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Femme Wave continues to expand

By Zacc Schlegel, December 1 2018 —

Femme Wave, an annual festival hosted in Calgary featuring exclusively female and non-binary artists in music, film, comedy and other arts, ran its fourth iteration from Nov. 15–18.

Event founders Hayley Muir and Kaely Cormack were inspired by their experiences as members of the Calgary punk act The Shiverettes, when they noticed they were performing mostly with male-dominated groups.

“There were a lot of men on various bills we were playing with, but at the same time we knew a lot of women making art,” Muir says. “That was always a weird dissociation and frustration for us.”

Searching for a remedy, the duo created and hosted a one-night concert in 2015 solely featuring women. From there, it “snowballed into a four-day event,” according to Muir. Since, Femme Wave has continued to expand, becoming the Calgary mainstay it is today.

The festival is noted by artists and members alike for its inclusive and comfortable environment. It is also marked by the unique vibe and execution of its mission, inspiring many women and non-binary artists to defy the status quo and form their own bands. Muir agrees that the festival definitely has an impact.

“It’s had a pretty big ripple effect. We’re seeing more women in bands and more women making art,” Muir says. “We hear a lot from the artists who participate about what a nice environment Femme Wave provides. It’s not really like other events in terms of audience makeup or the vibe of our shows.”

In a wider context, safer spaces are expanding throughout the city and a festival similar to Femme Wave called Flip Fest now exists in Lethbridge. Both festivals have benefitted many women and non-binary folks, and Muir and her team take pride in their role.

This year’s events were especially successful — Femme Wave received over three times the amount of music submissions to play in the festival than last year. On Nov. 15, Femme Wave’s opening night, many disciplines were represented, ranging from music to comedy to spoken word. A dance party was hosted on Nov. 17 and free workshops were offered at Memorial Park Library the next day.

“We’ve got a really great core of supporters who’ve been there since day one, and a lot supporters across Canada who may not necessarily be able to make it to the festival every year,” Muir says. “A lot of people have our backs and really believe in the message and concept of Femme Wave.”

It’s no wonder Femme Wave has grown so much in the last four years, as it responds to the needs of the community and the artists within it. Muir says expansion is based upon those that reach out to them. While no one quite knows how the event will continue to change, it’s certain to remain one of Calgary’s most progressive festivals.

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