Scots trad music scene rocked by horrific sexual allegations at Celtic Connections festival



Female artists have claimed they were sexually assaulted and pressured into having sex in return for traditional music bookings.

Five musicians have come forward and made claims of horrific abuse surrounding the Celtic Connections festival.

Their allegations emerged less than 24 hours after the taxpayer-funded event closed in Glasgow on Sunday night.

The victims’ ordeals were revealed yesterday on Drivetime, with John Beattie’s on BBC Radio Scotland.

They feared they would lose opportunities to perform if they spoke out.

One woman claimed to be pinned to a pub wall with her skirt above her waist, while another said many women are often pressured into unwanted sex with men.

An anonymous survivor said: “It was common practice at Celtic Connections Club for one particular musician to make aggressive advances towards me.

“I’ve lost track of times he pushed me into lofts, dark corners, empty rooms, and would try and would try to force me to touch his genitalia.

“Another time when I was in the pub with a group of musicians during a festival a young musician pulled up my skirt, passed my waist and held it there, pinning my arms in place so I couldn’t pull it down.

“I have kept it long enough for everyone to laugh at the situation and eventually let me go, but not before I had flashed the whole pub.

“I didn’t know him that well but just accepted the situation as this type of ‘banter’ happens so frequently that if you tried to say anything you would be labeled ‘boring’, ‘a prude’, and a ‘killjoy’. ”

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Another victim also shared their experience saying: “After drinking too much I found myself in bed with a well known musician and when I realized it was going further than I wanted I froze and tried to say no but he wouldn’t stop.

“I felt the situation was too advanced for me to stop at that late stage and also knew I would be called a tease and worse.

“Many of my friends have ended up having sex with men they didn’t want to purely because it went too far too fast and they couldn’t stop it.”

Another woman said: “Women don’t want to voice the concerns of the behavior of a festival or gig organizer for the fear of jeopardising future work opportunities.”

Naomi Paul from the musicians union: “It is really shocking, at the musicians union we started a safe space a couple years ago

“Unfortunately I’ve heard a lot of similar stories on musicians just feeling like they can’t speak out and feeling like it’s an environment where if they do speak out that they will be the ones who are victimized and lose work

“It is completely unacceptable that no one should put those in those kinds of situations at work.”

Naomi added: “A lot of musicians are freelance so they don’t have the same protection in law that employees do.

“We definitely want to see changes in the law, I would like to engage more directly with the Scottish Government as well.

“We could talk about having a code of practice that is industry wide, but again it’s own that won’t change the culture of the industry.”

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A Celtic Connections spokesperson said: “Our main objective is for everyone to create and enjoy world class culture experiences in a safe and comfortable setting.

Through our programming we often facilitate difficult topics of discussion.

“The bench collective who are doing some vital work in not only raising awareness around this issue, but in also allowing individuals who have faced harassment to come forward and feel safe and supported, grew out of a panel discussion we held at Celtic Connections 2017. “

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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