Since its founding in 2006, Music on Main has strived for gender equity among our headlining musicians.

Why do I care so deeply about equality? Because I care about quality.

When we create, adopt, and perpetuate systems that favour one gender over others, we eliminate opportunities to experience the best work. When – with our programming and prizes – we show people who aren’t often represented that their music doesn’t have an equal place, we eliminate opportunities to experience the best work.

We introduced our Composer in Residence programme in 2012 with Jocelyn Morlock. Caroline Shaw became Composer in Residence in 2014, and in 2016 Nicole Lizée took over the post. I look to these extraordinary women as role models, individuals who are forging creative paths and astonishing careers in music.

For ISCM World New Music Days 2017Music on Main and the Canadian League of Composers created an equity statement for the Call for Works which let the world know we were seeking gender equity at the festival. Of the more than 600 works submitted, 38% were by women. I noticed this percentage was much higher than other Calls for Work that don’t inform composers their work will be considered with equal attention. Of those 600+ works, 89 works from 90 creators were selected for presentation. Of the 90 creators, 39 identify as female, 2 identify as other, and 49 identify as male. That breaks down to approximately 44% female, 2% other, and 54% male, not quite our goal of 50% female and 50% male, but a significant win for new music programming anywhere in the world.

As the world celebrates International Women’s Day, I look back on the past 12 years of programming at Music on Main and know that we can always do better. I also look back at the hundreds of inspiring women who have shared their music – and worked offstage to make the performances possible – and celebrate them for their leadership, their vision, and their art.

David Pay
Artistic Director
Music on Main