After postponing the original dates in early March due to the covid restrictions at summer's-end, GRRRL FEST Kirikiriroa (GF) is ramping up again for the first ever round of female-led festivities. Founded on four creative cornerstones - visual art, music, performing art and makers market - Never Project Space hosted the GF art exhibition called ‘Work’ back in March and the remaining events have been compressed into a ‘mini’ version of the festival.
After a small break and a reshuffle of events, festival director Gwyn Barrie says that although it’s been tough, she and the team were determined to just keep ‘pushing through’.
“All of the artists and crew we have on board are completely behind the kaupapa of GF,” she said. “So it’s been really rewarding to know that this festival means so much to everyone involved.”
The female and gender-non-binary focused arts festival kicked off last night Friday 14th of May on Hood Street, catering to the performing arts aspect with a Cabaret Variety Show at Biddy’s Back Bar and dinner at Craft Bar.
Kat Waswo, the Communications Manager says they are ‘extremely blessed’ to have such an amazing array of talent booked for the show. “We’ve got burlesque performers, entertainers, drag queens and an acapella musician - a massively high calibre of performers all in one show,” she said.
Inspired by the ‘Riot Grrrl’ feminist movement from the early ‘90s punk-rock scene in the US, the Basement Show at Nivara Lounge on Saturday May 15 will be showcasing the musical aspect of the festival’s core ethos.
Headliner post-punk duo TOOMS are accompanied by Hole tribute band Nothing But Hole and up-and-coming artists Cootie Cuties, Scarlett Lashes, Vikae and Team Squad. The show will also be featuring Iris G who was a stand-out participant of RNZ Music’s recently released programme ‘The Collective’.
“We wanted to ensure that most of our artist lineup is made of newcomers and underground artists,” Kat says. “Getting onto festivals and big-billed shows is so hard when you’re ‘gender diverse’... Musicians are still competing in a patriarchy-controlled industry.”
Recent statistics published by Dr. Jada E. Watson shows just a small portion of the major discrepancy that women and gender-non-binary artists are faced with ‘all the time’, Kat says.
“Mega talented artists such as Tami Neilson, Anna Coddington and MC Tali, who are often headlining music festivals are still not getting adequate radio play... So there’s this wider movement in the music scene across New Zealand right now that’s trying to raise awareness about these issues of inequality in our local music industry.”
One of the additional aspects of GF is keeping ticket prices accessible and including at least one free event. On Sunday May 16, GF is hosting a Sunday Session at Brewaucracy Brewery and Taproom - which is free or koha entry - and includes six hours of music from seven talented artists.
Also attending the Hamilton Zinefest on Saturday 8th of May at The Meteor, GF has reached out to their audience to provide table space for crafters in lieu of the marketplace aspect being cancelled on the original festival programme.
Displaying ‘a bunch of riot-grrrl-style zines’ and hand-made accessories, the brains behind GF are aiming to keep a continuous base of events and community engagement rolling throughout the next 12 months.
“We’re already looking ahead to our next event,” Gwyn says. “We’re really excited to be organising an all-ages music show in the Spring, so watch this space for more announcements coming really soon!”
For more information about tickets, GRRRL FEST Kirikiriroa and upcoming events, please visit their website www.grrrlfestnz.org or find them on Facebook or Instagram @grrrlfestnz.
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