Monday, November 25, 2013



Gender on the agenda

recent article on the blog God Loves Women, pointed out the percentages of women speakers at Christian events in the UK.
Here are a few thoughts we’d like to contribute to the conversation …
Last summer we enjoyed headline talks from some brilliant speakers including Barbara Brown Taylor, Bidisha, Bobby Baker, Vicky Beeching, Rose Hudson Wilkin, Mary Grey, Clare Balding… and 38 other women.
But it’s true, we didn’t hit 50/50. We intend to get closer – that’s our direction of travel – but we also want to host more women in our theatre programme, our literary programme, our music programme. Greenbelt isn’t a conference, it’s a festival. We’re attempting to build a rich, multi-genre arts and ideas programme which speaks of and to diversity and a globalised society where many views, cultures and religious beliefs are in play.
So, a few of the other voices platformed at our festival this last year included poet-musician-priest Rachel Mann, Brazilian theologian Paolo Ueti, writer Melissa Benn, Muslim cultural commentator Mohammed Ansar, Palestinian campaigner and spoken work artist Rafeef Ziadah, protest singer-songwriter Grace Petrie, comedian Helen Arney, and new-folk star Thea Gilmore – to name but a few.
But we’re not just thinking about what and who we platform. It’s interesting that we read the God Loves Women blog – highlighting how our talks programme at Greenbelt didn’t achieve gender parity (equal numbers of talks by women and men) – while the Greenbelt trustees were meeting. More than half of them are women and our CEO, Beccie D’Cuhna, had taken a day out of her maternity leave to be with them at their meeting. Her leadership is about building an organisation that is vibrant and diverse and which engages justly, creatively and generously with the world where we live.
We’re trying to foster an ecology at Greenbelt where a multiplicity of voices informs our journey in the hope that these voices will, in turn, help to shape the balance, richness and diversity of the content we host. We are a work in progress. And this conversation is a good one for us take part in…