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About WiM - History
Introduction | History

Nicola LeFanu
Nicola LeFanu
Women in Music (WiM) celebrates its 21st anniversary in 2008. Founded in 1987, WiM emerged on to the scene through organising the "Hidden Sounds" festival at the South Bank. Nicola LeFanu caused a media stir with a paper called 'Master Musicians - an impregnable taboo', drawing attention to the paucity of music by women composers in the public eye.

The festival brought together women from all genres of music with similar concerns and Women in Music grew organically through hard work from a handful of enthusiastic volunteers, with support from local London boroughs, and the Arts Council of England.

The first London-wide Women in Music festival was held in 1990. It was an exciting, vibrant and ambitious festival, which celebrated and showcased women in Jazz, Classical, Contemporary, World, New Age, Opera, Folk, House, Hip-Hop, Rap, Rock and Pop music. It took place in a great variety of venues across London, including the ICA, the Purcell Room, The Fridge and the Shaw Theatre. A second London-wide Women in Music festival was held in 1994.

A ground-breaking Music and Gender conference in July 1991 at Kings College London attracted participants from all over the world. WiM members contributed papers, performances and compositions. This was followed by the first Music, Gender and Education Conference, held at Bristol University in March 1993. There are now regular conferences on these themes.

WiM organised 'Women Can Rock Worldwide',at T&C II in London, in partnership with promoters Half the Sky, and a series of music business surgeries in London, Chard, Manchester and Nottingham.

WiM has been supported by, and worked in partnership with, many different organisations. Since core-funding from the Arts Council England was withdrawn in 2002, WiM has taken part in "Creative Renewal", a European Social Fund project aiming to address labour market inequality in the arts sector. Under this scheme WiM developed and implemented a mentoring scheme to support the professional development of women in music. In partnership with PRS Foundation and the Esme Fairbairn Foundation Women in Music has made two rounds of awards in 2001 and 2003 from its Commissioning Fund, to which women composers, performers and promoters were invited to submit "visionary, innovative and radical" projects. WiM is a partner organisation to the Women's National Commission - the official advisory body giving the views of women to the government.