For Oslo World, working for the greatest possible diversity, whether we are talking about gender, genre or origin, is at the heart of the festival. Our job is in many ways to level out this landscape, and in that way expand what both the audience and artists think is possible. What they can expect. In the long run, increased diversity on stage is an investment in a larger, more varied audience and in a larger supply of interesting artists. There is a lot of work left, not least behind the scenes, in technical crews and in the artistic management of festivals.
Oslo World is a partner festival in the pioneering international initiative Keychange, which works systematically to transform the future of the music industry. Keychange 1.0 was launched by the PRS Foundation in London in 2017 and quickly gained a number of major festivals and supporters. The project simply encourages festivals and music organizations to achieve a 50/50 gender balance by 2022. We are then talking about gender balance in all stages of production.
Oslo World was among the very first festivals to sign the pledge in 2017. In the 2.0 project, which was launched in the autumn of 2019, the ambitions were extended to apply to several forms of representation - both gender, sexuality and place of origin. Oslo World went from being one of the festivals that signed the appeal, to becoming one of 13 partner organizations.
Today, more than 300 music institutions and organizations have signed the pledge. Record labels, festivals and clubs, as well as orchestras, are behind the initiative. In 2019, Keychange applied for support from the European Commission and was granted a significant amount via the Creative Europe program. Oslo World has since then also acquired Talent Norway and Norsk Tipping as partners.
The cliché, when confronted with male overrepresentation in a festival program, is to say that it is simply too difficult to change it. That there is not enough female talent, or that it is financially difficult to aim for an even balance. There is no doubt that festival booking is a difficult act of balance, in every way. But many of the festivals that are close to achieving the goals set by Keychange, also lead in other areas, with some of the most interesting booking profiles. It is obvious that these festivals do not see the goal of gender balance as a requirement that is isolated from other goals, be it artistic or financial - or something that needs to be compensated for. It is rather the case that the balance target becomes another tool in the job of getting better at all these points. It is a clear reminder to look for the next great artists, for new musical opportunities - and in that way continue to stay relevant to the audience.
Keychange emphasizes talent development, collaboration and making resources available. In December 2019, the 13 partner festivals gathered in London and selected 74 artists and innovators from all over Europe and Canada, who in the coming years will participate in international festivals and industry events, collaborate and participate in an international development program, lead by Keychange. The first six Norwegian participants who were selected are: Ella Marie Hætta, Miss Tati, Charlotte Bendiks, Amira Morstaq Ali, Kine Lundevall and Jenny Gunn.
Today and until 2023, Keychange is led by Reeperbahn Festival, PRS Foundation and Musikcentrum Öst, supported by the Creative Europe program in the EU, in collaboration with Oslo World, Tallinn Music Week, Iceland Airwaves, BIME, Linecheck / Music Innovation Hub, Ireland Music Week, SACEM, Liverpool Sound City, Way Out West, Spring Break, MAMA, Mutek and Breakout West.