Over the past few years, gender equality activists have successfully pointed out the lack of representation of women, LGBTQIA+, POC and other minorities on Belgium’s event lineups. Our festival scene may be evolving in the right direction, but lineups remain very much dominated by white cis male artists.
Paradise City Festival wants to take a stand and take responsibility as a music festival. In that process, we first sat down and listened. We participated in informative sessions with our team to ensure everyone was aligned on the problems at hand. Gender equality is a crucial issue that needs to be addressed throughout the entire organization of a festival. It is a work in progress that requires time and needs to be set in motion as soon as possible.
One of the first things we did was change our booking strategy. Above all, we did not want to fall for obvious choices, i.e. booking mostly headliners you’ll see at many other events. We wanted to make sure that our lineup was more inclusive and balanced. For example, on our 2022 artist roster, 42% are female-identifying artists, 26% are POC. That is a significant increase compared to 2021, when those figures only reached 20% and 14%.
However, equality does not equal equity. Let’s break that down. Having a 50/50 gender-balanced lineup means nothing when all your headliners are male. In other words, if most of our key slots and budget go to male acts, filling up your lineup with female warm-up DJs is not going to cut it. We made sure representation runs through every segment of our artist lineup.
For the first time, we are also partnering up with rebel and Queer Future Club, two Brussels-based feminist platforms with a mission to diversify our music scene and counter gender stereotypes, for stage takeovers. Working with these organisations does not absolve us from making the necessary improvements ourselves, but it is the first step.
Furthermore, we are implementing a zero-tolerance stance against any form of discrimination or harassment in our festival, including but not limited to sexism, racism, homophobia, transphobia, body shaming and ableism – whether it’s towards our artists, our audience or someone from the crew. In this way, we aim to create a safer environment for both work and pleasure. Not only is our ground crew and security team thoroughly briefed, but we will have a team of dedicated and identifiable volunteers on our grounds who are approachable and offer a listening pair of ears when faced with any kind of issue you may encounter.
Finally, keep in mind that we are still educating ourselves every day. This is a process without a clear finish line. We remain open for discussion, and we are not afraid to admit mistakes and learn from them if they occur.
We invite you to listen to the incredible artists we have booked this year. Come and discover something new; we guarantee you will not be disappointed.