The idea to put on Ladyfest Bristol had been brewing between me and a few friends for a while. Hannah, one of the main organisers, had built a Myspace page to try and gauge what the interest was, and the response was so great, that we decided we had to go for it.
Bristol has a really great and varied music and art scene and, in the last few years, women artists and women themed nights have become a lot more prolific and popular. After the first fundraiser, a network formed of men and women willing to give up time for free to organise and promote Ladyfest, working alongside the smaller steering committee. This meant anything from Rob Griggs designing our logo, to Janice Tye building our website. Nights like Lipstick on your Collar and Wonky, and venues like the Cube, Here Shop, Thekla and Kino also gave us a lot of support in hosting the festival.
The planning process was as collaborative and democratic as possible. We didn’t want to promote one form of feminism or gender politics; or focus on one area of music and art, but instead to explore the various debates on gender issues, and the diversity of women’s creative work.
We felt that Ladyfest should aim to celebrate the creativity, experiences and achievements of women, provoke thought and discussion on gender issues, and be inclusive and accessible to men, women and children.
The range of events going on throughout the week reflects these aims as closely as possible. The fest opens with the Launch Party at the Cube, featuring Anat Ben David of Chicks on Speed, Gaptooth, a film by Lady Lucy, a speaker from the Fawcett Society, and DJ Blackrainbow. The variety in the night is reflected throughout the week, with folk nights, live gigs with the Mentalists and Rasha Shaheen, film nights, Cabaret, clubs playing anything from hip hop to sixties girl groups.
Three art exhibitions in Here, Café Kino and the Cube explore the diversity of women’s art, and gender roles in society now and in the future.
There are a series of creative workshops and debates on feminism, with the Feminist Archive South, feminist theory and Ladyfest Question Time. Debate is key, as we felt that men and women need the opportunity to voice their opinions on gender issues, and the path of feminist history.
Ladyfest has been an amazing experience for me. Some volunteers, like Liz and Hannah had experience of event management, but I came to this completely new. Now after 5 months I’ve worked as a press liaison officer, collaborated with Emily Dawson, our experienced curator volunteer, to co-ordinate three art exhibitions, helped set up several events and met some really amazing people. Through it I have been able to focus on what feminism and gender issues mean to me, whilst working really creatively.
www.ladyfestbristol.org.uk for full programme.