Women to Watch

Wednesday 10th March 2010

Today the government-funded Cultural Leadership Programme announced their inaugural Women to Watch list, celebrating 50 movers and shakers, and future leaders of the creative and cultural industries. Most of the women included work for charities and many for galleries or museums. We were surprised (or perhaps disappointed) by the lack of recognition of women working in the music industry received (Juliana Farha of www.dilettantemusic.com being one of the few women on the list doing something innovative and relevant to classical music).

This got us thinking about why this might be… Is music a harder sector to break into than other industries? Or are there just not enough women in positions enabling them to make an impact?

I can only think of one major London concert hall with a woman at the helm, and (unless you hail from Baltimore or Hamburg) how many women have you seen on the conductor’s podium this season?

When it comes to female performers, how many upcoming artists have we seen in the past few years that aren’t slim/blonde/glamorous/all of the above? It seems that to gain recognition, on the UK stage at least, talent is not the only thing required. Today’s rising male stars don’t seem to subscribe to this alluring, glamorous stereotype (except perhaps model and violinist Charlie Siem…).

Now, don’t think we’re going all feminist on you… it’s now time to wave our flags, shout ‘hooray’ and celebrate some women who are in fact breaking the proverbial glass ceiling. Of course, we are going to mention Juliana – the only women in the classical music industry on the Women to Watch list – whose website www.dilettantemusic.com has been broadening digital access to the genre and supporting music-making since 2008. In the Guardian today Charlotte Higgins commented on some ‘significant omissions’ from the list (Kathleen Soriano, exhibitions secretary at Royal Academy of Arts; curator Polly Staple; and Jackie Wylie of Glasgow’s venue The Arches).

More than half of the Metropolitan Opera’s Board of Directors are women; Pamela Rosenberg became the first female administrative director of the Berlin Philharmonic in 2006; and closer to home, some London-based organisations headed by women include London Symphony Orchestra, English National Opera and Wilton’s Music Hall.

The Cultural Leadership Programme’s research suggests that male leaders in creative and cultural industries outnumbered female leaders by two and a half to one in 2009. So let’s hope the inaugural women to watch list inspires future female leaders in our sector in 2010. As young women working in the arts, we at WildKat PR will not be burning our bras at feminist protests outside the Barbican calling for more women in positions of power, but we do hope to see dramatic change in our sector, and look forward to following the careers of CLP’s Women to Watch.