Over­com­ing ob­sta­cles

As WOW Ex­eter pre­pares to open its doors for its sec­ond year STEPHANIE DARKES shares the low­down on the unique event

Devon Life - - Wow Festival -

The South­bank Cen­tre’s Women of the World Fes­ti­val cel­e­brates the achieve­ments of women and girls and takes the op­por­tu­nity to high­light some of the ob­sta­cles that are still in the way of them from reach­ing their full po­ten­tial.

In my hum­ble opin­ion, WOW sits proudly with Tedx­ex­eter as one of the best ‘fes­ti­vals of thought’ in the city. I was lucky enough to get along last year where I stepped out of my com­fort zone into a com­edy work­shop, lis­tened to a talk on in­ter­sec­tion­al­ity – which was fas­ci­nat­ing by the way. I was wowed by a cham­pion beat­boxer, par­took in some speed men­tor­ing and met some fas­ci­nat­ing peo­ple. The whole event was a roar­ing suc­cess.

‘We pro­grammed this year’s fes­ti­val by talk­ing to the peo­ple of Ex­eter and try­ing to un­der­stand what they want’

Deb­bie Bu­cella and Chloe Whip­ple, the WOW Ex­eter pro­gram­mers, say: “As we launched WOW Ex­eter just one year ago, Har­vey We­in­stein was on the front pages world­wide, the #Metoo move­ment was build­ing mo­men­tum and peo­ple ev­ery­where were start­ing to shout ‘Time’s Up!’ It was the start of a loud and chal­leng­ing year for gen­der equal­ity.”

One of WOW’S bril­liant, unique fea­tures is that it is cu­rated by the au­di­ence. Thanks to Deb­bie and Chloe, this year’s line-up is also look­ing spec­tac­u­lar.

They ex­plain: “As ever we pro­grammed this year’s fes­ti­val by talk­ing to the peo­ple of Ex­eter and try­ing to un­der­stand what they want from this year’s WOW. The con­ver­sa­tion has def­i­nitely changed, but it is no less ur­gent and no less nec­es­sary.

“We have loved ev­ery mo­ment of the process, ev­ery new per­son we have met and ev­ery thought that has been shared with us. We’ve tried to in­clude it all in here, and we hope that you love it too.”

This year WOW Ex­eter brings to­gether ac­tivists such as Megan Crabbe (@Bodi­posi­panda) au­thor and body pos­i­tiv­ity ac­tivist, Grace Camp­bell, co-founder of The Pink Protest, who led the mas­sive cam­paign against ‘pe­riod tax’, and Chidera Egerue, the ac­tivist who started the hash­tag #Sag­gy­boob­s­mat­ter.

There are lots of work­shops to par­tic­i­pate in. From the sub­lime cello-ac­com­pa­nied morn­ing yoga, to the prac­ti­cal tyre-chang­ing work­shop, by­stander train­ing and a whis­tle-stop tour of fe­male plea­sure. There is also the op­por­tu­nity to get your dance on at African dance, wild dance and twerk­ing work­shops.

Fun aside, WOW also tack­les the im­mense chal­lenges women face to­day with dis­cus­sions this year around the in­vis­i­ble (older wo)man, do­mes­tic vi­o­lence, bridg­ing the gen­der pay gap and women and home­less­ness.

WOW is for every­body - Paul Manville, fa­ther, Ex­o­nian and WOW at­tendee last year says: “What I re­alised at WOW is that when the con­ver­sa­tion is one-sided, no-one wins out. We have to do this to­gether. So come along this year, and join in the con­ver­sa­tion.” WOW Ex­eter is about plenty of healthy de­bate, talks, mu­sic, ac­tivism, men­tor­ing, pop-ups and per­for­mance and it should be a must on ev­ery­one’s so­cial cal­en­dar. For more in­for­ma­tion fol­low @Wowex­eter on Face­book, Twit­ter or In­sta­gram. For tick­ets head to ex­eter­phoenix. com

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