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Calgary’s new Femme Wave feminist arts fest has music, art, film, comedy, DJs and workshops

By Jennie Orton
Co-founders Hayley Muir and Kaely Cormack are helping organize Femme Wave, which runs November 26th to 29th in Calgary.

Co-founders Hayley Muir and Kaely Cormack are helping organize Femme Wave, which runs November 26th to 29th in Calgary.

CALGARY — Hayley Muir (full disclosure: print production for BeatRoute) and Kaely Cormack, the voice and guitar of Calgary’s swaggering mostly-female garage punk band The Shiverettes, are the brains behind the first-ever Femme Wave festival. Despite the Internet currently being extraordinarily hostile when it comes to discussions around feminism, they aim to have a real life event that creates a dialogue and location for women in art to thrive.

“As a group, we want to celebrate the unique and underrepresented voices in the arts, specifically those of anyone who identifies as a woman. We aim to showcase the music, comedy, visual art and film of marginalized groups in Calgary and its surrounding areas. We hope that Femme Wave Fest will serve as more than just a music and arts festival – we hope it serves as a safe space for anyone who feels ignored, pushed to the side or overlooked,” says their Kickstarter campaign, which raised $6,075 (far superseding their $5,000 goal). All of that money will go towards paying the artists who are performing.

“The community of incredible women in Calgary is really fantastic and they do a great job of representing themselves and work really hard. The push for there to be a stage that is just for them isn’t really great so we wanted to fill that gap,” says Muir, who helped organize the festival that runs from Thursday, November 26th until Sunday, November 29th.

“I’m sure there are girls and women who are into punk rock or live shows but who maybe don’t feel like that’s their space because it is so dude heavy.”

The fest has also been curated by a decidedly heavy squad that includes Adele Brunnhofer, film curator for Sled Island; The Pygmies’ Kenna Burima; Nicola Lefevre who runs the immensely popular Girls Rock Camp; local comic Sarah Adams; and Natasha Jensen of the Calgary Arts Common.

Though the fest is a showcase for female talent, males are very welcome and encouraged, and are featured in an artistic capacity across the lineup.

“We want men to come. As much as we want to create a safe space for women, we want men to come and see that,” says Muir, who stresses that inclusivity requires that everyone is welcome and appreciated.

“We don’t want to shut them out because then we aren’t accomplishing anything.”

Femme Wave runs in Calgary from Thursday, November 26th until Sunday, November 29th. You can check them out online at

Festival Schedule

Poster: Retrieved from Femme Wave Facebook page.

Poster: Retrieved from Femme Wave Facebook page.

The first Femme Wave festival will hit multiple venues downtown in late November. Here is your schedule of the event and some acts that shouldn’t be missed!

Thursday, November 26

Opening Reception @ CommunityWise from 7 p.m. until 9 p.m.: Feminist, visual artist, and activist Sharon Stevens along with other speakers will host an open and educational evening surrounding the history of feminism in Calgary, how to be an advocate, and information on intersexual feminism. This inclusive and positive celebration of the idea of feminism will serve as a spirited kickoff to the festival.

Comedy and Music @ Broken City from 9 p.m. until 1 a.m.: Come for the hilarity of the female comics curated by Sarah Adams, stay for the immersive and throbbing psychedelic feast that is Sleepkit. Also don’t miss the rumbling guitars and haunted rhythms of Ghostkeeper.

Friday, November 27

Film Showcase @ Good Luck Bar from 7 p.m. until 10 p.m.: A panel discussion and film screening coordinated by Sled Island Film curator Adele Brunhoffer. The panel discussion, which beings at 7 p.m., centers around the subject of women in the film industry and will feature female filmmakers. The subsequent screening of work by acclaimed and up-and-coming female filmmakers will feature local, national, and international works in several genres and formats. The screening will be co-presented by GIRAF animation festival.

Going Solo Night @ Nite Owl from 9 p.m. onwards: A night curated by the Pygmies’ Kenna Burima with the word “solo” taking on a double meaning. The night will feature performances by female Calgary solo musicians, including the bold outlaw country swagger of Mariel Buckley and her soundtrack to how to be a ramblin’ woman, but it also exists to promote a safe environment for women to see shows solo. According to Burima, “Travelling in groups is many times a part of a strategy to stay safe while going out at night. Show up at the Nite Owl solo (or bring a friend!) and know that you will be surrounded by other like-minded individuals looking out for you.”

Saturday November 28

All-Ages Show @ Tubby Dog from 4 p.m. until 8 p.m.: Nicola Lefevre brings the talent from her Girls Rock Camp to the stage in an all-ages showcase. Come see the rock trio A-Bomb who recently got a shout out from local titans Napalmpom for doing a bang-up cover of their tune “Get With Me,” and Suburban Moms, a feminist punk rock group who are already using the word “misogyny” in their lyrics at an age where most of us thought that was some kind of card game.

Music Showcase @ Palomino from 9 p.m. onwards: Femme Wave takes over the Palomino upstairs and down with selections from the roster of confirmed bands such as the spitting fury of Lethbridge’s favourite punk rock twins Fist City, everyone’s favourite local garage rock crush Miesha and the Spanks, and absurdly talented Edmonton folk singer/songwriter Marlaena Moore. Final line-up details are online now.

Sunday, November 29

C.U.L.T. and Femme Wave feminist artist market @ The Drum & Monkey from noon to 5 p.m: Kick off your holiday shopping supporting local artists. CJSW DJs will be playing tunes during the market. $3 at the door or, alternately, you can donate a hygiene product. Proceeds will go to the Y.W.C.A.

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