Friday, March 03, 2017

PRS Women Make Music: Stunning impact revealed

Composer Hannah Kendall, one of the 157 musical creators
supported by the fund so far
Five years ago the PRS for Music Foundation created a fund called Women Make Music, designed to encourage more female creators to step up for funding, make their mark on the airwaves and become role models for the future. The grants support tours, recording, commissions and other projects that develop female musicians' careers. The results of the first five-year evaluation have just been revealed during a parliamentary round-table session and the numbers make for stunning reading.

79% said the grant helped their confidence by helping to grow their professional profile.
82% described the creative impact as significant or very significant.
82% secured more bookings after receiving the grant.
64% secured new commissions after receiving the grant.
85% said their project could not have happened without this funding.
78% said they had experienced sexism in the music industry. Classical composers pointed to a lack of female role models; those of other genres described the industry as male dominated, lacking recognition of what women contribute and achieve. Many reflected that there is pressure on women to conform to a sexy, beautiful image. Some performers said they had been made to feel like sex objects instead of artists.

The fund so far has had:
1,300 applications
£522,790 given in grants
157 individuals funded
£3,513 average increase in grantees' income
£3,600 was the average grant, therefore...
• ...100% approx, return on investment.

Vanessa Reed, chief executive of PRS for Music Foundation, said:
‘The impact of the Women Make Music fund over the past five years demonstrates how powerful and inspiring targeted funding initiatives can be. Not only is it a hugely popular programme, but a transformational one which has introduced us to new talent and positively impacted the careers of over 150 female songwriters, composers and music creators.
‘We’re pleased that the findings of our evaluation are being discussed in Parliament today and that Matt Hancock (minister for culture and digital) and Caroline Dinenage (minister for women, equalities and early years) have shown their interest and support of this work. We look forward to working with government, other funders and industry partners to grow this fund so that we can reach more of the women who deserve our support and accelerate change in an industry which would benefit from increased representation of talented women.’
Now the PRS for Music Foundation as a whole aims to achieve a 50:50 balance of male:female creator applicants by 2022.

You can read the whole report here.

The next wave of applications is now open and you can apply by 8 March. Details here.

As an addendum, here is the final section of the report:

This evaluation concludes that ideally, Women Make Music would not be necessary and that the music industry would be gender neutral in talent progression. But the music industry does not operate in isolation. Many of the challenges for women in the music industry are part of much wider societal challenges of gender discrimination and sexism.
The place to start overcoming these is in schools, giving girls the confidence to overcome the barriers and crucially letting them know that careers in all parts of the music industry are possible for women. However, for women who’ve embarked on a career, support like Women Make Music is equally crucial and still required. This fund has had a significant impact. It has responded to a specific imbalance in the professional
landscape of the music industry; and it has done something about it. The challenge going forward is:
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To continue to highlight gender issues in the music industry and to influence others to work collaboratively for change
To nurture female talent through targeted interventions if the sector as a whole is not sufficiently inclusive
To work toward a situation where the success of such approaches renders them obsolete because the industry is investing in talent of all backgrounds and women and men are putting themselves forward in at least comparable numbers.
There is a long way to go and for the foreseeable future, Women Make Music and other initiatives which support female talent, will be vital for a healthy, inclusive and innovative music industry.