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Festival Republic Relaunches 'ReBalance' Committing to Emerging Women and Non-Binary Artists

ReBalance was first begun in 2017 but halted at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

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Source: Berkshire Live / Darren Pepe/Newscom/The Mega Agency

Wolf Alice, Reading Festival, 2022.

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Melvin Benn, managing director of Festival Republic, is restarting the ReBalance initiative, a mentoring programme that commits to emerging women artists and those who expand notions of gender expression.

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Source: samxemma/bandcamp

Electronic duo samxemma from Manchester.

ReBalance, first begun in 2017 and halted at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, is now back on the agenda for Benn. In an interview with NME, he explained the reasoning for the enterprise and the community support needed for these musicians throughout the U.K.

"It's the easiest thing in the world to just put more women and non-binary people on a stage at a festival, but if the audience don't know them, they won't receive them well and that won't do their career any good. We have to start at that point of getting a decent recording so that people can start listening… then we can begin building an audience up through live performance."

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Source: Facebook

Genre defying Red Ivory from South East London.

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Benn emphasized that ReBalance is more than an opportunity to get up onstage at a festival, and it was only once he saw the impact the initiative had on the artists that he grasped the full importance of ReBalance. "To be honest, I hadn’t thought about inviting them to my festivals this year because it just hadn’t crossed my mind. But when I saw them all together, bubbling with excitement about what they were doing and how they could help each other, it made sense."

The six artists selected are a cross-genre of styles and platforms. Red Ivory, Mary O'Donnell, samxemma, Cruush, Sprout and Bebeluna aka XYRAK47 are each being paired with a noted producer and studio to cultivate their projects and be assisted in the recording process by a woman or gender-expansive professional, a point made by Benn that is crucial to being comfortable in a studio environment.

"So part of the commitment I have is to do everything I can to ensure that there is better access to female and non-binary engineers and producers. Through that, there's no breakdown of communication and it allows for that feeling of inspiration. That’s something that we're working really hard for."

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Source: marieke macklon

Rising solo artist Sprout from Burnley.

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The future of the program is one of recognizing inclusivity and fostering the potential these artists have for obtaining recognition within the music industry at large. Benn acknowledged that change is slow, however, he reaffirmed that the music community is working its way to acceptance.

"There's plenty of work to be done, of course, but it's a really positive sight, seeing the line-ups now. It's not changing as fast as many of us would like it to. I’m still very encouraged about it for the future – 100 percent."

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