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9am 25th June 2019

200+ music organisations commit to Keychange 50/50 pledge


Keychange pledge now open to any music organisations who want to take positive action towards gender parity in music including conservatoires, orchestras, broadcasters, concert halls, agents, labels, and venues.

Latest signatories include English National Opera, Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, Southbank Centre, Bella Union, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, De Doelen, Sage Gateshead, Ivors Academy, and the Barbican 


The UK’s PRS Foundation, announces today (25th June 2019) with European partners at the Swedish Ambassador’s Residence in London, that it is extending the global and groundbreaking Keychange 50/50 festival pledge to include conservatoires, orchestras, broadcasters, concert halls, agents, labels and any music organisations seeking to achieve a better gender balance in the industry.

Since the launch of the Keychange pledge in 2018, more than 180 festivals have signed up and committed to programming gender balanced line-ups by 2022. In December 2019, the initiative received the Award for Innovation at the SIM Awards in Sao Paulo, Brazil. PRS Foundation CEO and founder of Keychange, Vanessa Reed accepted the award, which celebrates and highlights new tools and initiatives that change the market with technology, research and social transformation. More recently, Keychange was awarded the Classical: NEXT Innovation Award, which is designed to place the spotlight on forward-thinking activities taking place around the world.
Building on this incredible start, PRS Foundation is now amplifying the Keychange initiative by opening the gender balance pledge more widely to include conservatoires, orchestras, broadcasters, concert halls, agents, labels to acknowledge that the gender gap is an industry-wide challenge. For example, by working with the Resonate database which documents orchestral works commissioned by British orchestras in the past 25 years, PRS Foundation has learnt that only 13% of these works were commissioned from female composers. 

In a behind-the-scenes soft launch of the extended 50/50 pledge, over 50 leading music industry organisations have signed up, shaping the pledge to suit their organisation. e.g. by working towards achieving gender balance for composers commissioned, youth company participants, players, board members, award judges, panellists and other aspects of their organisation or company development.

New Keychange signatories are: AMAEI, Barbican Centre, BBC Concert Orchestra, BBC National Orchestra and Chorus of Wales, BBC Philharmonic, BBC Symphony Orchestra, BDI Music, Bella Union, Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, Bucks Music Group, Cicle ContraBaix, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, City of London Sinfonia, Come Play With Me, Contemporary Music For All, Coventry City of Culture Trust, De Doelen, English National Opera, EXAUDI Vocal Ensemble, FIMI, Gravy Records, Kings Place, Leeds College of Music, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, London Contemporary Orchestra, London Sinfonietta, Mexican Summer, Musik i Syd, NMC Recordings, Opera North, Orchestras Live, Philharmonia Orchestra, Queen Margaret Union - University of Glasgow, Record Play, Red Grape Music, Riot Ensemble, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Royal Northern College of Music, Royal Opera House, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic Society, Sage Gateshead, Sinfonia Viva, Sound And Music, Sunday Best, The Chineke! Foundation, The Third Orchestra, Tomorrow’s Warriors, Trinity Laban, Tŷ Cerdd, Uppsala Konsert & Kongress, and Vara Concert Hall.

The extended initiative encourages all Keychange signatories to achieve meaningful change by undertaking a pledge towards targets which are relevant to their individual set-ups. See full list of signatories

For example:

  • Orchestras could use the 50/50 target for composers commissioned and/or number of players, no. of principal players, balance of senior staff
  • Concert halls could look at line-ups on stage or other aspects of their organisation eg. senior staff, backstage staff
  • Conservatoires could look at students, lecturers, senior staff teams, live music programmes, visiting musicians
  • Agents, publishers and labels may want to look at the balance of artists they sign
  • Other charities or trade bodies could also consider the make-up of their Board and staff whilst pledging to encourage its members to sign up to Keychange as well
  • Broadcasters could use the pledge to look at the guests they invite onto their shows or presenters and music broadcast
  • Publications and those employing editorial staff could apply the Keychange pledge when commissioning writers, editors, photographers etc.
  • Organisations with youth groups or education programmes may also want to apply a Keychange pledge to this area of their work


Speaking on the extended Keychange initiative, Vanessa Reed, CEO of PRS Foundation and Founder of Keychange, said: 

“It’s really encouraging that major music organisations and independent companies are demonstrating their commitment to gender equality in music alongside hundreds of festivals worldwide. From world leading concert halls and orchestras to Bella Union, (the first indie label to approach us), pledge signatories are creating an industry wide movement. This will increase choice, quality and opportunity for future generations of music lovers, industry professionals, music creators and artists.”

Alexander Schulz, who came up with the idea of the Keychange 50/50 gender pledge, and is CEO and Founder of Reeperbahn Festival said:

“In 2017, when we launched the Keychange program at Reeperbahn Festival, we also declared our intention to present balanced line-ups on festival stages and conference stages by 2022. For us it was crucial, that we have a clear vision of our goals and transparent parameters to count the change. With this initiative we installed another helpful tool on the long road towards change for the entire music industry. Since then more than 150 festivals worldwide have joined the pledge of 50:50 by 2022. This is much more than we were expecting and a wonderful add on to the original Keychange program. It’s a logical step in equal measures that the initiative has now been transferred to neighbouring businesses within the music industry and the media. We are very much looking forward to see the change in a broader way.”

Keychange Ambassador and CBSO Conductor, Mirga Grazinyte-Tyla said:

“Being a female conductor I’ve probably heard the question “How is it to be a female conductor?” more than any other question during my life so far so I’m absolutely aware that as a society we still do have the work to be done for the right balance. I am glad and very proud to be a Keychange ambassador as well as, with the whole City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, we are proud to sign up to the Keychange pledge."

Keychange is a pioneering international initiative, led by PRS Foundation and supported by the Creative Europe programme of the European Union, which is empowering women to transform the future of the music industry to achieve a 50:50 balance by 2022. 

In November 2018 the initiative undertook a landmark step towards achieving its goal of encouraging a gender-balanced music industry worldwide. In collaboration with Keychange festival partners, Vanessa Reed (CEO of PRS Foundation and BBC Radio 4 Woman’s Hour’s 3rd Most Powerful Woman in Music) presented a manifesto for change at the European Parliament in Brussels, with the aim of increasing and sustaining representation of women in the music industry. 

Originally set up as a talent development programme for 60 artists and innovators, Keychange has quickly become a global movement for festivals which want to demonstrate their commitment to achieving a better gender balance across their stages for the next generation of artists and fans. 

With the extended initiative now in motion, Keychange aims to further demonstrate the positive impact of targeted investment in female talent and the demand for change amongst the current generation of artists and music industry professionals forging a career in music. 





For all enquiries contact Full Fat:
Dulcie Mackechnie  // 02071839525 //


About PRS Foundation
PRS Foundation is the UK's leading charitable funder of new music and talent development. Since 2000 PRS Foundation has given more than £32 million to over 6,800 new music initiatives by awarding grants and leading partnership programmes that support music sector development. Widely respected as an adventurous and proactive funding body, PRS Foundation supports an exceptional range of new music activity – from composer residencies and commissions to a network of talent development partners and showcases in the UK and overseas. | @PRSFoundation

About Keychange
Keychange is a pioneering international initiative which transforms the future of music whilst encouraging festivals and music organisations to achieve a 50:50 gender balance by 2022. 60 emerging artists and innovators from across Europe will be invited to international festivals to take part in a series of showcases, collaborations and a programme of creative labs. Backed up by an innovation fund for the network to test new projects and ideas, Keychange aims to accelerate change and create a better more inclusive music industry for present and future generations.
Keychange is led by PRS Foundation, supported by the Creative Europe programme of the European Union, in partnership with Musikcentrum Sweden, Reeperbahn Festival, Iceland Airwaves, BIME, Tallinn Music Week, Way Out West, Liverpool Sound City and Mutek. Find out more



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