Following a series of highly successful WOW – Women of the World Festivals around the world, The WOW Foundation has announced plans for more events across the UK in 2019 funded by Spirit of 2012. Following the first ever WOW – What Now? in London this March, this major gathering will take place in a further nine locations, from Perth to Essex, in celebration of WOW’s tenth anniversary year in 2020. WOW – What Now? will take place in cities including Perth, Norwich, Milton Keynes, Exeter, Falmouth and Rotherham over the next four months.
WOW – What Now? will look at the here and now; shining a light on the most potent issues affecting women and girls today, both across the UK and in their local areas. From politics to financial empowerment and the role of men and boys to the intersection of sexism, racism and homophobia, there is an opportunity to discuss and collate ideas, and to begin to form a truly nationwide conversation around gender equality. Events will take place across autumn 2019 and will culminate at WOW London 2020, spotlighting the findings.
Each event will involve a WOW Think In (a mass public planning session where people are invited to share their thoughts on what issues need to be part of the agenda) and a Money Quiz encouraging women to proactively think about their finances will also be part of each event.
WOW has commissioned two artists, poet and photographer Nabeelah Hafeez and comedy duo Lola & Jo, to create new pieces of work responding to the conversations taking place that will be performed at the 10th anniversary WOW festival at Southbank Centre in March 2020. Sharing the locations between them, they will take inspiration from the ideas and stories of each place, weaving it into the creation of their brand new pieces of work.
Bradford poet and photographer Nabeelah Hafeez’s career has included her acclaimed exhibition Through My Father’s Lens. More recently Nabeelah, who is also Project Manger of the Bradford Stories Festival with the National Literacy Trust, worked with the National Media Museum on the Above The Noise Exhibition; showcasing intergenerational stories from the perspective of a group of young women from Bradford, following the journeys of their grandparents from the India / Pakistan partition and culminating in a bitter sweet yet heartwarming exploration of home and belonging in Bradford.
Lola & Jo’s acclaimed shows include Focus Groupies and Escape, both of which have played at London’s Soho Theatre following successful debuts at the Edinburgh Festival. They have performed at Latitude, Vault Festival, Glasgow International Comedy Festival and are currently working with Channel 4 on a brand new series of comedy shorts.
Following London’s date earlier this year, which was attended by more than 1,500 people, the next WOW – What Now? will take place in Perth at Horsecross Arts Centre’s Perth Theatre this weekend on 5 October. The day will also feature extra events including Take One Action, a discussion and screening of 100 minutes of short films showcasing female empowerment in all its guises, and the Saltire Society’s Outstanding Women of Scotland 2019, a celebration of 10 Scottish Women who inspire the next generation.
In the UK, nine WOW festivals took place from 2016 – 2019 in 5 cities (Bradford, Cardiff, Exeter, Norwich, Perth) funded by Spirit of 2012. There have also been WOW festivals and activations in Chester, Derry-Londonderry and Folkestone. Previous activations have built a groundswell of activism in local communities and engaged thousands of people, leaving local legacies and the ambition to do more to form a truly nationwide conversation, reaching the greatest number of places and the widest variety of community contexts.
Jude Kelly, WOW Founder said: “It’s a vital time for WOW to travel across the country, building a picture of the challenges and advances around gender equality. In partnership with key organisations, we will continue to build the WOW global movement, enabling open conversations through sharing personal experiences, providing the tools to unlock activism and sustain change. The results of this state of the nation survey will form a central part of our 10th anniversary festival celebrations.”
Ruth Hollis, Chief Executive, Spirit of 2012 said: “From 2016 to 2018 we saw the impact of WOW – Women of the World festivals on five UK cities, bringing women and girls together to share, learn, laugh and create We are delighted to be supporting The WOW Foundation as they explore the next steps for WOW, extending the impact of the festivals into a lasting movement for change.”
The WOW Foundation produces festivals across the world to celebrate women and girls, and raise awareness globally of the issues they face and possible solutions. Led by Jude Kelly CBE, it is an independent organisation that works to build, convene and sustain a global movement that believes a gender equal world is possible and desirable through WOW festivals and empowering women and girls.
Over the past 10 years WOW Festivals have reached more than two million people across six continents, from Baltimore to Brazil, Cardiff to Karachi. Join us in 2020 to celebrate the 10th anniversary of this global movement.
WOW London will run 6-8 March 2020 at the Southbank Centre.
Sat 5 October (14.00-17.30)
Tues 5th November (18.00-20.00)
Norwich Arts Centre
Weds 6th Nov (09.30-13.00)
Thursday 7th Nov (18.00-20.00)
Royal Albert Museums, Exeter
Weds 13th Nov (evening, time TBC)
Falmouth School of Arts
December, date TBC (17.30-20.00)
The University of Hull
November, date TBC
December, date TBC
Rotherham City Council
December, date TBC
Photo credit: Cornershop PR