On Thursday I spoke to the main organiser of LadyFest Brisbane Marrlin Othman. It was a beautiful and inspiring conversation. I left the conversation changed and as I’ve already outlined, very inspired.
LadyFest Brisbane is a celebration and empowerment of women in the arts, and of the women who appreciate them. LadyFest Brisbane is a part of an international movement that commenced in the United States in 2000. Essentially, LadyFest is a non-profit, community-based event designed by and for women to showcase, celebrate and encourage the artistic, organizational and political work and talents of women, and it features performances by bands, artists, authors, and more! Whilst the organisation and events are run by women, all are welcome to attend.
The Brisbane arm has made a few additions to the core LadyFest movement. The events being organised will include live music, art exhibitions, speaking events, film nights, craft workshops, bake sales and anything else you can think of. It’s about ladies and the people they love and the things they create, in every form you can imagine.
When I asked Marrlin about what inspired her to get involved in organising the LadyFest Brisbane movement, she talks highly of the original LadyFest gig she saw back in 2005 / 2006:
“Back in 2005 / 2006 I saw the first LadyFest gig in Brisbane which at that point was just purely about the music. In the six years since then there really hasn’t been anything like it happening in Brisbane so me and a friend decided to be pro-active and organise it.”
Tonight sees launch of LadyFest at the Beetle Bar. The gig will feature the amazing talent of The Boys, Love Like Hate, Tiny Spiders and Emma Bosworth along with DJ Ally Cakes spinning some fantastic lady tunes. Marrlin says tonight is only the beginning of what is sounding like a very busy six months for the LadyFest organisation:
“We love all the bands playing on the bill tonight. I’ve known both Tiny Spiders and Emma Bosworth for a while, they are such great bands. The Boys are one of the newer bands on the bill and they are one of the best bands going around at the moment. They came highly recommended as a band we must include. Love Like Hate were recommended to us by a friend. I haven’t seen them live yet but I’m really looking forward to finally seeing them live. I’ve heard from a lot of people how amazing they are. Moving forward we are planning more gigs of this nature that will be very collaborative and will expand to include lots of different genres. That was one thing we wanted to do, to open people’s minds to all the different genres of music out there that have strong female performers at the centre of them. We are looking to hold events over the next six months that encapsulate other lots of different forms of art. Since we launched LadyFest we’ve had such an overwhelming response from people. This includes everything from Bollywood Dancing to Yoga to even cake decorating. We want to be incredibly inclusive and include all the different areas of the community where women are making their mark. The Brisbane arm has made a few additions to the core LadyFest movement. LadyFest Brisbane is a celebration and empowerment of women in the arts, and of the women who appreciates them. We felt it is important for the latter group to be included as well, and some of these women are active members of the LadyFest organising team, myself included. The events we are organising will include live music, art exhibitions, speaking events, film nights, craft workshops, bake sales and anything else we think of between now and then. It’s about ladies and the people we love and the things we create, in every form you can imagine. So many different people have approached us and the support has been very diverse, it is amazing to see that across all levels of the community people want to get involved. We’ve already started talking about next year and we want this to be an ongoing thing and to pass the reins on to the younger generations.”
Marrlin is also quite open about who inspires her when it comes to what she does with LadyFest:
“I really love Joan Jett; she is amazing and someone who I really admire. There are also so many female artists in the local Brisbane scene who inspire me. Someone like Rachel Jacobs who is a local member of the Greens, she inspires me. Bands like An Horse inspire me to continue to grow. Tamara from HITS has always been someone I admire. She has such a beautiful charisma as a performer but beyond that she is incredibly intelligent with all of her non-musical pursuits. Heather Anderson is another inspirational person to me. She is very active at Triple Z and the music scene of Brisbane but she also has a PHD in social issues. She is a very strong and amazing woman. Stacey Coleman is another example of someone who inspires me. I think it is important for people to look locally in their own community because there are so many intelligent women making a big difference.”
Marrlin Othman is an amazing individual and after speaking with her I can’t help but feel that the power of the LadyFest movement will only grow into a bigger organisation. On International Women’s Day I can say that she is one of my heroes. LadyFest is a vital movement that is plugged into the very important issue of gender equality and putting a massive spotlight on all of the amazing female artists in Brisbane. If you care about your local Brisbane arts scene you need to get involved with LadyFest. I think that this is the best thing happening in our scene at the moment and I can’t wait to be a part of it moving forward.
Tonight sees the launch of their organisation at one of the best venues in town, The Beetle Bar. It all kicks off at 8pm and feature The Boys, Love Like Hate, Tiny Spiders and Emma Bosworth. $10 entry and some very pretty merchandise are also available for you to take home.
By: Dan Newton