A summer music festival in the coastal town of Percé, Quebec, has been caught off guard by the backlash it has received from people across the province, after announcing three days of performances that will not did not contain any feminine acts.
Popular folk singer Émile Bilodeau, one of the festival’s headliners, has pulled out of the three-day event scheduled for July 27-30, and many other people in the music industry are criticizing the lineup entirely. masculine.
“If you only hire one type of person for your festival, I’m sorry, but it’s not an equal opportunity,” said Emily Skahan, a Quebec musician who performs in English and French. under the stage name Georgette.
“You can only name two women [who were contacted]. I challenge Festi-Plage to name me the other women they have called to see if they are available.”
After the lineup was released last Thursday, Skahan expressed his frustration on social media. She says it only took her a few minutes to type out a long list of female artists from Quebec that the festival could have approached.
Skahan says it’s disheartening to see women left behind, especially after feeling there has been progress in the wake of the #MeToo movement, followed last year by a wave of denunciations and criticism. allegations of sexual misconduct against several Quebec artists.
“Why is this even a conversation? It’s so outdated,” she said.
The festival “didn’t see it coming”
On Wednesday, the festival posted a statement on Facebook, saying its efforts to provide inclusive programming that represents the diversity of Quebec’s cultural scene have failed.
Festival president Ghislain Pitre told CBC his team is made up of a dozen volunteers who have the daunting task of convincing festival-goers and artists to make the trip to Gaspésie.
“We’ve worked very hard to create a sufficiently varied lineup… [incorporating] different styles of music, to try to make everyone happy,” he said.
“However, we are aware of the fact that we forgot to include female artists. We didn’t see it coming. We regret it,” said Pitre. “But we didn’t do it on purpose.”
The festival says its organizing committee is “heartbroken” by Bilodeau’s decision to drop out and is looking for a female artist to take her place.
Pitre says they tried to renegotiate Bilodeau’s contract, offering more money to add a female opening act and other female performers to his show. But he says organizers decided to respect the musician’s decision to walk away after he continued to criticize the festival online.
Skahan says she’s glad Bilodeau has taken a stand and says he’s always spoken about creating space for women, Indigenous artists and other minority groups. While she says not all artists have the luxury of giving up the chance to perform at a festival, she says equal representation is something all artists should strive for.
“It’s a privilege to have a stage, an actual stage to stand on and deliver your message,” she said. “I implore everyone in the music industry to be better. Our job is to be the fabric of the province’s culture.”
The Member for Gaspé takes the floor
Méganne Perry Mélançon, Parti Québécois MP for Gaspé and the party’s spokesperson for the status of women, wrote an open letter expressing her disappointment with the programming but acknowledging the challenges of organizing events in her remote region.
“As a feminist, I was shocked,” she wrote. “In Quebec, we have a multitude of female artists capable of attracting crowds.”
Mélancon said Quebec should require arts and cultural events to achieve a certain level of representation to qualify for government funding. She said she would like the province to consider providing additional funding to organizations that demonstrate a commitment to diversity.
Pitre said the past week has been difficult for him and his team, but they plan to announce new additions to the roster in the coming days and try to move forward on a positive note.
“Next year, women will be well represented in our programming,” he said. “You can be sure of that.”