A total of 45 UK and international music festivals and conferences have pledged to achieve a 50:50 gender balance in their programmes by 2022.

The BBC Proms, Cheltenham Music Festival, Spitalfields Music, Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival and the Aldeburgh Festival are among the events to sign up for PRS Foundation’s Keychange initiative.

The scheme celebrates and invests in the talent of female music creators and innovators, and aims to create a ‘better, more inclusive music industry for present and future generations’.

Festivals were invited to implement the pledge ‘in a way that best makes sense to their programme and music genre’.

Half of all new BBC Proms commissions will go to women by 2022; however, the gender ratio will not apply to the festival’s soloists or conductors.

BBC Proms director David Pickard described the 2022 target as ‘a crucial statement for gender equality by the arts industry’, adding: ‘Achieving a 50/50 gender balance of contemporary composers performed at the BBC Proms is something we have been committed to for some time and consider vital to the creative development of the world’s largest classical music festival.’

Vanessa Reed, CEO of the PRS Foundation, said that the pledge would ‘significantly accelerate change, adding: ‘I hope that this will be the start of a more balanced industry which will result in benefits for everyone.’