Behind the scenes of #WOWPerth, is the hard work, devotion, and passion of many women. Lou Brodie is one of them, playing a central role as the programmer who made it all happen in Perth. “The festival aims to inspire debate as well as positive change”, says Lou. “It is a call to action not just of the head but of the heart also”.
Brodie’s involvement with the Southbank Centre, and WOW started in Jan 2017, when she saw the advertisement for the role of programmer. “I had this feeling that when I read the job description, that I knew I could do it. I've never felt quite so convinced of something before, but I knew I had the skill set - and the ethos of the festival resonated so much with the arts work I have been doing over the years”, Lou told me.
So why Perth? “The whole of Year One people would ask me this - and sometimes still now people ask me - and in the beginning I would really answer with all the practical reasons why, and the process of how Perth became the ideal place to host one of the WOW Spirit festivals. But after a while of being asked that question, I started to respond with: ‘Why not Perth?’.
Why not celebrate the women of Perth? Why not have the them host this amazing festival, that offers us an opportunity to shout about Scotland's role in the fight for gender equality? - Lou Brodie
Scale and population size doesn't mean you have more or less right to join the conversation about gender equality - nor does it dictate whether or not you can be a leader in the conversation. So why not celebrate the women of Perth? Why not have the them host this amazing festival, that offers us an opportunity to shout about Scotland's role in the fight for gender equality?”
Lou’s involvement with the arts has been a constant in her life from the very beginning. A graduate of the Royal Scottish Academy of Music, Lou went on to work with a range of companies and artists from Tramway Glasgow, to Visible Fictions. In her own practice as a performance maker and applied artist, Lou works predominantly with children and teens, creating projects and performances that celebrate and empower their voices.
Her artistic process is led by social practice and a distinct warmth - she works collaboratively with communities, people, and places to create something very unique.
Her work has been described as “gently probing the role of risk, responsibility, and intimacy”. Her multidisciplinary series, ‘Bricking It’, saw her host a ‘How to Throw a Brick Workshop’ – a self-explanatory workshop which aimed to delve into our fascination with creation and destruction.
Other works are quieter, softer: in ‘Palm to Palm’, Lou sought to hold hands with a new person for 30 minutes, everyday for a year. Some she held intimate bonds with, others were strangers.
Perhaps a work particularly pertinent in the context of WOW, would be the project ‘Helen’s Letters’, of which she is co-creator. This project was carried out when Lou carried out her residency at Lyra in 2017. Named in honour of Helen Crummy - who is also one of the 100 women celebrated on the Travelling the Distance sculpture by Shauna McMullan at the Scottish Parliament - the project “explores the connections between girls, the women they look up to and the women who have an impact on their lives.”
Through creative exercise, games and activities, the girls uncovered what makes a role model, the women that are important to them, and the beautiful art of letter writing. Brodie hasn’t shied away from taking risks in her artistry, and this is an ethos she wants festival goers to take away from their time at WOW this year.
“The festival is a space for you to connect with those you may not have met before, to ask the questions you’ve been dying to ask, and to take risks”, Lou states. She has been upfront about her commitment to diversity, too. “Diversity and inclusivity stand front and centre at WOW - WOW Perth 2018 is for everyone and celebrates all those who identify as women, girls and non-binary, and the men and boys who support them”.
Given Lou’s impressive track record, you just know that WOW Perth is in very capable hands, as it returns for its second year this September. Make sure you join in the incredibly vast array of events - from workshops on ‘Suffrajitsu’, to conversations on motherhood, to workshops on art and activism.
Find out more about WOW Perth on their Facebook page, ‘WOW PERTH’, and purchase your tickets here.