Women and Music, Friends Meeting House, Manchester. Saturday 19th October, 2.30pm.
Our first speaker was Kelly Wood from the Musician’s Union, who works in the union’s Live Performance department, advising musicianson on all elements of gigging & touring. She explained what the union was doing to support women in the music industry in the wake of #MeToo. One initiative was to set up a dedicated email address – firstname.lastname@example.org – which encourages women to come forward with their experiences of sexism and harassment
Kelly was involved in the creation of the MU’s Fair Play Guide, which outlines how musicians can work with promoters/venue owners to find fair gig deals. The MU has now launched a Fair Play Venue database whereby artists can search for venues across the UK that have committed to the terms of the FPG. In order to help musicians in promoting their shows and growing their audiences, Kelly recently worked with Jay Taylor (Night & Day) to create a workshop, How to Win Friends and Influence Promoters, which has been delivered several times over the past year to MU members and at wider industry conferences and events.
Overall she felt that women had made gains in recent years but there was still much to do!
Our second speaker was writer and cultural commentator Lucy Whitman, a co-founder of Rock Against Sexism, who give an illustrated history of the movement, setting it in the context of the feverish cultural and political climate of the late 1970s when she called herself Lucy Toothpaste and created a feminist, anti-racist, anti-fascist fanzine, JOLT. She also joined Rock Against Racism (RAR) which started in 1976 in reaction to a growing tide of racism against a background of unemployment and the growth in support for the National Front.
Lucy wrote extensively for the RAR magazine, Temporary Hoarding, and then helped to found Rock Against Sexism (RAS), writing for and co-editing the RAS magazine, Drastic Measures. some copies of which she brought along to show the audience. The aims of RAS were:
1, to fight sexism in rock music and use rock musicto fight sexism in the world at large
2. to challenge the stereotype images ov women and men and promote a more postive image of women in rock
3. to attack the exploitation of women in advertising, in the press and on the stage
4. to encourage women musicians by giving them more opportunity to play
5. to assert the right of everyome to determine their own sexuality
She stressed the grassroots nature of RAS, mirroring RAR, with local groups forming and then organising gigs. Amongst other campaigns, RAS gave a lot of support for the National Abortion Campaign which was fighting attempts to limit abortion.
After both speakers there was a lively and informative discussion with the audience, chaired by Michael Herbert (Mary Quaile Club)
Thanks to our speakers Kelly and Lucy and to the Friends for their hospitality and technical assistance.
nb Lucy is still writing, these days focusing on the experiences of people affected by dementia. Her books Telling Tales About Dementia: Experiences of Caring and People with Dementia Speak Out, are both published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers. Lucy’s website is: www.lucywhitman.com
This is our last event for 2019. We are planning events for 2020.