There’s an exciting online resource called the Women’s Liberation Movement Music Archive, which documents the bands, musicians and musical projects that were part of the burgeoning of creativity generated by the Women’s Liberation Movement (WLM) of the 1970s and 1980s.
During that era, women’s music, film and theatre groups, visual art, literature, performance art, street theatre and other activities proliferated, fusing artistic activities with politics to develop and express feminist ideas.
Feminist bands and musicians were not solely about providing entertainment, but also embodied a commitment to putting politics into practice and advancing women’s rights. Challenging sexism and stereotyped gender roles, their lyrics and style reflected the values of the WLM. They were a vital and integral part of the movement, yet are often omitted from, or marginalised by, the media and historical accounts.
Concerned that this part of women’s history was at risk of being lost, Dr Deborah Withers and Frankie Green believe the achievements of these music-makers should be mapped and celebrated. This work-in-progress collection comprises testimonies and interviews, discographies, gigographies and memorabilia – plus links to ongoing women’s music-making and feminist activism.
Music & Liberation, An Exhibition about Women’s Liberation Music Making in the UK (1970-1989) will show how feminists used music as an activist tool to entertain and empower women during the 1970s and 1980s. It brings together a diverse collection of women’s cultural heritage to inspire and inform contemporary audiences about the politics of music making.
The grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund was announced in January, and will be spent on a touring exhibition visiting the following venues:
Butetown History & Arts Centre, Cardiff 4 – 24 September
Bureau Gallery, Manchester, 27 September – 25 October
Glasgow Women’s Library, Glasgow, 29 October – 26 November
Space Station Sixty-Five, London 30 Nov – 15 Jan 2013
The HLF grant will pay for the high-quality digitisation of audio and visual material, including live performances, studio recordings, practices and TV appearances. A CD of music from Music & Liberation will be produced, and 10 new oral histories collected. The music, films and oral histories will be available to watch and listen to at the exhibition. Ephemera and artefacts such as posters, songbooks, t-shirts, instruments and flyers will also be displayed.