The Red Tent comes to Greenbelt

The Red Tent comes to Greenbelt

On this, International Women’s Day, we are pleased to announce that at this year’s Greenbelt Festival we’ll be introducing a brand new Red Tent venue – with its own dedicated programme.

Now, we know we’re not first on the block here …

Since (and probably way before!) Anita Diamant’s wonderful 1997 book told the imagined story of Dinah (daughter of Old Testament Jacob and sister of Joseph), women have gathered together in ‘Red Tent’ settings in their communities. And, increasingly, women are taking the chance to gather together at events, too. To remember, listen and honour one another.

As Anita wrote in the Prologue to her book: “It is terrible how much has been forgotten, which is why, I suppose, remembering seems a holy thing.”

We’ve noticed over the years at the festival that any time we have programmed something that has sought to privilege the experience of women, there is always a great turn-out. It’s clear there is a real hunger for space and time for women to connect with each other, with their experiences and with their shared histories and futures. To laugh together. To honour one another.

Last year, we were pleased to welcome Alice Wroe and her Herstory initiative to the festival. We also hosted Julie Siddiqi’s Faithfully Feminist: Why We Stay interfaith conversation in the Canvas venue. A packed tent heard the experiences of a Muslim, a Jewish and a Christian woman in their struggle for equality in their respective faith traditions. We’re releasing the film footage of this incredible conversation today on our Youtube channel to mark International Women’s Day.

This year, we are pleased to welcome back feminist craftivist Sarah Corbett to Greenbelt, and to introduce Palestinian citizen of Israel and feminist Khulud Khamis from Haifa. But the first lineup names boast plenty more fabulous women artists, thinkers and speakers – like folk star Kate Rusby, economic commentator Ann Pettifor, blues guitarist Joanne Shaw Taylor, novelist Chibundo Onuzo, spoken-word MC Speech Debelle and the agit-art of Sh!t Theatre. And there are many more besides these great women on the bill already.

Our plans for the Greenbelt Red Tent are just beginning to take shape. But one thing is for sure – it won’t be crammed with back-to-back formal programming. Besides the scheduled laughs, provocation and conversation, the venue will provide a space to chill, chat and just be. The Red Tent will be a place of refuge, a place of honesty, a place of fun and empowerment. And it will be hosted by a group of great Greenbelt women.

Here’s what one of them, trustee Kate Bottley says:

“Greenbelt has always been a festival based on equality and I’m really excited that this year’s event will have a dedicated space for discussing women’s issues. I’m looking forward to authentic debate, wrestling with key issues and laughing until my bra strap gives way. I expect there will be some tears too. On this INWD huge thanks to my sisters and brothers at Greenbelt festival for this exciting new venue.”

Watch this space for more details in announcements between now and our end-of-April Tier One ticket deadline.