Femme Wave celebrates Calgary’s female artists

For their first year, Femme Wave, a self-proclaimed feminist arts festival, has brought in a host of talent—musicians, comedians, visual artists, and filmmakers.

“There’s just a lot of women doing really cool things, like making really great music in the city and not being represented [fifty-fifty], the way they should be,” says Kaely Cormack, co-founder of Femme Wave.

Cormack doesn’t assign blame to anyone for the lack of representation, but says she noticed it while playing shows in Calgary.

Cormack, alongside Femme Wave co-founder Hayley Muir, is part of a Calgary band called The Shiverettes. She says while their shows tend to be male dominated, they played one with more female presence and wondered why it wasn’t more commonplace.

The idea grew from there.

Femme Wave started off as a show at the Palomino, but expanded into a four-day festival incorporating various forms of art.

Their reason for pursuing the festival is simple. They hope to empower female artists, while also sparking interest in both art and feminism to those who attend.

Muir explains that feminism sometimes has a bad reputation, and some people think it’s an extreme, radical, angry movement, when in reality its core beliefs resonate with most—that people should have the same rights, and deserve to be treated equally. It’s this misconception, Muir says, that needs to be cleared.

Cormack expands on Muir’s point, saying that feminism needs to be more mainstream and accepted as a good thing.

Their choice to call Femme Wave a feminist arts festival is deliberate. Though they hope they can one day simply call it an arts festival—in a world where feminism is commonplace—for now they both agree that women are often not taken seriously in the arts.

As musicians themselves, Muir and Cormack say women artists often get booked differently, and shows with female lineups often don’t make sense, with different genres or styles being group together.

“It would be nice to be taken a little more seriously […] we get recognized, just not the way we want to,” says Cormack.

Muir says they’re just beginning to “scratch the surface” with the festival, and that they would love to bring in bands from across western Canada and the United States to subsequent events.

Both agree there’s a lot of room for growth, but they’re optimistic that the festival itself will continue to grow, based on the support they’ve garnered so far.

“People are gonna come and just realize how much talent there is just from women in this city.

“I think it’s unexpected for some people.”

Both Muir and Cormack emphasize that they want this festival to be fun and inviting, but also a safe space that is welcome to diversity. They want people to enjoy the festival while also taking something away from it—that they’re interested in feminism for example, or an awareness of the space they occupy.

“It’s important for people to be aware of themselves and the space that they take up, physically and emotionally and mentally, and be aware that not everything is about you, and that there’s other people in the space,” says Muir.

The festival will run from Nov. 26-29, and features both all-ages events and 18+ events at venues such as Broken City, Tubby Dog, and Local 510.

Tickets are available at the door or at www.femmewave.com.

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