Catacombs Slammed for O-Week Lineup Diversity Shortfall

Catacombs Slammed for O-Week Lineup Diversity Shortfall

Ceebsing town rn

Dunedin DJs and local music punters are criticising Catacombs for its severe lack of diversity in their O-Week lineup. Despite Catacombs opening their doors to DnB artists for six nights of O-Week, the selection is distinctly fuelled by testerone, and a number of allegations suggest that Dunedin’s music scene is generally unwelcoming for both female artists and spectators.  

Candice, a local DJ, has been vocal about the venue's inability to diversify their sound, telling Critic Te Ārohi that “a monopoly of promotion companies are just looking to make money in Dunedin rather than [doing it] for the music and putting on a good gig”.

Catacombs’ O-Week lineup is largely dependent on external promoters who choose which acts will perform on any given night. This year, the promotion companies include Coastal Promotions, Audiology Touring, and Distorted Promotions. Catacombs said that they have “a long standing relationship with these promoters and encourage them to include a diverse range of genres, artists, genders, and backgrounds.” 

Critiquing the venue’s management style, Candice stated, “A lot of the promoters that host these huge international acts aren't even based in Dunedin, and when it comes to booking support for that act, they are just going to get one of their bros.” She suggested that the focus needs to switch to “reflecting the diversity of the dance floor rather than just platforming their mates.” 

While Catacombs told Critic Te Ārohi that artists “come from various different backgrounds,” they nonetheless stated that, “the final call on artists comes down to promoters and who they have on their call sheet.” In attempts to rectify this imbalance, Catacombs have taken responsibility for their venue on the Friday and Saturday of O-Week in attempts “to promote a more diverse lineup.” This approach follows in-line with Catacombs’ vision to “promote Dunedin's up and coming local female DJs” in 2024. 

Speaking to the importance of diversity in lineups, Candice said, “If your lineup looks a certain way, it's going to build certain types of dance floors. A lot of the time when it’s an all cis white male lineup, the dance floors will look like that.” Speaking of her own experience, she told Critic Te Ārohi, “I never really thought about DJing until I saw other women on the lineup […] there's no better feeling than seeing someone on stage that looks like you. It makes you think ‘Oh I could do something like that.’”

One student, Talia, who is a frequent flyer at Catacombs, told Critic Te Ārohi that it’s “appaling that we are still seeing inequality”. And while it doesn’t affect her attendance, she points out that the lack of diversity is definitely “on the disappointing side.”

Candice’s advice for Catacombs was simple: “If you’re worried about not being able to find a non-Pākehā DJ, run a workshop and empower the people in that way. If you actually care about the music scene you start from the ground level.” And there’s nothing more ground level than the piss-stained floors of Cats

This article first appeared in Issue 1, 2024.
Posted 5:36pm Sunday 25th February 2024 by Angus Rees.