Article published: Wednesday, January 9th 2013
Slade Hall in Levenshulme will open for a free one-day feminist festival this Saturday, with all welcome to attend.
Drawing on the Ladyfest tradition of creating a space for women to share art, music and ideas with a trans-inclusive policy, Sladyfest presents a full programme that re-focuses on practical skill sharing.
Volunteer organisers hope to centre the event on sharing skills that are often perceived as ‘male’ activities.
The daytime programme features workshops on such things as self-defence, wood craft, sound for live events and tree climbing to name a few.
Event volunteer Agnes explained, “The hope is that Sladyfest will help bring people together to plan similar events in the future, and give women more confidence in practical skills in areas stereotyped as ‘male’ in wider society.”
As evening draws in, festival-goers can expect vegan food, group singing, a women and trans open mic, live acts and a participatory gig.
The emphasis on women and trans performers is important for the festival ethos. An event organiser stressed, “Women are still very under-represented in both the music industry and the local music scene, so we want to provide a platform for existing performers and to encourage more women to sing and play.”
Bristol Ladyfest has highlighted similar concerns, saying “We believe that now, more than ever, women and girls are in need of empowerment.”
They cite some revealing facts and figures concerning the music industry, demonstrating why events such as Ladyfest are still relevant today by pointing to how “71% of performances at Glastonbury in 2010 were by all-male acts, outnumbering female performances 6:1”.
One organiser explained their inspiration for setting up the event. “The idea to organise Sladyfest came about while we were putting together a different event – we realised that unless we made a conscious effort to include women, it would end up male dominated by default.”
One final issue raised by the festival is space within the city to host such events. “It’s also an experiment in using a (large ish) home as a venue for an event”, say the organisers. “Manchester does not at the moment have a permanent social centre space so we need to look at alternatives for hosting DIY events which we want to make free to attend.”
The festival starts with workshops at 1pm. Music finishes at 11pm. Visit www.sladyfest.wordpress.com to find out more