The historic International SWAN Day gathering took place in Milwaukee at the Statera Arts Conference (Oct. 4-7) where women from all over the world met to discuss the future of SWAN Day and witness “the swan” being passed on to Statera Arts (read more here).
This historic moment had a significance beyond just being a historical moment - it became the day of SWAN’s future. Many organizers and participants began an important discussion of what is going to happen and what should happen next in organizing SWAN events around the world. Part of what the discussion included:
Jeana Dean, participant at the conference, expressed an interest in bringing SWAN Day to her region in Canada.
Jamie Bruchman, SWAN organizer from Milwaukee said: “I think this would be a beautiful way to encourage people to learn and participate in SWAN centered activities. SWAN Day Milwaukee has definitely spread in Milwaukee but is still really new. Emphasizing the global efforts helps explain the concept more and bring awareness to its long history and wide reach.”
Jennifer Hill, organizer Connecticut Swan Day: “The more swans that support each other in different states the more exposure we all get. This is how my events work. We swap within states near us but I also think that should happen internationally as well.”
Rachel Hewitt, participant: “The international exchange of ideas always excites me because it’s a wonderful reminder how many of our artistic and structural inhibitors are cultural. Increasing exposure to how art is made in other places helps deconstruct a lot of these inhibitors.”
Deborah Magdalena, organizer of SWAN Spoken Word Festival, Miami: “I think we should make a documentary and follow SWAN events around the world. I also think we should change the date of SWAN Day to be something like a Mother’s Day.”
Nyakwar Dowllar, SWAN Day organizer from Kenya: “We should have SWAN Day at least once a month. Women artists in Kenya want to meet more than just once a year. It is not enough for us. Why should we meet just once a year?”
Various visions were discussed during the conference about next steps for SWAN Day. The Statera Arts founders took upon themselves the torch to continue on the dreams and visions of the future of SWAN and to make sure that this day continues to fulfill its mission and legacy. I have never experienced such a strong and diverse bond between women fighting for what they believe in their communities. Art is what connects them, breathes them.
During the conference, these women spent a lot of time together bonding and talking, creating friendships that last a lifetime. We ate lunch together, attended plays, sessions and we laughed, talked. I was fortunate enough to be among them. I witnessed the birth of a new SWAN Day.
SWAN Day is no longer just a day where artistic women share art and common passion together but they share personal stories, life experiences, challenges. It is the bond that exists between the artists and the audience that is connected and formed as a breathing organism that creates change. It is a thread that no matter how you stretch it or tangle it, it simply gets longer and connects an artistic whole that becomes its own force.
My goal for SWAN Day Chicago is to create a safe space where artists and audience can come together and share, bond through ideas, and on a more regular basis than the last Saturday in March. It could include festivals where women performers can give people a platform to discuss their ideas - creating the connection between the artists and the audiences.
“I believe art is a dyadic process – a ‘handshake’ between an artist & an audience,” SWAN Day co-founder Jan Lisa Huttner said. “Without audience participation, an artist gets neither emotional nor financial compensation (both of which are essential) and, even worse, she gets no feedback in the moment. Without women artists, women in the audience have no one who speaks to their deep identity as women. Without the audience/artist handshake, all you get - at most - is the sound of one clapping,” she said.
As SWAN Day 2019 approaches, a greater presence on social media platforms will help generate more attention, allowing more people to know what it is, how it changes lives and how they can get involved. Every person is connected in some way or another to someone and simply sharing the word with them can help create a viral experience to involve more women in the US and round the world. Social media is a great platform to connect people and spread the word.
Vanessa Gendron, SWAN Prague Festival organizer, said: “My motivation is for women in the arts to have a chance to perform and exhibit during the events. Meeting other artists and creating in a non-judgmental space. Giving opportunities to create together within the community.”
I believe artists, especially women artists, share a common goal, a vision, to make a change and break the silence, to fight against stereotypes and be who they were meant to be beyond the role of mothers. This movement is SWAN Day and it must be continued in every city.
It all starts with a discussion and a plan. This discussion can take place anywhere - on chats, social media, in person. It is just important to start the conversation and it has already started in many cities around the world, including Chicago. It is time after the discussion to take action and execute the vision of SWAN Day to unite women artists and female audiences around the world.
To learn more about SWAN Day, visit the Statera Arts website.
© Nikoleta Morales (10/10/18) FF2 Media