Festival headliners 'failing to reflect UK music scene's diversity'

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Britain's top music festivals are consistently failing to book headline acts that reflect the diversity of the UK music scene, new research suggests.

Around six in seven top spots are being filled by all-male acts this year - almost exactly the same proportion as 10 years ago.

And only a third of headliners feature at least one black, Asian or minority ethnic (BAME) performer - despite half of this year's number one hit singles coming from BAME artists.

A Tribe Called Quest and Jay Z are two of just nine BAME acts handed headline slots this summer compared to 18 all-white groups or performers at events including Glastonbury and Reading and Leeds.

Meanwhile, headline appearances by singer-songwriter PJ Harvey at Green Man and US pop star Pink at V Fest are the only ones by all-female acts.

When considering groups with at least one female member it rises to four with Arcade Fire's headline slot at Isle Of Wight earlier this month and The xx topping the bill at Bestival in September.

The investigation by the Press Association, also shows that:

:: Of 321 headline acts at the biggest festivals over the past ten years, 89 included at least one member who was BAME, while just 47 were all-female or included at least one woman.

:: Green Man scored best for the number of female artists with just under one in three headliners including at least one woman, yet just 9% of those were BAME.

:: 80% of Glastonbury's headliners in the past decade have been men and 70% have been white, while Download's top artists have been 100% male.

Chair of UK Music's Diversity Taskforce, Keith Harris, called the findings "unsurprising" and said festival organisers were "cutting huge out huge sections of the population" with their top slot choices.

He encouraged concert organisers to act if they want to attract new audiences, telling the Press Association: "People have got to open their minds.

"They (female acts) clearly have fans out there and if you put them on the bill they will clearly bring an audience and in some cases they will bring a new audience, because a lot of the male headliners have been round eight or nine times."

He suggested giving a grime artist a headline slot at a festival would likely "sell a lot of tickets". It comes as the genre - born from BAME musicians in London in the early 2000s - enjoyed a near-double in sales over the past year.

The research looked at the main stage headliners of traditional weekend camping festivals.

Data from Glastonbury, Reading and Leeds, Bestival, Isle Of Wight, Download, T In The Park, V Fest, Latitude, Green Man and Boardmasters since 2007 was compiled by the Press Association with current artist information as far we could ascertain.

In a statement responding to the findings, Bestival acknowledged they have an "opportunity and a responsibility to help rebalance the male dominance of festival line-ups".

They said they would be making their lead DJ stage - The Temple - a 50/50 balance of male and female DJs in 2018.

The statement added: "Bestival consistently books female headliners when they are in the market - from Florence to Bjork - but there is a disproportionate amount of female to male headliners. To help more females rise to the top, the playing field should be levelled out throughout a festival line-up and not just focused on headliners."