GRiNM (Gender Relations in New Music) initially formed as a collective of concerned community members interested in using the platform of the Darmstadt International Summer Coursesto question and challenge the homogeneity of the New music scene.

GRiNM (originally GRID, Gender Relations in Darmstadt) is a grassroots organization that began August 2016 as an open conversation, staged through daily open meetings, aimed at picking apart the complex mechanisms that reproduce the status quo in the New music scene. During these meetings, questions of gender, though central, expanded to become about a broader struggle against systematic oppression. The group advocates for giving access to the same set of opportunities, compensation, and ability to sustain their musical practices to everyone who wants to.

GRiNM has now expanded online. As an interest group, it brings together composers, performers, critics, and many others involved in New music; it is not a homogeneous organism, rather a coalition made up of a diversity of viewpoints and positions.

The group’s activities involve gathering data and generating statistics about the gender breakdowns of major festivals for New music, as well as raising awareness and promotingdiscussion on issues of equality and inclusion. We use institutional platforms such as talks at festivals, as well as artistic methods of protest and intervention in order to achieve this.


Q: What exactly is the goal of GRINM?

A: For this one, we’re sending you over to our mission statement.

Q: Who is GRINM for?

A: GRINM goes beyond the man/woman binary. It focuses on how certain people, only on the basis of their appearance or origin, have been discriminated against for a long time in the new music scene.

Q: What do you mean by “gender”?

A: Gender is understood not as a biological category, but rather as a certain “role” that a person plays in society. This means that it’s not connected to your biological sex, but rather your behaviours, how you act, and how that changes how others treat you.

It’s important to know that only in the past few hundred years has the idea of a dualistic man/woman system with specific roles assigned to each. For instance, men were typically associated with working in public, while the work of women is more private, like at home. This same problem also shows up in new music: for example, men are traditionally the ones composing the music, while women are often “only” the ones doing the service of playing it for the audience.

Q: OK, but does this mean this group is just for women?

A: The group is open to all who think that these issues matter. It is a common struggle against systematic oppression, and about giving equal access to the same set of resources, opportunities, compensation, and ability to sustain their musical practices to everyone who wants to.

Q: Won’t this mean that quality will get worse?

A: Quality is attached to specific cultural values, but is not set in stone. A more inclusive and diverse musical landscape will end up changing our understanding of quality for the better. It does not make it any less tough to write a good piece, it just creates more ways that a piece can achieve excellence.

Q: Is this an issue in other arts like dance or visual arts?

A: Unfortunately, us musicians are somewhat late to the party. Though there is still a long way to go in fields like the visual arts, there has been an engagement with these gender issues for much longer than with us. It’s better late than never though, and it gives us the chance to learn from the victories and mistakes of others, without having to repeat their history.

Q: Does GRINM stand for a specific ideology?

A: Think of GRINM more as a coalition. It’s made up of a large group of people, all of whom play a variety of roles in the field of New music. The group consists of festival organizers, programmers, curators, and musical practitioners of all stripes. Each of these people have their own opinions and ideologies, but share a common interest in this specific issue of gender relations. To put it simply, we don’t try to agree on everything, but about this we act as one.

Q: How does the group understand “New Music”?

A: By “New music,” the group refers to contemporary musical production that self-identifies as existing at least partially within the euro-logical stylistic and institutional frame of Western Art music.