"In Australia, we see a lot of women and gender-diverse people making exciting, challenging and relevant music. It's inconceivable ... that these voices are deemed irrelevant"
Australian musicians' group the Listen Collective has criticised the organisers of this year's Vivid LIVE event in Sydney, with questions being raised over the number of female artists included in the 2015 line-up.
In a release issued this morning, the Collective — which operates shows, forums, activities and events across the country and counts among its members acts such as Beaches, Chicks On Speed, Love Of Diagrams and movement mastermind Pikelet, aka Evelyn Morris — presents an unfavourable picture of the breakdown of this year's Vivid LIVE line-up (featuring artists such as Flume, Sufjan Stevens and Morrissey) in terms of its gender balance, with women being outnumbered by men by a considerable margin.
"A cursory glance reveals 50+ acts consisting of a male performer or group, compared with two bands featuring women (The Drones and The Preatures) and one female solo act, George Maple," the Listen Collective wrote in its statement.
Morris herself described the line-up as "disappointing", especially considering Vivid LIVE "purports to be 'cutting-edge' and 'groundbreaking'", she said.
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"Within the Listen Collective, in Australia, we see a lot of women and gender-diverse people making exciting, challenging and relevant music," Morris said in her statement.
"It's inconceivable to me that these voices are deemed irrelevant, and it's truly mind-boggling that, when given access to a variety of musicians across the world, Vivid choose to book a line-up so lacking in diversity."
However, an Opera House spokesperson suggested that the orchestration of not just the Vivid LIVE line-up but the venue's wider year-long programming is more complex a matter than mere exclusion, telling theMusic.com.au today: "Vivid LIVE is the most concentrated part of the Opera House's extensive, year-round, curated contemporary music program, which consistently delivers an incredibly diverse roster of talent."
For example, they said, "The 2015 program features legendary figures, including Sinead O'Connor, Neneh Cherry, Mavis Staples, and Angelique Kidjo, with much more to come."
"As with any curatorial process, not least in the field of contemporary music, Vivid LIVE programming involves conversations with a wide range of potential artists, including leading women artists. The Opera House is not immune to scheduling conflicts.
"Vivid LIVE 2015 is a unique platform for presenting contemporary music's most influential musicians and extraordinary new talents in the most recognisable venue in the world. We are immensely proud of the 2015 program, which features a number of exclusive appearances and firsts."
Regardless of the reasoning, though, Morris suggests that the gender imbalance is an issue that must transcend logistical difficulties to be a crucial part of any such artistic program.
"It is essential that women creating art and music are given a voice and a platform, especially considering the rise in violent crimes against women that we are seeing in the news on a daily basis," she said.
"Art is a way out of that heavy burden, a path to building communities and a way of providing support. It is crucial that this be acknowledged."