OPINIONS

Frost Festival: A response to the Women’s Community Center

To Whom It May Concern:

The Stanford Concert Network (SCN) would like to respond to the Op-Ed piece, “Frost Festival ices women out: an open letter to the Stanford Concert Network” that appeared in The Stanford Daily on Friday, May 16.

Lack of representation of women and people of color in the music industry is a major issue, and one that extends far beyond Stanford University. Major music festivals have repeatedly been criticized for their lack of female representation; on average just over 15 percent of Coachella lineups have been female. Music festivals, however, have a responsibility to their fiscal sponsors and their audiences to book the artists that are most popular, regardless of gender. Therefore, when considering the representation of women at major music festivals, we should not be pointing fingers at individual promoters, but instead asking larger questions about how and why women are drawn to the music industry and why they do not reach popularity in the same numbers that men do.

The accusations raised in “Frost Festival ices women out” of the Stanford Concert Network and Frost Music Festival are misguided and inaccurate. Each year when booking Frost, we create a survey of artists that members of SCN would like to see at the festival. From this list we poll the student body and then pursue artists, starting with the group that received the most votes. We often cannot book our top few choices because they are unavailable or too expensive. This year’s Frost Music and Arts Festival featured Paper Void, a diverse group that performed with Stephanie Mae, a female singer/songwriter, as their lead vocalist. We also pursued many acts with female headliners including CHVRCHES, Grimes, The Head and the Heart and HAIM, who unfortunately were unavailable or turned down our offers.

The Stanford Concert Network has an interest in representing the musical interests and pursuits of everyone on campus regardless of their gender, race or ethnicity and actively tries to book a diversity of artists for our many annual shows. We have organized and co-sponsored 25 shows this year alone, representing genres ranging from jazz to rock to hip hop, as well as various sub-genres in electronic music. Frost is but one of these. Artists we’ve brought to campus in the past two years include Bleached, Trails and Ways, Megan Slankard, Gabriela Leslie, Zion I, Casual, gLAdiator and Kaytranada; all of these acts are women or people of color. Current SCN members are also in the midst of organizing our annual winter hip-hop show – an initiative taken by members at the start of the academic year – with the intention of diversifying music genres represented on campus.

The authors of “Frost Festival ices out women” state that the revival of Frost fails the festival’s tradition of equal rights advocacy, political activism and social justice. We would like to correct the notion that Frost is or ever was intended to be a medium to advance activist agendas, or that it is a cultural/ethnic showcase. The mission of the Stanford Concert Network has always been to celebrate music and the arts; nothing more, nothing less.

We encourage any readers interested in furthering this conversation or increasing the diversity of music available on campus to join SCN. Our meetings are open to the public and held at 9:30 p.m. in BOB on Tuesdays.

 

Sincerely,

The Stanford Concert Network

 

Contact Frances Ball, the president of Stanford Concert Network, at fball@stanford.edu.

  • just_a_gurl

    I’m sad to see SCN continuing to defend the lack of diversity at Frost. I commented on the WCC’s article, but I will repost part of what I said here:

    “Aside from the fact that the WCC’s article obviously left out the incredible female singer for Paper Void and general diversity of the group, I also was quite frustrated by the consistent whiteness and maleness of other Frost performers. In fact, I left the performance soon after Paper Void because I was uncomfortable with the whiteness and maleness of these acts.

    Women being underrepresented in music is a huge issue. Last quarter I DJed a show on KZSU playing only music featuring women in order to try to increase the visibility of women in music. It was heartbreakingly difficult to find two hours of music featuring women that I wanted to play on my show every week in the KZSU library.

    I believe that when a historically underrepresented group expresses feelings of continued marginalization, as the women of the WCC have done here, these concerns ought to be taken seriously. Having all but one out of ~31 performers be male shows nearly as much sexism in the system as the past 43 US presidents having all been male. I know that SCN was upset about the WCC publishing this article but such apparent lack of diversity should be called out, even if it hurts someone’s feelings.

    In order to feel like I was giving SCN a “more fair” chance, since SCN members have been claiming that they gave the student population a fair chance to express their preferences through the survey that SCN sent out, I made the following chart to see the diversity of the artists suggested by SCN in their survey. This chart may have some mistakes because I guessed the genders and ethnicities of the artists based on what I found from their Google results, but it still shows a strong trend: only 12% of the suggested musicians were female and 11% of the suggested musicians were minorities. These demographics are not at all reflective of the Stanford or America.

    In the previous Daily article “Frost lineup pales in comparison to peer institution spring concerts,” SCN representatives admitted that they were hoping to get bigger and more popular acts. It’s not like Dispatch and Yeasayer were especially widely coveted by the student body. SCN could have easily used this opportunity to choose more diverse artists instead.”

    —a still sad mixed gurl

  • Rusty L. Dingus

    Can we all discuss the real issue, which is SCN’s wanton waste of paper? I mean, really, do we need all those glossy flyers printed out when fucking everybody knows about Frost already? This is why I vote “no” for their special fees every damn year and will continue to do so.