Ladyfest Dayton hopes to bring together and inspire people through music, art, and education. While the festival itself is a celebration of women in the arts, we hope to provide a safe and welcoming environment for everyone, regardless of gender identity. On top of enjoying some of the best live music from Dayton and our neighbors, you get to know you’re making a direct contribution to your community. Past Ladyfests have benefited PUSH Dayton, Artemis Center, and Planned Parenthood
An international event for women artists is coming to Dayton as part of the celebration of Women’s History month.
Support Women Artists Now, or SWAN Day, features and celebrates the talents of female artists. The new event gained a lot of steam in its first four years and has had over 700 Swan Day events in 21 countries. Taking place on the last Saturday of Women’s History Month, it’s already been officially recognized in New York, Boston, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., and many more cities. Swan Day has yet to hit the streets of Dayton, but this year will be different.
On March 31st at 3:00 p.m. community members will gather at the Auditorium in the Dayton Metro Library Main Branch to see local female talent showcasing their finest work. Best of all, the program is free!
Co-founder of SWAN Day, Martha Richards, believes that women artists are creating a change in communities around the world. She says the celebration represents what the world would be like if female art and perspectives were fully integrated into everyone’s lives. Richards adds that the long-term goal is inspiring communities to recognize and support women artists as what she calls a basic element of civic planning. SWAN Day has attracted some high-profile attention. Award-winning novelist Isabel Allendale, Grey’s Anatomy actress Sandra Oh, and X-Men movie actress Famke Janssen have all made online video endorsements of the event.
Attending artists will include a wide range of local talents like authors, film-makers, poets, comedians, and more. There will be short films, poetry and novel readings, plays, and still more. For a little taste of what’s to come, I asked a few of the featured artists for their takes on SWAN Day and what they’ll be providing during the celebration.
Documentarian Maggie Price will be showing her film A Pretty Piece of Flesh. For Price, SWAN Day is something she considers not only an exciting opportunity for celebration, but also a chance for women artists to come together and support each other and the work they create. She hopes her film will start a dialogue about the difficult topic of cutting. Believing self-harm is often sensationalized in the media, Price says she wants to present something honest and personal that people can relate to and might help others gain some understanding.
Poet Kristie LeVangie, who will be reading excerpts of her work, says she’s honored to be able to share part of her vision and support her fellow artists. She thinks of SWAN Day as an opportunity to promote positive female endeavors in the arts and for female artists to share their art – no matter the form. LeVangie says that if she can inspire another woman to reach out and interpret her world or just liberate a thought, it makes it all worth it.
Sara Berelsman will be reading the first chapter of her memoir about alcoholism, currently titled The Last Rock Bottom. Like LeVangie, she’s excited for the potential to inspire those who attend. For Berelsman, this event means a chance to celebrate women and creativity. She hopes it will raise awareness of female talent in the area and that this will be the first of many SWAN Days.
Tami Boehmer will be reading from her compilation, From Incurable to Incredible: Cancer Survivors Who Beat the Odds. Boehmer, whose been interviewed by Cincinnati’s FOX 19, says she’s honored to be part of the program and looks forward to meeting fellow participants and experiencing their work. She thinks SWAN Day is a great opportunity and hopes it will help propel the work of female artists in Ohio to a larger audience.
Novelist Mary Curran Hackett will be reading selections from her debut novel, Proof of Heaven. She says she thinks the purpose of the event is to enable people to envision a world that includes every woman’s contribution to art and culture as well as explore what women can offer their communities. Hackett hopes that not only will women and girls leave the celebration feeling empowered and inspired, but also that both genders feel inspired to support and admire women artists.
I don’t think I have to point this out, but there are some common threads here: inspiration, support, opportunity, community, unique contribution, encouragement, and perspective to name a few. These women are also adamant in a strong belief in the large talent pool here in the community. Not only are they eager to share their personal stories, artworks, and time; they’re excited to see what all the other attendees will bring to the event.
Here’s hoping you’ll all join me on the 31st to celebrate SWAN Day and the artistic accomplishments of our local ladies. Many will be selling books and artwork and others will be signing copies – if you’re a fan of anyone scheduled to attend, be sure to bring something for their signatures. Each and every one of the attending artists has a lot to bring to the table, so be sure to check them out. You never know who or what might inspire you.