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