Arts

New database tackles diversity in WA’s arts industry

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Equality advocacy organisation Recycled Rainbow has released a database of female, non-binary, Indigenous and LGBTQI artists to encourage more diversity in the arts in WA.

Recycled Rainbow founder Maggie Bochat said she regularly asked local booking agents and bands to have more diverse lineups but realised she could share her connections in a more efficient way.

“It basically has the contact details of [assorted] artists and crew members who can help you out with booking a lineup or creating art that is diverse in representation,” she said.

“We need big databases and big public things that everyone is responsible for and that everyone is involved in.”

Melbourne band Camp Cope became part of the discussion surrounding lack of diversity on-stage after noticing a lack of female artists in the most popular time slots at Falls Festival earlier this year.

“We want an equal, inclusive and diverse music community … it’s bullshit and we’ve had enough of it,” Camp Cope frontwoman Georgia Maq said during their WA Falls set.

Ms Bochat said inclusive lineups were necessary to systematically change the power structures in place in the music industry.

“I truly believe that when we have representation of minority voices, in the media [and] positions of power, people are hearing a different experience [and] there will be change, ” she said

Cool Perth Nights booking agent Ellen Oosterbaan said promoters usually worked with a smaller group of people with whom they were familiar. They sometimes found it difficult to connect with other communities.

“It [the database] is brilliant… It’s an easy way for people to make the conscious decision to look outside of [their smaller group] and have the resource right there,” Ms Oosterbaan said.

“It removes the excuses that are often there [such as] ‘there were no bands available’ or ‘there were no bands within a certain genre’ because all of the information is there to access.”

Ms Oosterbaan said the database could set the standard for the kind of resources made available to the industry.

“A lot of the artists, [including] international and national touring artists, are becoming familiar with the resource,” she said.

“You’ve got artists like Alex Lahey and Courtney Barnett and Jen Cloher who come over to WA and use that resource and take it back over east to the different booking companies.

“It sets a precedent and an expectation.”

Perth hip-hop artist Suzie Leiasina, whose stage name is Hyclass, said the database’s continued growth would encourage others to get out there.

“It’s so important for there to be that diversity in lineups, to see it in numbers, to see it growing. It gives people more confidence,” she said.

The conversation surrounding diversity in line-ups continues to grow louder with Instagram accounts such as lineupswithoutmales calling for change, and results starting to show with lineups like the one at Splendour in the Grass this year.

#FBF Spilt Milk First Announce, Canberra 2016

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Ms Oosterbaan said it was important to create an inclusive industry that provided opportunities for everyone.

“The way to do that is by making clear that those opportunities will be there for you,” she said.

“Booking agents, signing agents, artists, punters and young people all need to be aware that artists are available.

“Because this idea of the boys club is still very much a thing, especially higher up, we need to bring in this new generation that is aware.”

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