In 2000, the first ever Ladyfest, a feminist music and arts festival was held in Olympia, Washington. Over 2000 people were in attendance, along with writers, artists, bands, and speakers, and at the end of the festival, event organizers put out a call for people to return to their own cities and put on Ladyfests that have reached as far as across the globe.
This spring will mark the first ever Ladyfest Atlanta, a platform where women and trans/gender non-conforming creatives can present their work and where the public can see shows, take part in workshops, and engage in an open dialogue around life outside of cisgender white male privilege.
The event will take place March 20-22nd at three Atlanta venues including Mammal Gallery, Eyedrum Art & Music Gallery, and The Big House on Ponce. I had a chat with just two of the event organizers, Chelsea Dunn and Nina Dolgin, to find out what this whole shindig is about.
When Chelsea Dunn relocated to Atlanta this summer, she immediately began looking online to see if there was a Ladyfest Atlanta. She was eager to get involved, but that’s when she realized there had never been one organized. “When I saw that there had been a Ladyfest South here, I was like ‘That’s great, but Atlanta’s pretty different from the rest of the South,’” says Dunn.
“I’ve heard stories from so many people here about things that were done to them, how they’ve been un-invited to events when they found out that they were a woman.The point is to not only build a community around women in the city, but also to precipitate a dialogue around sexism in the arts and music communities in Atlanta.”
After putting out the call, Dunn met fellow organizer Nina Dolgin and along with a handful of other organizers eager to make Ladyfest Atlanta a reality a grassroots effort was born. “It’s supposed to be organized in a way that’s decentralized, so that no one is the head of anything…For us, Ladyfest is a movement and an event,” says Dunn.
Festival attendees can expect music, film screenings, visual arts, panels, and even workshops and the call for submissions is still open, particularly short films and performance pieces.
Admission to Ladyfest Atlanta will be free and open to the public and Dunn and Dolgin agree that anyone is welcome to attend. From students to professors, all voices are welcome. “We want it to be as accessible as possible,” says Dolgin.
As for submissions, Dolgin says it’s “anyone who doesn’t benefit from cisgender white male privilege, because every space is for them.” Dunn adds on saying “it’s not a negative thing…It’s recognizing that there’s less space and less of a platform in Atlanta for women than there is for men…Ladyfest Atlanta is going to be an intentional performance space for [trans-inclusive and gender-nonconforming] women by women.”
The festival itself is still a few months away, but festival organizers plan to put on a series of events at each of the three venues in the months to come. The first of these will be a dance party fundraiser this Saturday, 8:30pm, at downtown Atlanta’s Eyedrum. “It’s called Pussycat Purrradise. It’s a cat beach theme,” says Dolgin enthusiastically. Dolgin and Dunn promise good vibes and one major surprise (which they were hesitant to disclose, but very insistent will be beyond worth it). If that doesn’t sell you then a stellar lineup of lady DJs that includes DJ Bitchcraft, DJ CHEEDOH DU$T, and Kėėsh La Reīne. Entry is just $5 at the door and all funds will go toward making Atlanta’s first ever Ladyfest a sweeping success.
Looking to give, but can’t make it out? You can also donate by heading visiting the group’s Indiegogo page anytime through January 20th.
Keep up with the latest from Ladyfest Atlanta by following their Facebook page, and to find out more about the event and how to turn in submissions head over to the Ladyfest Atlanta website. Those looking to volunteer and get involved can the Ladyfest Atlanta Organizers page.