for-profit organisation that annually honours and rewards artists who produce Canadian music albums of distinction and MMF Canada, a non-profit trade association that offers education, networking and advocacy on behalf of its members, their artists, and the wider Canadian music community.

Other new signatories include music festival Folk on the Rocks; association Musique NB (MNB); record label and publisher Birthday Cake Media; Kaneshii Vinyl Press; and radio station n10.as.

Robyn Stewart, Breakout West says: “BreakOut West is committed to highlighting the diverse voices or our artists and industry. Our commitment as Keychange partners is one part of this as we strive to support female and non-binary leaders and the incredible mix of talent in Western Canada.”

Marie-Laure Saidani, Mutek Montreal says: “Gender equality is one of Mutek’s core values. Joining the Keychange movement in 2018 has definitely acted as a catalyst as we have achieved parity in our programming since. We are proud to belong to this international network which advocates positive change in the music industry.”

Keychange recently expanded into Poland, in the midst of clashes over abortion law and LGBTQ+ rights. Read more here.

 


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Female-first Swiss Music Directory launches

Helvetiarock, a Swiss association and networking platform pushing for gender equality in the live music industry, has launched a national ‘Music Directory’ of women and non-binary people working in music.

The resource, located at MusicDirectory.ch, aims to boost female/non-binary representation both on and off stage, including promoters, producers, agents, sound engineers and artists, by providing a centralised resource of non-male industry professionals.

“Only 10–20% of people on, and behind [the] stage, are women,” Laurence Desarzens, president of Swiss Music Export, told Radio Vostok.

The association, launched in 2009, aims to have 1,000 registrations by 20 November.

“This platform allows us to make ourselves visible, to take our place”

“This platform allows us to make ourselves visible, to take our place,” comments artist Elodie Romain, the coordinator of the Music Directory for Francophone Switzerland. “It’s a place to exchange information and advice on the best equipment, the representation of artists, or the skills needed to break through as a producer, and also a place to launch new projects.

Other artist supporters of the campaign include Flèche Love, Stefanie Heinzmann, Steff La Cheffe (pictured) and Msoke.

The launch of the Swiss Music Directory follows that of Live Nation’s Black Tour Directory, which aims to increase representation for black professionals in the US, last month.

 


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Poland joins Keychange’s gender equality movement

As Polish women take to the streets to protest a near-total ban on abortion, Poland’s music industry is leading the charge for gender equality after becoming an official country partner to the Keychange movement for gender equality.

The Creative Europe-funded campaign encourages festivals, conferences, music organisations and institutions to sign a pledge to include at least 50% women and under-represented genders in their programming, staffing and beyond by 2022.

Today, Keychange has announced three new Polish signatories: Ethno Port (festival); Chimes (agency); and record label, music publisher, management and agency Kayax.

Spring Break, an annual showcase festival in Poznań, has also been announced as the lead partner for Keychange in Poland and organisers have committed to gender equality on its lineup.

To celebrate the launch of Keychange in Poland, Chimes (Keychange capacity building lead) and Spring Break will collaborate on a focus week and panel discussion to explore the barriers for women and gender minorities in Poland, and the role of music in activism in the country.

Magdalena Jensen, responsible for planning training for Keychange participants this year, says: “We have witnessed the dangerous politicisation of gender in Poland this year with the president inciting hate speech as part of his re-election campaign.

“Sadly, that makes the Keychange movement even more relevant and important in Poland – it’s so important to take a stance for human rights, build bridges and strong support networks and it’s encouraging to see Keychange leading the way in our music industry.”

“With the dangerous politicisation of gender in Poland this year, Keychange is even more important in Poland”

Izabela Rekowska, Spring Break, says: “Our partnership with Keychange sets a tangible goal to achieve gender balance in our line-up. I truly advocate that more festivals should sign the Pledge and join the movement.”

The panel discussion, Artist on the barricades: Can music be a tool for social change?, will take place tomorrow (29 October) at Klubokawiarnia Tymczasowa (dawniej Meskalina) in Poznań with new ambassadors Avtomat and Karolina Czarnecka, as well as Iwona Skwarek (Rebeka) and Keychange participant Magda Chołyst (Artist in Bloom). The event will start at 6 pm and will be broadcast on Spring Break’s Youtube channel.

Speaking about her new role as ambassador, interdisciplinary artist Karolina Czarnecka says: “I grew up in Poland, a catholic and patriarchal society. It’s in my blood. It’s my heritage. Fortunately, I don’t know how, but there has always been freedom in my mind.

“Freedom is my truth. This is my everyday aim also in art. Everybody deserves it, without exception. Our words and actions have power, I believe we have influence on the world around us, even if it’s only our backyard.”

While, Avtomat, an openly queer composer, producer, DJ and vocalist, says: “I’m thrilled to be an ambassador for Keychange for the same reason I’ve been fighting against injustice in Poland – so that everyone can participate in the scene with equal chances.”

Since launching in 2017, Keychange has enlisted over 40 countries and over 350 organisations to the movement. The most recent slate of signatories includes UK booking agency ATC Live.

 


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