Radio — A new feminist music and arts festival in Calgary

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On this week’s episode of Talking Radical Radio, I speak with Kaely Cormack and Hayley Muir. They have been involved in Calgary’s music scene in one way or another for quite some time, in the last few years as members of a punk band, and they are also co-founders of Femme Wave: A Feminist Arts Festival.


Over the years, they’d had a lot of conversations — between themselves and with other women — about the experience of being women in a male-dominated industry. At least part of that experience can be framed in terms of space: who is present and who is absent, who gets to feel welcome and who is made in subtle ways to feel out of place, who feels entitled to exert some control over space and who doesn’t. In their experience, it’s a pretty common thing for there to be relatively few women as performers on any given bill, or even in audiences. And as performers, it’s not unusual for women to face the gamut of small but important interactions known as “microaggressions” that may not even be done consciously but that mark those who face them as somehow unwelcome, lesser, or not-belonging.

Along with being punk musicians, the two are also committed feminists with backgrounds in marketing and experience in their paid work lives of project management — that is, they know how to make things happen. After bouncing the idea around for a couple of years, they were in the early stages of figuring out the practical nuts and bolts of putting together some sort of feminist, woman-centric musical event, or maybe a few of them, when they connected with a crew of older women who had extensive experience at putting on festivals and other large events. In short order, Femme Wave: A Feminist Arts Festival was on the path to becoming a reality. The first of what they aim to make an annual event happened in late November, and it featured not only multiple music shows in a variety of Calgary venues covering a range of genres of music, but also panels, public education, film screenings, visual art installations, and stand-up comedy. It may not be entirely unprecedented, but in terms of combining multiple art forms and an explicit commitment to feminist politics into one event, it is certainly rare not just in Calgary but in Canada as a whole.

To learn more about Femme Wave: A Feminist Arts Festival, click here.

Talking Radical Radio brings you grassroots voices from across Canada. We give you the chance to hear many different people that are facing many different struggles talk about what they do, why they do it, and how they do it, in the belief that such listening is a crucial step in strengthening all of our efforts to change the world. To learn more about the show in general, visit its website here. You can learn about suggesting topics for future shows here.

Talking Radical Radio is brought to you by Scott Neigh, a writer, media producer, and activist based in Hamilton (formerly Sudbury), Ontario, and the author of two books examining Canadian history through the stories of activists.

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