Updated: Dec 13, 2019
The Queen Margaret Union (QMU) is one of two students' unions at the University of Glasgow and the first live venue in Scotland to sign the Keychange 50/50 pledge.
We were originally established in 1890 as the Queen Margaret College: one of the first colleges in the world to provide higher education to women at a time when the University of Glasgow was male-only. In 1968 we moved to our current home at 22 University Gardens where we have been operating as a 900 capacity live venue for over 50 years.
The QMU has a very long tradition of promoting equal rights across all aspects of our work: from QMU members taking part in the suffragette movement in the early 20th century, to voting to allow men to join the Union in 1979, to being the first building on campus with gender neutral toilets, and so on. In the continuing fight for equality, signing up to Keychange feels like a natural next step for us and being the first music venue in Scotland to do so marks another significant step forward.
What is Keychange?
Keychange is a pioneering international gender equality campaign which invests in emerging talent whilst encouraging festivals, conferences and a growing range of music organisations and institutions such as ourselves to commit to a 50/50 by 2022 gender balance pledge.
A BBC study discovered that in 2017, 80% of festival headliners were male - totally failing to reflect the diversity of the UK music scene. Sadly these imbalanced figures can be found across the music industry.
Formed by PRS Foundation to address the imbalance, in the two years since Keychange has been running they have so far had over 130 festivals from 23 countries sign up. Read their manifesto here.
As a Keychange Associate Venue, the QMU have pledged:
to ensure that our 2019 and all future Freshers' Week line-ups are 50/50
to aim for 50/50 gender balance across all of our internally-ran events by 2022
to encourage our members to sign-up to the pledge (including the creation of a Keychange Champion position)
to encourage promoters and bookers who use our venue to sign-up to the pledge
to encourage our colleagues at the University of Glasgow to sign-up to the pledge
to encourage gender diversity in our senior management positions and aim to eradicate any gender pay gap by 2022
Keychange include all women, trans and non-binary performers in the 50% target.
Already this year Primavera Sound Festival managed to achieve a 50/50 line-up and a further 45 UK events have pledged to do the same. We believe that as a well-known venue in the Scottish music-scene, and one with a uniquely female heritage, we are well placed to be a promoter of gender equality in the music industry. 50/50 is achievable and it is the future.
By Freshers' Week 2019 (September 13th - 21st) we aim to have set-up a page on our website where people can find out more information about Keychange and how you can help us to fight for equality in music.
Courtney Hughes, QMU President 19/20 had this to say:
"I am excited that my first act as QMU President 19/20 is pledging our support to this incredibly important initiative.
The fight for equality - whether in the class room or on stage - is absolutely integral to who we are as an organisation. We hope that by signing Keychange, and pledging to achieving gender parity at our internally-run events, including Fresher’s Week and beyond, that we'll be able to set an example in the music scene whilst tying our feminine heritage to our musical legacy.
Here’s to giving women, transgender and non-binary people the representation and equality they deserve!"
How can you help?
Join the Keychange QMU Subcommittee Group on Facebook and help start the conversation on how we make this pledge a reality.
Tell your friends and colleagues about what we are doing: let's get everyone talking about Keychange and equality [Tweet using #Keychange.]
Sign the pledge yourself: visit www.keychange.eu to find out more.