Supporting Women in Composition: It’s about Talent not Tokenism

In a column for The Guardian, Susanna Eastburn–chief executive of Sound and Music, the national charity for new music in the UK–outlines why her organization is focusing on instituting changes that support the work of female composers. After noticing a “creeping negative shift in attitudes towards women” and an increasing gap at “every single stage of development,” Sound and Music’s concerns were not universally welcomed, with some programmers suggesting that “consciously including one or more works by women means that it is no longer just about the music.” Eastburn strongly counters that “it’s precisely because Sound and Music do care about quality that we care about this issue….[T]o mark International Women’s Day, Sound and Music are announcing that by March 2020, at least 50% of the composers we work with will identify as women.”

Eastburn further argues:

Although Sound and Music’s commitment is about gender equality, it is also part and parcel of our widening perspectives and the desire and intention to diversify the range of artists we work with. We’re confident that working with a more representative group of composers leads to a more thrilling variety of new music, more artistic innovation and also, perhaps, a positive and constructive challenge to an industry that can sometimes fall back on traditional ideas of what, or rather who, constitutes a composer.

Read her full comments on 50:50 by 2020 in The Guardian.

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