Is There Enough Representation At Music Festivals?
Purity Zinhle Mkhize, who performs solo as PURE, recently made a comment online in regards to the representation at South African music festivals. The musician, who was previously in the bands Fruits & Veggies and The Pranks, highlighted that in the 13 years she’s been in the industry she’s noticed that the majority of festivals she’s played locally featured line-ups made up of predominantly white artists.
Furthermore, she added that the booking of black artists at certain festivals is a vain act made in attempt to make the festivals seem like they are representative of our country and creating inclusive spaces for all races. Her comment which was ignited following the announcement of the first round of acts at Endless Daze Festival read as follows:
WHITE DOMINATED MUSIC FESTIVALS.
How many? Well ive been a performing artist for about 13 years now and I can confidently say that from the festivals ive played in this country 99% of them were all white dominated line-ups. Which I never questioned at the time because it’s normal right? To be the token black band that makes everyone feel like they are still in Africa and are being sooooo open minded about keeping those collaborative spaces inclusive?
Today I went on Psych Night & Vans present: Endless Daze 2018 website just to check out the first round line-up announcement for this year….ALL WHITE! I was perusing also with the intention of wanting to submit my EPK but this just turned me right off and made me realise so much about the music festivals ive played over the years and how much of it ive just complied and excepted just so I can have a stage to be heard on. This country is oozing with people of colour killing it in the underground scene and the festivals in this country are still designed to support and highlight white talent at large?? ARE WE NOT GONNA TALK ABOUT THIS? ARE WE JUST GONNA NORMALIZE THIS BEHAVIOUR?
Please realise that while you’re being exclusively up your own asses that this in turn suppresses our efforts and this doesn’t heal or help grow anything!!! But builds further psychological walls in our social spaces! #ENOUGH
At the core of her remark was a plea for promoters and festival to create inclusive environments which are representational of the country we live in regardless of any genre based barriers. With support in the form of comments from many who agreed, one of the organisers, Simon Berndt responded in defence whilst acknowledging their shortcomings:
We are saddened to see that you have been left with a bad impression of our first lineup announcement, but we acknowledge that your comments deserve proper attention. Please bare in mind that this is only the first wave acts that are confirmed, and it should not read as an overall marker of what’s to come…
In terms of the composition of the bill, as an organisation and as people: we do not condone prejudice or any behaviour that leads to discrimination. We are aware that there is not more representation of acts with persons of colour, and this is a challenge that we are constantly striving to overcome as an organisation. With that said, we do not book bands based on skin colour; we book bands based on a living track record of performances, referral within the music industry, material released and most importantly: the sound and quality of what is being played. The sonic curation of any good festival is incredibly difficult, and even more so when it plays under the umbrella of the music that we promote. It is near impossible for us as organisers to keep our finger on the many musical beats of South Africa, and this is why we need to push harder as festival. We need to raise awareness, and breed belief in creative outlets that defer from ‘defined’ social norms. Whether one of those outlets is Endless Daze, or not, is entirely the artist’s choice.
Psych Night started from the love of music and evolved to deliver encouragement and support to South African bands, with the hopes of developing a music culture that is different from the fundamental industry genres. We are still a small community and, with anything that is growing, there are phases that slowly allow for more diversity. We want criticism, even if it hurts, and we want to know more of what is happening in South Africa and for South Africa to know more about us. Endless Daze is not a closed-door enterprise. As a performer, we encourage you to submit your act to us because we want to learn. We know that the true solution to the issue you have raised cannot be solved overnight, but we are trying our best to see and to listen to more. If you can help us in this endeavour, we would be highly appreciative. In part, you have already illuminated the challenge, and we thank you for that. We hope we have addressed your frustration to some degree, and that you will see our festival as a positive platform. If you would like to discuss this further, please get in touch with us personally.
In your opinion, do you feel that festivals do enough to create inclusive spaces and play a role in building towards the so-called rainbow nation?
Which are those festivals that are doing it right? Is there a right way or a wrong way?
What more could be done and who does the responsibility lie with?
What’s The Fuss?