We took Women Make Music to parliament and held a round table at Portcullis House, to give Women Make Music grantees and industry professionals a chance to share their experiences and discuss further solutions with ministers and industry representatives. The roundtable included Women Make Music grantees, Anna Meredith, Mercury Prize nominated ESKA, Deirdre Gribbin and Hannah Kendall alongside MPs Caroline Dinenage, Minister for Women & Equalities and Mims Davies, Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Minister of State for Digital and Culture. It was hosted by Nigel Adams, Chair of APPG Music.
The discussion based on a five year evaluation of our Women Make Music fund at a round table meeting in Parliament on 1st March, endorsed the Women Make Music fund and acknowledged the importance and impact of targeted initiatives which support diversity and increase gender equality.
Following a broader discussion led by songwriters, composers and music industry representatives, we pledged to work in partnership with Government, Arts Council England, BBC and other industry bodies on further actions that would reduce the gender gap in music. These include:
Matt Hancock, Minister for Digital and Culture, has today echoed the importance of encouraging more women into the music industry by saying, “Music defines how we are seen as individuals, as communities, as a nation. I feel incredibly strongly about ensuring the music industry offers opportunities to all – with more women taking up careers as songwriters or composers, taking to the stage as performers, working behind the scenes as producers or taking the helm of major music companies. Government is currently undertaking a review of its Industrial strategy and we will make sure that industry findings feed into this.”
The Women Make Music Fund was created to draw attention to the gender gap between men and women in the music industry and increase the number of women creating new music in the UK. In 2011, just 13% of PRS for Music members were professional female songwriters and composers. Now in 2017, female membership sits at 16%.
The outcomes of the Women Make Music Fund speak for themselves. To date, the fund has:
The report found that over three-quarters (79%) of Women Make Music grantees – which consists of 157 female songwriters, composers and music creators including; Mercury-nominated ESKA, genre-defying composer and producer, Anna Meredith and Women of the Future Award winner Hannah Kendall – said the fund significantly helped their confidence by enabling them to grow their professional profile.
Grants are used to support a range of projects that help artists develop their careers, including tours, recordings and commissions. 82% of grantees secured more bookings following the grant and 85% said it would have been impossible for their project to happen without funding.
Women Make Music plays a vital and for some, a transformational, talent development role. Yet the music industry still poses a challenging environment for a large number of UK women, with 78% stating that they had experienced sexism in the industry.
The prevalence of gender imbalance highlights the importance of the Women Make Music Fund, which plays a key role in building confidence, supporting career development and positively endorsing female talent. This is where Women Make Music has had its most powerful impact: drawing attention to gender issues, whilst demonstrating that with a small amount of investment and support, the music industry can change and back female talent to succeed.
Vanessa Reed, Chief Executive of PRS for Music Foundation said, “The impact of the Women Make Music fund over the past five years demonstrates how powerful and inspiring targeted funding initiatives can be. Not only is it a hugely popular programme, but a transformational one which has introduced us to new talent and positively impacted the careers of over 150 female songwriters, composers and music creators. We’re pleased that the findings of our evaluation are being discussed in Parliament today and that Matt Hancock (Minister for Culture and Digital) and Caroline Dinenage (Minister for Women, Equalities and Early Years) have shown their interest and support of this work. We look forward to working with government, other funders and industry partners to grow this fund so that we can reach more of the women who deserve our support and accelerate change in an industry which would benefit from increased representation of talented women.
“Women Make Music enables and encourages women to get the confidence they need to make steps to play live and record. It’s a unique opportunity to develop a career with the agenda being creative ambition first and foremost.”
ESKA is a Mercury Prize-nominated singer-songwriter from south east London who see’s the Women Make Music Fund as vital. Encouraged by a female colleague, ESKA applied to Women Make Music having sought advice from the PRS Foundation. In 2013, the grant supported her Gatekeeper tour across the UK. This was her first EP released on her own label Earthling Records which set the ball rolling for her solo career. The EP received huge critical acclaim. BBC Radio 6’s Gilles Peterson called her “one of the most important singers in the UK right now”. ESKA’s first full-length album, the eponymous ESKA, was released in 2015 and nominated for the Mercury Music Prize.
“It meant I was able to release an EP and app I wouldn’t otherwise have been able to. This has secured me a year of DJ touring internationally.”
Victoria Christina Hesketh aka Little Boots, is a singer-songwriter and DJ. The Women Make Music grant supported the recording and mixing of an EP in 2015, a follow up to her critically acclaimed third album Working Girl. The lead single from the Women Make Music funded EP was premiered on The Line of Best Fit, and she finished 2016 with a huge American DJ tour. Victoria has been vocal in the press about sexism in the music industry and feels a dedicated fund for women in music is needed to help redress the balance of the underrepresentation of women across the music industry, particularly in fields like production. She would like to see more diversity on festival bills, more women in all areas of music industry, especially in A&R, production and DJing.
Women Make Music grants are available to any female music creator, with a professional track record of 18 months or more, whose project fits with PRS Foundation’s aims to enable talented music creators of any background to realise their potential.
To find out more visit: http://www.prsformusicfoundation.com/funding/women-make-music-2/