Brighton Women’s Centre are kicking off their International Women’s Day celebrations with an eclectic gig night on 24th February at St George’s in Kemptown, Come Together: An International Women’s Day Extravaganza. The line-up features six female-lead performances and some special guests, including local arts and music collective Sista Selecta and 80’s feminist rock bank Siren. Ahead of the event, we caught up with Sista Selecta and Siren to find out more about their work and what International Women’s day represents to them.
Can you start off by telling us a bit about your work?
SS- Sista Selecta are a music and arts collective based in Brighton. Our mission is to promote new and Inspiring female DJ’s, performers & Artists, within the events, leisure and social industries.
Siren- We are an all-women, lesbian feminist band formed at the start of 1980 at the height of Thatcher’s Britain. We aimed our artistic expression at Margaret Thatcher’s conservatism, and the sexist and homophobic assumptions that were built deep into the social infrastructure. Influenced by Punk and New Wave music, we forged our own style of songs that had at their core a critique of life under the cloud of the reactionary conservatism. Now, over thirty years later, Siren is still making music that responds to the pressing issues of today – many of which have echoes with those of the 80’s.
What is the best thing each of you has done together?
SS- Co-presenting our fortnightly Sista Selecta radio show on 1BTN. You can catch us here if you want to check us out ahead of the gig: https://www.mixcloud.com/sistaselecta/
Siren- The best thing we’ve done together is always what we are doing now! We are writing new songs covering current issues, such as women’s homelessness and the #MeToo campaign, as well as reworking some of our older material. We also love performing with our daughters as ‘backing singers’ when they are in town, and feel proud to be part of the vibrant women’s movement and LGBTQ scene in Brighton, challenging and being challenged!
That all sounds so exciting. I would definitely recommend tuning in to 1BTN to hear Sista Selecta’s show! So thinking about International Women’s Day, why do you feel it’s an important celebration?
Siren- Although much progress has been made to promote women’s rights, long before and since we were fighting for them in the 80s, women continue to be subjected to rape, violence and sexual assault, both here and throughout the world. Many forms of inequality still exist, and sometimes things appear to be going backwards. For us, celebrating IWD gives us the chance to celebrate the successes we have all achieved, to highlight what still needs to be fought for and to remind each other not to let any of the gains slip away.
SS- We think it’s incredibly important to remember and appreciate the struggles women have had to go through for equality and honour those woman who are still fighting for the cause. We recognise that there is a huge under representation and lack of support for females to branch out into particular industries. The music and arts sector can be a predominantly male environment and can be an intimidating place for many young and older woman. It’s our aim to support and encourage female from all walks of life to follow their dreams. For us, every day is International Women’s Day!
Siren – IWD also gives us the chance to highlight the achievement of the woman who started the ‘Me Too’ campaign over 10 years ago, Tarana Burke. She is a civil rights activist and the Senior Director of Girls for Gender Equity in the US. We can’t ask nicely for things to change. Powerful offenders have to be brought down – we’ve found a voice to say it again and we must continue to use it.
Tickets to the event are £5 with all proceeds to Brighton Women’s Centre, tickets can be bought here http://www.wegottickets.com/event/426894
The following weekend, Brighton Women’s Centre will be hosting another International Women’s Day celebration at Brighton Dome. See here for more details: https://brightoninternationalwomensday.org/