CHICAGO/SAN FRANCISCO (3/8/12)—On March 31, 2012, people in more than 20 countries around the world will celebrate women artists—from dancers to designers, from poets to playwrights, from actresses-on-screen to women-behind-the-camera—as women in international audiences join with women artists worldwide to celebrate their achievements. These events will come before, during, and after the 5th annual International SWAN Day which will be official celebrated this year on Saturday, March 31, 2012.
International SWAN Day began as a collaboration between Martha Richards (the founder and executive director of WomenArts) and Chicago Film Critic Jan Lisa Huttner (the founder of WITASWAN—Women in the Audience Supporting Women Artists Now).
Since the first International SWAN Day in 2008, thousands of artists and audience members have gathered on and around the last Saturday of March (at the end of Women’s History Month) to celebrate the achievements of women in all forms of artistic expression. Women and men of all ages have attended concerts, exhibits, parades, panel discussions, performances, rallies, readings and screenings—in public spaces and private homes—to celebrate women artists.
International SWAN Day celebrations include local, national, and regional events for women and girls of all ages. Individual participants learn to use their “Power of the Purse,” and communities around the world are inspired to find new ways to recognize and support women artists as a basic element of civic planning.
Women who have attended past events report feeling empowered to inspire and strengthen one other. When asked if she had advice for women artists, novelist Isabel Allende said that the key to survival is to “Be connected—even if you are living in terrible circumstances, if you can connect with other women, you can feel the energy, you feel the force, you are not alone.”
While many organizations are doing excellent work for women artists within their own disciplines and their own countries, SWAN Day is different—it is not just international but also comprehensive. SWAN Day events show that women artists can be much more powerful when they cross disciplines and international borders to join hands in common cause with women in the audience.
WomenArts, incorporated as the Fund for Women Artists, is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) that was created by Richards in 1994 as a worldwide community of artists and allies that works for empowerment, opportunity, and visibility for women artists. The WomenArts Network is an online directory of over 1,000 women artists from all over the world that provides a variety of free online networking, fundraising, and advocacy services.
The members of WomenArts believe in the power of women artists to create, connect, and change the world. Richards explains that the increased visibility of women’s artistic expressions affects how women are treated everywhere—in all walks of life, and wherever gender may be an issue—in academia, in business, in politics, and in local communities.
SWAN Day and the other programs of WomenArts are made possible by generous grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Nathan Cummings Foundation, the Meyer Levy Charitable Foundation, the Peace Development Fund, the Gratitude Fund of the East Bay Community Foundation, the Leo S. Guthman Fund, The Sister Fund, and by gifts of time, energy, and money from artists and arts supporters around the world.
WITASWAN (“wit-uh-swan”) is an Internet initiative, a grass roots movement, a cause—not an organization. It is an informal alliance of women who use their power as consumers to increase opportunities for women artists. It began in 2004 with the Illinois division of AAUW (the American Association of University Women), when the AAUW-Illinois Board of Directors created an “incubator” for a new project: members pledged to see one film every month (either in theatres or on DVD) that was written and/or directed by a woman filmmaker.
WITASWAN is not an organization—it has no dues, no meetings, and no committees. WITASWAN exists to provide a way for women—either on their own or within established organizations such as AAUW—to work collaboratively once each year with other women in their own community on an issue of common concern.
Working together on International SWAN Day, and focusing attention on the work of women artists in all media, Richards and Huttner want people everywhere to imagine what the world would be like if women’s perspectives were fully integrated into all of facets of modern life.
By the 4th International SWAN Day (on 3/26/11)—only four years after it launched—WomenArts and WITASWAN had provided encouragement and collateral materials for over 700 events all around the world including Argentina, Australia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Croatia, France, Germany, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Kenya, Philippines, Romania, Uruguay, Wales/U.K., and, of course, the USA. And events planned on and around March 31, 2012—the 5th annual International SWAN Day—will make this year the most exciting yet!
How to Participate in the 5th annual International SWAN Day
Host a SWAN Day Party
Gather friends at your house to talk about ways that you might help the women artists in your community. Invite local artists to speak at the party or use the WomenArts Network at www.WomenArts.org/network to find artists that you would like to support. If you want to find films written and/or directed by women to show at your party, check out Jan’s reviews for WomenArts at www.WomenArts.org/reviews
Introduce Students to Women Artists in the USA & Elsewhere
If you are a teacher and would like to introduce your students to women artists, please contact WomenArts and we will try to find a good match. We are especially interested in organizing international pen pal and artist exchange programs.
Donate to Your Favorite Women Artists
If you love seeing the work of a particular woman artist, send her a check on SWAN Day to help her make more art.
Wear SWAN Hats, Pins, Shirts and other SWAN Items
Since the acronym for “Support Women Artists Now” is “SWAN,” you can show your support by wearing shirts, jewelry, and other items featuring swans. When people ask you, tell them you are wearing swans because you want to see more art that reflecting women’s perspectives. These casual conversations are a great way to make people more aware of the discrimination faced by women artists. We have SWAN shirts, hats, and mugs available in the SWAN Store at www.CafePress.com/swanday.
Resources Available on the WomenArts Website
We have posted Publicity Tools and Fundraising Tools to help you organize your event, and you can download one of our official SWAN Day logos. If you have questions, please feel free to write to us at info@WomenArts.org and put “SWAN Day Event” in the subject line.
And remember: Once you have created an event, post it on the SWAN Day calendar!
Click here to download this press release as a pdf file –> 12Mar08PressRelease
© FF2 Media (3/7/12)