Radio presenter Laura Locke hatched the idea of a festival to raise the profile of women in the arts and music over a year ago, after it had occurred to her that there had never been an event to celebrate International Women’s Day in her hometown of Felixstowe. The live events may have been postponed until September, but there is still something to celebrate this weekend
My life up until now has been fulfilling and full of unexpected turns. I worked in travel and tourism, had two sons and then did a degree in media and literary studies and became a news editor of Suffolk and Essex Business magazines. I then went into education to be a research officer in e-learning and eventually became a senior lecturer in events and tourism management at the University of Suffolk. I studied for a Masters degree in Arts Management, left the uni in 2017 but am still a Visiting Fellow.
As part of my work and studies at the university, I became interested in the role of women in society and also ran women’s events including International Women’s Day (IWD) conferences. So, when I left the university, I decided to continue to run similar events.
I also became a radio presenter for Felixstowe Radio for a Women’s hour programme on Fridays at 10am. I interviewed two brilliant sopranos, Fiona Jessica Wilson and Christina Johnston, who lived and worked nearby, and we remarked on the fact that there had never been an event for IWD in Felixstowe. And that’s where it all started.
WAMfest Felixstowe was really coming together. We had a great team, confirmed a range of venues and artists, some great performers were all booked and we actually had funding in place. It’s been long year but the WAMfest project and my work at the radio has kept me motivated and engaged with people, albeit mostly virtually.
It is very important to celebrate International Women’s Day and women’s creativity and artistic endeavour, particularly when so much has had to be put on hold. The WAM women team decided we would commission, from Swallow Media, a very short taster video to be produced, to include all the elements that were to be presented live, to give a taste of what we intended to (and are determined will) happen.
We are also having a mural created in the centre of Felixstowe by Catalina Carvajal which promises to be a colourful homage to women. This will develop month on month over the summer. And there will be an exhibition of women’s art in the gallery at 142 Hamilton Road. All this will start to appear before the weekend of March 5-8.
WAMfest Felixstowe, it is proposed, will happen over the weekend of the ‘Art on the Prom’ event in Felixstowe, September 4-5. Music (including soloists, bands and choirs), art exhibitions, literary sessions and Spanish dance are all planned, subject to availability of the artists and multiple venues – including the Orwell Hotel Felixstowe and Two Sisters Arts Centre in Trimley.
We do hope that our objective of bringing together the community to celebrate women’s creativity will support the much-needed rebuilding of the economy of the town of Felixstowe, as well as help with the regrowth of the creative sector and the loss of events and artists’ livelihood.
International Women’s Day takes place on March 8. If you would like more information, to participate, or to support WAMfest Felixstowe 2021 please contact the WAM women, via Laura Locke, through Facebook or Instagram. Catalina’s mural will be one panel at a time subject to funding. The team are hoping to create icons of womanhood on various panels – local, national, international, legendary, and community personalities, including women in the arts and music, charity or business. Please post your suggestions by March 9 for the WAMfest Team and Catalina to consider.