WomenArts is sweet sixteen this year, and we have so much to celebrate. We have now had over 700 Support Women Artists Now/SWAN events in 21 countries, and we are leading a growing worldwide movement of activist women artists. We have big dreams for the year ahead. Can you help us reach them by making a gift?
When we started SWAN, we hoped it would generate new support systems for women artists, and it’s working! New leaders are emerging, and once artists have the experience of working together on SWAN events, they start sharing other resources and information. SWAN empowers them because they discover they are not alone – they are part of an international community of women artists.
New SWAN Festivals and Operas!
We have about a dozen groups who are organizing substantial SWAN festivals every year, and two new ones came on board this year. Women in Sofia, Bulgaria organized a week-long SWAN Festival for 2011, and they want to do even more in the coming year. The women of Carbondale, CO have just completed a month of SWAN celebrations including a gallery show, performances, workshops, and a fantastic opening night cake.
We are also thrilled about the two SWAN operas celebrating civil rights heroines. In Northampton, MA, Old Deerfield Productions and the Academy of Music are planning a fully-staged production of Truth, a new opera by Paula Kimper based on the life of the fiery abolitionist Sojourner Truth.
Meanwhile, in San Francisco WomenArts is working with composer Mary Watkins to do a SWAN showcase of excerpts from Dark River, her opera based on the life of civil rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer.
WomenArts will work for national publicity around these pieces – two operas created by women and about women!
New Movement-Building Work!
WomenArts added a new dimension to our movement-building efforts this year thanks to a generous grant from the Nathan Cummings Foundation. Our Executive Director Martha Richards has been speaking regularly at conferences to encourage women’s organizations to integrate women artists into their work for women’s rights and social justice, and we have published a series of newsletters about women artists who have built successful partnerships with community-based organizations.
Also, WomenArts has been working on three model projects in our home town of San Francisco as part of our Cummings Foundation grant. In addition to our work with composer Mary Watkins on her opera, Dark River, we are collaborating with the Asian American Women Artists Association on a program called A Place of Her Own, and with Counterpulse and choreographer Amara Tabor-Smith on Our Daily Bread.
- In A Place of Her Own, Asian women are creating art in response to the question, “If you had a place of your own, what would it be?” This question is especially powerful for Asian women who are often taught to be silent and stay in the background instead of claiming their space.
- In Our Daily Bread, Amara Tabor-Smith and her dancers are working with immigrant seniors and youth in neighboring housing projects. They are interviewing seniors about the eating traditions in their home countries, and then creating dance/theatre pieces with the young people as a way of teaching them about food and nutrition within their cultural contexts.
You Can Make a Difference! Make a Gift!
We are on an amazing journey, and we hope that you will join us. We are discovering powerful new ways to move forward by collaborating with women artists and their audiences around the world.
We also deeply appreciate gifts of energy and ideas. Please feel free to contact us. We always love to hear your comments and suggestions.
Thanks so much for inspiring us and cheering us on. Together we are building a world that will recognize the full scope and power of women’s creativity.
Note: The beautiful SWAN Cake in the picture was created by Christine Bergstrom of YouthChefs in Carbondale, CO and Donna Lilah of Aspen’s Caribou Club. The other photo shows the statue of Sojourner Truth by Thomas Jay Warren that stands in Florence, MA near the former office of WomenArts.