TGTF Guide to SXSW 2017: Feminism at this year’s festival’s forefront

By on Wednesday, 8th March 2017 at 3:00 pm
 

Header photo: SXSW 2017 featured conference speaker Nadya Tolokonnikova

Those of you who are regular readers of TGTF, or who faithfully follow our SXSW music festival coverage, will have read our SXSW 2016 article on feminism ahead of last year’s event. Event organisers took a decidedly feminist stance in their planning last year, scheduling both a wide range of feminist conference speakers and an impressive list of female artists on the music showcases. This year’s overview of feminism at SXSW will focus on the music conference, which once again offers an array of feminist-oriented events, including full-length panel discussions, professional meet-ups, and interactive sessions with notable female artists.

Non-profit education and service organisation Women in Music will host a ‘Women in Music Meet Up’ session on Wednesday the 15th of March, providing a place and time to gather people “from across all areas of the music industry who support empowerment, equality, and opportunities for women in music”. The meet up will also offer “an opportunity to learn more about the non-profit organization Women in Music and its community”. Later in the week, on Saturday the 18th of March, members of Women in Music will participate in a full panel session titled ‘Passport to Women in Music: A Global Review’ designed to “explore the similarities and differences in the challenges women face around the world and analyze the ways that men and women are collaborating together to solve these challenges”.

Professional topics within the music industry will be addressed in panel discussions such as ‘A League of Their Own: Success as a Female Entrepreneur’ on the 16th of March, where four female speakers from different specialties within the music industry will talk about “where they are today and what hurdles they faced” to get there. On a more specific subject, another quartet of panelists will tackle issues surrounding “one of the most competitive roles in music” with ‘Women in A&R: Navigating the Stereotypes’ on Friday the 17th of March.

From a performance-related perspective, ‘Safe Space to Rock: Combating Harassment in Music’ on the 17th of March, will comprise a panel of five speakers, including Speedy Ortiz frontwoman Sadie Dupuis, who has appeared at SXSW previously as a showcasing artist and a featured conference speaker, and members of  queer-punk band PWR BTTM, who are scheduled to showcase at this year’s music festival. The session proposes to confront “problems of harassment in the music scene and propose solutions to ensure the music community is a safe, accessible space for people of all genders and sexual orientations”.

Cindy Wilson press photo

(photo credit: Jeremy Ayers and Keith Bennett)

More in-depth artist perspectives on feminism will be provided by a pair of single-speaker sessions with notable female artists. On the 16th of March, a session with Russian conceptual artist and political activist Nadya Tolokonnikova of Pussy Riot will focus on the interrelation of art and activism in her career. The following day, a conversation with singer/songwriter Cindy Wilson (pictured above) of New Wave band The B-52s, will focus on the new musical direction she has taken with recent solo album ‘Change’.

Finally, the music fan viewpoint will be represented in a meta-analytical conference session titled ‘What Young Women Want From Music Festivals’ on the 16th of March. Operating on the premise that “thanks to increased buying power and interest, . . .18-24-year-old women are among the most formative forces behind the evolving music festival landscape”, this four-member panel discussion centers on the implications of growing participation from this demographic group for event producers, festival sponsors and performing artists.

As always, the schedule of events at SXSW 2017 is subject to change. For the most up-to-date information about the entire festival, including the music conference and the lineup of showcasing artists, you can consult the official schedule here. TGTF’s ongoing preview coverage of SXSW 2017 is collected here.

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