In Denver’s cultural landscape, an abundance of art and music options creates for a long list of weekend to-do’s. To stand out with an event or a festival in the city that is awakened by blue skies and rooftop patios can be difficult. However, the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) is preparing to host its third installment of a festival unlike any other.
Fem Fest is a one-day experience that is far more than art and music, though it is rich in abundance of both. Stemming from the influence of Feminism & Co, Fem Fest is a multi-faceted event within a creative community that connects gender and culture, elevating the discourse around women’s issues.
Open to all genders, the museum will see both members and fresh faces inside its doors on Saturday, May 18, as people immerse themselves in workshops, partake in the shopping of local vendors, nom on some delicious delights, laugh-out-loud to comedians stories of, and jam out to Denver’s favorite local musicians. From basement to rooftop, there is something for everyone, truly, for everyone.
“I think allowing for a space where people can either be full-on immersed, just observing, or somewhere in between, is part of what makes this the perfect sort of performance or art space,” said Bree Davies, Fem Fest festival producer. For Davies, who has now produced Fem Fest for the third consecutive year at MCA, inclusion is truly the core mission of the day, cultivating a place that is as creative as it is welcoming.
“For some people who come, this may be their first experience with a workshop on female empowerment, or a workshop on building their own synthesizer, and part of that accessibility is just saying, ‘Be involved in whatever level that you want,’” Davies said. She did a lot of work with the museum to ensure that this will be an experience that honors all kinds of people, but even more so the ones who typically are left out of the inferred “inclusivity” of festivals.
“Accessibility is the biggest component because it intersects in so many ways,” she said. “I don’t like to do things that are not accessible to everyone, in many senses of accessibility, whether that’s physical or economic, or in the weird world of art, the arbitrary age barriers that are created around who can and can’t participate in art. Like, think about the average ticket to a Grandoozy level festival; it’s inaccessible.”
Base rates for the day are an admittance fee of a maximum $8, only $6 for members, and $2 for anyone under the age of 18. Workshops are an additional fee, though so much is available for attendees at the base level price, that makes this event unlike any other. Tickets can still be purchased on the website, or in-person at the door.
The event is all-ages, and not alcohol-centered, another important factor when Davies is planning any event. She won’t compromise on the fact that art and music need to be available to everyone, as so many festivals are generally geared towards drinking and substance use. While Fem Fest is sponsored by Ratio Brewery, and alcohol will be available, Davies was intentional in choosing a company that really cares about the community and that the entire experience is not centered around that.
Additionally, Davies has chosen to work with host MCA for the last three years because it is a physically accessible place. With an elevator and ramps to provide easier access throughout the museum and into performance spaces, festivals are typically held on grass or gravel covered spaces, that make it challenging, even impossible, to navigate a wheelchair or mobility device.
“For somebody like me, who’s coming from the no money, but unlimited possibility world of DIY, the MCA couldn’t be a better partner,” she said.
Throughout the day, attendees can peruse the art installations at MCA between workshops based on topics like sex-positivity, therapeutic art, coding and crafting, and movement. They can record an oral history on vinyl with ArtHyve and have a professional portrait taken by photographer Amanda Corrales.
Live music from Yasi, Kayla Marque, The Milk Blossoms, Rare Byrd$, and DJ’s will be performed on the rooftop overlooking the downtown skyline while comedians Lily Ostberg, Miriam Moreno, and Jacq the Stripper will be dishing out their best jokes. Tarot readers will be setup in the Soul Lounge and available to unlock the mysteries of the past, present, and future. The day really does have something for everyone.
“It’s about relationships, and I think sometimes that’s overlooked, especially when we have more corporate-run festivals. You can’t create human connection, it’s organic, it has to be organic. So the majority of the folks that I’m working with are people that I’ve met through other art events or recommendations from people who have reached out to me,” she said.
Possibly one of the best parts, Davies said, is that the event is truly Denver-centric. She has fostered an invaluable and abundant world of artists in the years that she has been involved in the Denver DIY scene, and as she tapped the shoulders of those she wanted to bring into the event, they came running. From musician, to comedians, to craftswomxn, to photographers, and beyond, her connections continue to bear a beautiful fruit of the creative community.