Very few womxn in the performing arts scene in Liverpool haven’t heard of We Want Women. Over the last few years, it has become highly regarded with monthly showcase performances in a variety of venues across the city. Performers are drawn to the friendly and welcoming nature of the open mic nights and there is a real sense of support there if you are performing. You may arrive at your first performance not knowing anyone else but it is guaranteed that you will leave with a new set of creative friends at the end of the night.
We Want Women was established in October 2015 as a monthly concept open mic night at Lennons on Mathew Street. The organisation was set up by Liverpool based performer, Nicola Hardman. The aim of We Want Women is to put the voices and work of womxn in the performing arts to the forefront in a safe, equal and encouraging environment.
Since its conception, the events have grown massively, taking place in a variety of venues in the city including the Scholar and the Jacaranda basement. The showcases welcome a variety of performers in a wide range of disciplines such as singer songwriters, musicians, spoken word artists, comedians and much more.
Like many performance events, We Want Women made the move online in 2020 and held a variety of live streams and online events including a ‘Woman of the Week’ competition in which womxn submitted their work to a panel of judges. At the end of every month, the winners would be invited to take part in a live showcase to share their winning entries.
At the start of 2021, We Want Women established The Sister Ship, a new Facebook group for creatives to network, share their work and empower other womxn. Much like the performance showcases, it has been created as a safe space. The Facebook group already has nearly 100 members and it is growing all the time.
The aim is to incite discussions about the world around us, current affairs and how it affects you as a creative and the work that you produce. By having discussions and sharing each other’s work, it is hoped that it will help femxle performers grow in confidence and improve their mental health. There has already been a seminar held in February, by Cathi Rae. The seminar was titled The Invisible Woman and explored age representation, the female body and opening a discussion on how you can be an anti-aging ally. The aim is to continue with similar seminars and talks covering a wide range of topics.
We Want Women is run entirely voluntarily and in 2020, Nicola was joined by three new core team members; Kiann, Helen Maw and Rachel Meddings who are all musicians and performers. In February 2021 We Want Women was officially registered as a CIC company. This now means that We Want Women can expand the work they do by reaching out to the wider Liverpool community and bring creatives together to share their work and experiences.
However, despite the amazing work We Want Women do to connect creative femxle minds, the question ‘but why just women?’ is often asked. Anyone is welcome to attend We Want Women events as an audience member. The desire to provide a safe space for womxn performers stems from the personal experiences of Nicola, as well as some of her local peers and also femxle performers around the world. It can often be tough for femxle performers to be given headlining spots both on and off stage and in an industry so male dominated, it is vitally important that organisations like We Want Women exist.
There is a real discourse around femxle representation in the music industry, there seems to be a distinct lack of femxle directors, producers and managers, not to mention when it comes to issues like festival line ups where there is always a lack of femxle headliners. Therefore having that space for femxle performers to shine through, however small it may be, is a step in the right direction.
To mark International Women’s Day, We Want Women in collaboration with Satellite Music and Events are hosting an online micro festival featuring a wide variety of femxle performers from Friday 5 March to Sunday 7 March. The festival is free to watch and will be streamed live on the We Want Women Facebook page and YouTube account.
We Want Women is always welcoming new members to the group as well as wanting to engage with femxle performers across the world. To keep up to date with the exciting projects and events happening, you can follow them here.