SWAN Day: First Press Release 2/8/2008

Date: February 8, 2008
Press Contact: Martha Richards, The Fund for Women Artists

Support Women Artists Now Day is a New International Holiday

SWAN Day (Support Women Artists Now Day) is a new international holiday that celebrates women artists. SWAN Day will be an annual event taking place on the last Saturday of Women’s History Month. The first international SWAN Day will take place on Saturday, March 29, 2008 in venues across the U.S. and around the world.

Women artists are creating change in their communities and using the arts to heal, uplift, and transform the world. Through performances, exhibits, parties and other events, women artists will be celebrated on SWAN Day and throughout Women’s History Month. The public will be encouraged to attend SWAN Day events, to make donations to their favorite women artists, and to seek out the work of women artists all year long.

Women artists are inspiring, and SWAN Day will help people imagine what the world might be like if women’s art and perspectives were fully integrated into all of our lives. The long term goal of SWAN Day is to inspire communities to recognize and support women artists as a basic element of civic planning.

The idea for SWAN Day grew out of a collaboration between Martha Richards of The Fund for Women Artists and Jan Lisa Huttner of Chicago’s WITASWAN (Women in the Audiences Supporting Women Artists Now).

The Fund for Women Artists (www.WomenArts.org) is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping women artists get the resources they need to do their creative work. Its emphasis is on women in film, video, and theatre. Over the past decade it has raised over $4 million (including a permanent endowment of $425,000), and built a website that provides networking, advocacy, and fundraising services to approximately 2,000 visitors a day.

WITASWAN (www.films42.com/witaswan.asp) is an informal alliance of women who are using their power as consumers to increase opportunities for women artists. It began as an initiative of the Illinois chapter of the American Association of University Women.

Martha Richards, the Founder and Executive Director of The Fund for Women Artists, has over thirty years of arts management experience, including nine years at Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts at Brooklyn College in Brooklyn, New York (three years as Executive Director), and five years as the Managing Director of StageWest, a regional theater company in Springfield, Massachusetts.

Richards grew up in San Francisco and has a B.A. in Economics from the University of California Berkeley, and a J.D. from the University of California Hastings College of the Law. She is a licensed member of the California Bar and was a founding member of California Lawyers for the Arts.

Richards has had a life-long commitment to women’s issues and women artists. She has served as the Treasurer of Women Playwrights International, and she served on the board of the Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts from its creation in 1996 until 2000, and she was honored as one of three “Founding Mothers” of that organization. In 2007 she was one of three U.S. nominees for the prestigious international Montblanc de la Culture Award.

Jan Lisa Huttner, the creative force behind WITASWAN, is a Chicago-based film critic and the Managing Editor of Films for Two: The Online Guide for Busy Couples. (www.films42.com). Jan received the “Silver Feather Award” for superior achievement from the Illinois Women’s Press Association in 2005 and 2006, and a first place certificate for “Best News Writing on the Web” from the National Federation of Press Women in 2005. Her work with WITASWAN was recently featured in an article in the Chicago Reader.