UPDATE: The full 2018 UNIFY Gathering lineup has now been announced.
ORIGINAL STORY: UNIFY Gathering, which has previously been criticised for a lack of female acts on its roster, has issued a lengthy statement about gender diversity ahead of the announcement of its “incredibly special” 2018 lineup.
Unified Music Group, which operates UNIFY Gathering, was criticised last year after naming only two females on the festival’s 2017 lineup.
Today, before the 2018 UNIFY Gathering lineup arrives on Thursday, 31st August, Unified’s Chief Commercial Officer Luke Logemann has affirmed the company’s stance on gender-diverse lineups, while also revealing that five out of the 29 acts on the new UNIFY lineup will contain female members.
“When we booked that  lineup, we obviously never wanted to exclude anyone,” Logemann says.
“So why weren’t there more females on stage? Well, we simply just didn’t think about it. That’s in no way an excuse, but it’s just complete honesty. It hadn’t crossed my mind. I just booked the lineup I wanted and tried to put on the best show possible.”
Logemann says that while the controversy surrounding the 2017 lineup quickly subsided, it’s been on his mind ever since. Having spoken about it with female colleagues, he says he understands that “this isn’t about us and our festival”.
“It’s about a cultural shift and people starting to recognise things that have been happening in the world for as long as anyone can remember,” he says.
“Unfortunately, this long-winded diatribe is not concluding with me announcing that half of our lineup is female. I can’t tell you that we have a completely multi-cultural, gender balanced event across the board.
“But I can tell you that we’ve tried our best and that we have thought about it a lot. We made sure there was no shred of tokenism, and that we were booking every artist for the right reason. But we also made an effort to try and move this lineup in the right direction.”
Logemann says that while he and his team “are working with genres of music that are especially dominated by male members”, they have put together what he thinks is their “best lineup yet”, and have “managed to start making progress towards a more balanced look in the future”.
He also says Unified is continuing to work on including transgender and gender-diverse musicians on future lineups. Read his full statement, below.
Oh and if you missed it — UNIFY Gathering may have teased one of the acts on its 2018 lineup earlier this week.
Gallery: Unify Gathering 2017 / Photos: Nikki Williams
UNIFY Gathering Statement
As we get closer to the announcement of UNIFY 2018, I want to address our lineup and the ongoing conversation around gender inclusivity on festivals. When we announced UNIFY 2017, we got feedback from people both in the press and on social media that our lineup had a very disproportionate amount of males performing, and that only two of our announced bands had female members.
I think it goes without saying when we booked that lineup, we obviously never wanted to exclude anyone. As a company and as an event, we are all about equality and inclusivity. I can’t say that any more definitively. The words “community” and “diversity” are in our mission and vision for a reason, and we don’t take that lightly. So why weren’t there more females on stage? Well, we simply just didn’t think about it. That’s in no way an excuse, but it’s just complete honesty. It hadn’t crossed my mind. I just booked the lineup I wanted and tried to put on the best show possible.
If anything, the feedback that day blind-sided us. A huge amount of effort and conversation goes into planning a lineup and announcing a festival. The weeks leading into announce, everyone in our office helps get it out there in some way, and it’s a very special day for everyone involved. But in the early afternoon, we saw the first mention of the lineup imbalance, by the evening it had turned into a full-blown social media conversation on both sides. It gained steam and all of a sudden it was the only thing any of us were thinking about and looking into. The noise became deafening pretty quickly. There were intelligent people on both sides, and a few bad eggs on both sides as well. We read everything, and we stayed fairly quiet in the moment. Eventually (as in 24 hours) the whole thing blew over, the chatter died down and the event went ahead as planned. But we didn’t stop thinking about it.
I’d like to take a moment to explain how I personally felt on that day. My first instinct, admittedly, was not my best moment. I was angry at the people saying things about our event, and I wanted to tell them where to go. I can admit that, I’m only human and when I feel attacked, my first instinct isn’t always my best one. I got together with all the leaders in our group – women and men alike, and we talked it all out. Hearing this from a female perspective was exactly what I personally needed to really focus on why this conversation is so important. They explained that this isn’t about us and our festival. It’s about a cultural shift and people starting to recognise things that have been happening in the world for as long as anyone can remember. Most importantly, they said that I don’t really have a voice in this conversation right now – it’s about the people who feel the inequality talking and the rest of us listening.
Basically, I’m a white, middle class, heterosexual male from a wealthy country, and I’ve never been told before that I can’t express my opinion. I’ve been told to be brave and to talk whenever I want to about whatever I want to. Now there are conversations happening around race, gender and sexuality in which I don’t have a place to talk – I just have to listen. And the more I think about it, the happier that makes me. I’m more than happy to listen.
So, we worked together and made a general statement in response. We sent that off and didn’t put any more communication out there. We knew our best foot forward was action, and hard work. Then we got to work on our event and making it as inclusive as possible, while thinking forward to our 2018 event and how we could do better with everything.
Now, back to UNIFY 2018 and the lineup we’ve built. Unfortunately, this long-winded diatribe is not concluding with me announcing that half of our lineup is female. I can’t tell you that we have a completely multi-cultural, gender balanced event across the board. But I can tell you that we’ve tried our best and that we have thought about it a lot. We made sure there was no shred of tokenism, and that we were booking every artist for the right reason. But we also made an effort to try and move this lineup in the right direction.
We will have five acts with females in them out of the 29 playing UNIFY 2018.
To be honest, I do wish there was more than that, but we are working with genres of music that are especially dominated by male members. We put together what I think is our best lineup yet, and managed to start making progress towards a more balanced look in the future. Next year, we want to do better. And the year after, we’d like to improve it even more. We’re open to suggestions on artists you’d love to see.
I know there is still a discussion to be had about trans and gender diverse people, and their inclusion on the lineup. As far as I’m aware we don’t have any of these people playing UNIFY 18, but if I’m mistaken I do apologize. We’re open to suggestions on how to improve our knowledge here of suitable artists that might be worthwhile additions for UNIFY 19.
So why am I writing this? I’m writing it to give an honest view of how we feel and how we approached all of this. To make sure you know that everyone’s voices have been heard and we’re trying to do what we can to make our event a haven for good people who want to have a good time. We don’t have all the answers, but we will try.
We hope our fans and followers feel supported and above all else, heard. We hope you love the lineup like we do!
– Luke Logemann and the UNIFY Gathering team