Addressing the gender gap in Adelaide’s music scene

By Sam Bradbrook.

Image Source: The Age

As the Australian music scene grows and evolves it is yet to solve its decades-old problem with gender equality.

Falls Festival is the latest institution to come under fire, after revealing a line-up that only included 11 women out of 100-plus artists.

It is a national trend that stretches down to local, city-based music scenes, and Adelaide is unfortunately no different.

Cassie Molnar is a female artist looking to make her way through the industry. She says her and her peers work in constant doubt.

“It’s a bit scary to see, you work hard but then you look and think there’s so few women making it,” Ms Molnar said.

“A lot of the gigs are friends helping friends, so that’s not the problem, but there are definitely less women than men.

“It [Falls Festival] has been playing on my mind, I don’t know if it’s financial, they don’t think females can sell enough tickets, but it’s worrying.”

According to Triple J’s Hack, festival line-ups in Australia have an average male representation rate of 68 per cent.

This is nearly triple the representation rate of females, which was listed at 23 per cent, with mix-gendered acts accounting for the remaining 9 per cent.

Secret Sounds, the promoters behind Falls Festival and Splendour in the Grass have a particularly poor record.

The 2016 iteration of both festivals had 68 per cent and 74 per cent male representation respectively.

Music SA is the institution tasked with nurturing music talent in South Australia; they run several initiatives to get more females involved in the industry.

This includes scholarship programs to female artists and 2018’s female only Girls to the Front program.

General Manager Lisa Bishop says that Girls to the Front will allow females learning music to flourish without the chance of males dominating the classroom.

“You find a lot in music classes that the boys go straight for the guitars and drums and the girls sit back,” Ms Bishop said.

“Everyone needs to address the gender gap… it’s not just industry but families need to change how they teach their children music.

“Girls are regularly encouraged to play the piano and explore pop music while males feel more comfortable exploring more genres.”

An APRA-AMCOS report in gender diversity found that 22 per cent of their membership is female, despite 45 per cent of recent music graduates being female.

Adelaide progressive metal band Cobra are one group leading the charge for gender equality in Adelaide with their gig GRL PWR.

GRL PWR was held on the 20th of October and featured a 75 per cent female line-up along with a range of LGBT acts from around the state.

Cobra drummer Jonty Czuchwicki said that males in the industry need to lead from the front to reach gender equality.

“We need an industry model where this is the norm and booking female and queer artists isn’t something that needs to be thought,” Mr Czuchwicki said.

“Everyone needs to have their voice heard; creativity and art can only progress so far if explored through a limiting lens.

“Not to mention the unethical, immoral and oppressive way that minorities are treated and exploited in a system that is dominated by men.”

Secret Sounds were approached for comment but did not respond.

Arts and Culture Lifestyle

The arts revival: led by Laura Gentgall

Image source: Girl Space and The Mill Adelaide

By Caitlin Tait

“I am stubborn and persistent,” Laura said, carrying the same strength as – while also tipping the hat to – American politician Elizabeth Warren, who only a few months ago was shunned for attempting to speak a letter written by Coretta Scott King, Martin Luther King Jr.’s late widow, on the Senate floor in Massachusetts.

Republican Mitch McConnell defended why he stopped Warren from speaking by saying, “She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.”

The phrase, “Nevertheless, she persisted” became something akin to a battle cry for feminists worldwide. Women everywhere stood in solidarity with Warren, proving the daily occurrence of how women are mistreated in any space.

Laura Gentgall, an Adelaide artist and curator, is the brains behind the idea Girl Space. Her commitment to creating safe spaces for female-identifying artists has proved worthwhile, as her last exhibition brought in hundreds of people at Hindley Street’s bar, Ancient World.

Putting on a show alongside Culture Club Magazine and Swirl Records, Gentgall curated pieces of art by Isabella Whittaker, Madison Rowe, Carly Kate Harvy, and Eleanor Green, at ‘The People Being The People’ party.

So, what gave the 20 year-old woman from Adelaide the confidence to start Girl Space?

“It’s very hard to be heard as a young woman a lot of the time. You get pushed aside and placed into little categories and shut down by a lot of people. But to be honest, the thing that gave me the confidence to start Girl Space was the fact that I personally believe in it,” Ms Gentgall said.

“As a woman, I’ve found that people are quick to label you as bossy or overbearing when you really believe in something and want to make it happen.”

With the world becoming more progressive and inclusive – including the discussion of non-gendered bathrooms in establishments like universities and people in the public eye using more inclusive language – there is more of a want and need for safe spaces for minority groups.

Exploring this idea, Gentgall explains why Girl Space is for female-identifying artists only.

“Safe spaces are important – especially for women – because we’ve often been robbed of them,” she said.

In a patriarchal society, women are taking back what is also ours, and also finding spaces just for us. Gentgall has created Girl Space as a physical place for women to exist safely, knowing they will not be threatened or mistreated.

“In an ideal world, we wouldn’t need safe spaces because the whole world would be one … [But] we need them because it’s hard as a female artist to find galleries and shows that take female artists as seriously as male artists. We need them because in major permanent collections in the western world, female artists make up only 3-5 per cent,” she said.

In a 2013 study taken in London by The White Review, out of the 134 commercial galleries in the city, only 5 per cent were found to host an equal amount of men and women. By creating a place for women only, Laura hoped it would bring confidence to and encourage female artists to go forth and keep exhibiting after Girl Space.

“I think that it’s important to have female-only shows because the other artists empower each other so much – they learn from each other and really boost each other up and I love seeing that happen,” Ms Gentgall said.

“As a young artist, it’s super intimidating and frightening to approach galleries to show your work. My hope is that by taking away that initial fear for artists, they’ll grow in confidence and eventually want to approach people on their own.”

With galleries favouring men, whenever a woman’s art is exhibited, it is another success for women worldwide.

Every achievement breaks another glass ceiling when you’re a woman.

Laura could very well be Adelaide’s answer to a Guerrilla Girl; an activist for women’s rights and fighting for equality in the art world.

At ‘The People Being The People’ party, it was a celebration of Adelaide’s youth arts community. And that’s what it is: a community.

The number of people that walked through the doors and stayed until close shows that Laura’s idea and supporters go far beyond friends and family of the artists.

It begs the question of whether Adelaide is on the cusp of an indie revolution –young people fighting for the arts and proving that live music, print media, and art exhibitions are not only still wanted, but thriving.

The wave of young creatives include Sam Little, writer for The Adelaidian who comes out with monthly gig guides and frequent music reviews; Jay Garland, bassist and singer in Samsara; musician Nicole O’Rielley; model Whitney Castree; women behind the lens Josephine Ainscough and Indigo Cherry; and magazine editors Lili Harrison and Ruby Healey with Culture Club Magazine.

“Adelaide’s art scene has grown exponentially in recent years… although we are a small city, I think that there are many advantages to that. Being an artist in a small city enables you to be closer to other artists around you… it also means that it’s easier to get your name out there,” Ms Gentgall said.

Live music is being played almost every night down Hindley or Rundle Street by local bands who make music that begs for attention. Nights of cheap beer and clothed in denim, there is always art hanging on the walls of these pubs and bars, and often the people filling the dark halls are people from the arts community showing their support for local talent. Friday nights feel like a flashback into a time that our parents lived through.

The twenty-somethings of this city are loud, talented, and have things to say. And all of it is worth hearing.

Is Adelaide, in all its small-city glory, about to lead the arts revival?

If it does, Laura will surely be at the head of the pack.

Arts and Culture