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 We must do better, as it sends an outdated message to the next generation about whose art and voice and message is valuable.”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“We must do better, as it sends an outdated message to the next generation about whose art and voice and message is valuable”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