Gender politics, UK jazz festivals and COVID-19

Maintaining the momentum of change during a time of crisis


  • Sarah Raine University of Limerick



gender, jazz festivals, COVID-19, diversity, women


Music festivals offer a valuable glimpse into the state of the current musical landscape. Through them we can follow the career trajectories of particular artists, spot genre trends and divergences, identify connections and differences, and make sense of emerging scenes. Equally, music festivals lay bare the continued inequalities that exist; inclusions and absences are starkly visible in festival line-ups, and marketing and communications provide inspiration for public debate and the fuel for change. For scholars, festivals offer a context through which to examine the complex politics of music, condensed into a specific time and place yet engaging with global trends and debates, with international artists and audiences, with the past and the future, all within the economic and social context of the music industries. From spring 2020, we could clearly plot through music festivals the global impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on live music as we have previously known it, the government-driven lockdowns and social distancing regulations bringing an abrupt halt to live performance and threatening the existence of many music festivals. This period of disruption extended also to the outreach, education, artist development, fundraising, partnership working, and overall strategies of festival teams, to include festival-driven and global attempts to address significant issues relating to access and diversity within the music industries. This article explores gender politics from the stage of UK jazz festivals and considers the momentum of gender-focused initiatives during a period of international crisis.

Author Biography

Sarah Raine, University of Limerick

Sarah Raine is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance, University of Limerick, working on FestiVersities—a HERA funded research project. Sarah is also the co-Managing Editor of Riffs, a Book Series Editor for Equinox Publishing, and the new Editor for Jazz Research Journal (alongside Nicolas Pillai).


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How to Cite

Raine, S. . (2021). Gender politics, UK jazz festivals and COVID-19: Maintaining the momentum of change during a time of crisis. Jazz Research Journal, 14(2), 183–204.