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Women in Music at Southbank Centre

Southbank Centre is excited to be further developing its Women in Music strand, bringing together women from all spheres of classical and contemporary music to highlight issues faced by female professional musicians today.

We recognise a fundamental need to address the underrepresentation of women in music who often face struggles in gaining the same opportunities, recognition, financial equality and status afforded to their male counterparts.

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So many women in leadership roles here at Southbank Centre have really changed the future for women
Marin Alsop

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Maybe you’re asking, do women still need to fight for equality in music? Here are some statistics that prove why:

  • 78% of interviewees for PRS Foundation’s Women Make Music initiative said they had experienced sexism in the industry. Many felt pigeonholed, whether as performers rather than producers, or as sex objects rather than artists. Women Make Music Evaluation 2011 - 2016
  • Women only make up 43.2% of British orchestra players but are still underrepresented in principal positions (McClure, Kokot and Scharff, 2014).
  • Only 6.45% of composers at the BBC Proms were female (8 out of 124) and there were only four female conductors out of 62.(Women in Music survey, 2014)
  • Submissions to the 2016 British Composer Awards showed a bias towards male white composers. Only six out of 40 commissions in the Orchestral category were by women.
  • Out of 61 full-member orchestras in the Association of British orchestras, only four had female conductors in titled roles in 2016. There are 100 titled roles for conductors available (James Murphy, Managing Director of Southbank Sinfonia, 2017).
  • In the last 20 years, there have only been three female principal conductors of British orchestras (James Murphy, Managing Director of Southbank Sinfonia, 2017).
  • A survey of 11 artist management companies in Britain showed that out of 393 signed and represented conductors, 371 were male and only 22 were female (5.5%). Many highly experienced and respected female conductors were yet to be signed by artist management (James Murphy, Managing Director of Southbank Sinfonia, 2017)
  • On average only 15% of festival acts are female, while 78% are male (female: pressure, 2015 – 2017)

Southbank Centre is committed to providing forums for women in the music profession to network and creating platforms for women to perform. Women in Music gives opportunities for women to have their music performed and broadcast, and to working with our partners to encourage a balance of female conductors, composers and artists engage in their programmes.