Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Suport Women (Artists) Harder!

I've been having an ongoing discussion with a new friend about women.  Women in art, women on stage, promoting women. She noticed the lack of women on poetry stages. As someone who both goes on stage and gives artists stages, I have been engaged with this issue for a long time.  My goal as a promoter is always to achieve 50/50 in my events.  If I do an all-women's event one month, then I generally do an all men's the next.

Women (artists) need our support more.  

Creating equity in my own shows doesn't actually help.  Many promoters ignore female acts all together.  Some put up one female in a line-up of 4-5 male acts and think they should get a special commendation.  My friends who are promoters hear it from me when they program like this consistently.  Female promoters do tend to program shows more equally, but again, we are not making up for the overall lack of opportunity for women at best we're getting a 75%/25% ratio.

Some female promoter friends and I have realized that this lack of opportunity actually creates a gap between the capabilities of men and women artists.  Women perform less, so they practice less, so they slowly become not as good as the male counterparts they started out with (the same is true for filmmaking, plastic arts - fewer deadlines and goals to meet means less actual time spent working toward presentation - skills do not get finely honed and women start to fall back).  This is not every woman.  Some women hustle and get gigs and practice and get there.  But in general, we have to do better in supporting women artists - as women, as promoters, as audience members and as fellow artists.

Women (artists) need our money more.

Forget the confidence issues when you keep putting yourself out there and no one seems to be picking anything up.  There is the real life issue of how to support yourself and your art.  When no one is waiting for your art, or paying for it, the time/money equation can become almost debilitating.

Asking for money is anathema to many women artists.  They might be able to do it on a personal level, but almost none of them are willing to negotiate decent deals for themselves, ask for payment for gigs, or get investment capital for a project.  Even when they go the extra length to crowdfund, they tend to be polite and quiet about it.  (Sure, there's a handful who err in the other direction, but that, too, is just an example of having no idea how to ask for what you need.)

Our money is more than just money.

Even if you are going to pledge a dollar or a pound, it isn't just the money!  Women, artists, women artists need financial support, but there is something else that comes into this process.  A boost of confidence, a spur onward when you feel like giving up, a feeling that your community wants you to succeed, an accountability to the people who are supporting you.  No amount is too little.  Every person who donates is sending a big YES to the project and the artists they are supporting!

Here are some projects I personally support by women whose work I support.  Most of them have given tirelessly to other artists and the community - as promoters, presenters, youth workers, facilitators.  In one case, the fundraising is not for a project, but for medical costs.  Lara's case brings it home to me more than any of them.  The fact is, we will exhaust ourselves for others, to the point of illness, and the point of a complete lack of personal safety and protection.  If you have a minute, please check out the campaigns below and give if you can, share and support if you're interested in the projects!

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