BABES FEST combats gender inequality by celebrating women in the arts

Hannah Plantowsky

Women make up half of music festivals’ attendees, yet only 5 to 19 percent of their performers are female. Women make up 51 percent of today’s visual artists, yet earn 81 cents to every male artist’s dollar. BABES FEST, an all women’s performance festival, attempts to combat these statistics.

#bossbabesATX will host its second annual BABES FEST: a three-day entertainment festival from July 28 to 30 that embodies #bossbabesATX’s core missions—to connect and amplify women’s voices; to promote and facilitate community organizing and political involvement; and to support women’s personal and professional development in the creative industry. Presenting comedians, musicians and filmmakers, BABES FEST provides a platform for women in the arts to be discovered and celebrated.

“We wanted to create a space for self-identifying women to be at the forefront,” Leslie Lozano, one of the producers of BABES FEST, said.  We notice at a lot of festivals that women are a minority and we wanted to change that, “We wanted to show that there are amazing (performers) that happen to be women out there.(BABES FEST) is a big celebration of women’s arts.”

June Chee, a member of the #bossbabesATX team and art history and International Relations and Global Studies senior, said providing a forum for these women to be seen and heard is crucial to the empowerment of all women.

“BABES FEST really highlights the intentions of #bossbabesATX, which is to provide a platform for self-identifying female artists and women in creative industries because it helps to promote a platform where they can show up to the world,” Chee said.

Though the purpose of the event is to celebrate women, Jane Claire Hervey, founder of #bossbabesATX, said when selecting each of these performers that their sex was not at the forefront of their decision making.

“Everyone was selected entirely based on talent and not so much gender identity,” Hervey said. “We really wanted to feature women artists that we admire and respect and that we feel would benefit from being around other women artists.”

Aside from the performances themselves, BABES FEST hopes to double as a model for other festivals.

“We’re talking with other festival lineups about how they can better improve the quality and equality of their festivals,” Hervey said. “What we’re trying to demonstrate with BABES FEST is that it’s not that talented women aren’t out there, it’s that we’re not booking them.”    

The educational component to BABES FEST allows #bossbabesATX to influence others in the creative industry to be more mindful of their inclusion of women.

“We’re not here to point fingers or to make people feel some type of way. We’re just putting out the facts, and if the facts coincide with what other festivals are doing then that’s a good conversation to start,” Lozano said. “If we don’t start taking action nothing will change. (These conversations) put the responsibility on everyone – not just #bossbabesATX or other women’s organization.”