Since 2014, MOTHERSHIP Women’s Festival & Retreat has become a special and sacred place for women to convene in Coachella Valley, CA. The three-day overnight event, which will take place from October 13-15, is billed as “one-of-a-kind camping experience is designed to bring together art, music, culture, education, philanthropy, and feminism.” It offers events by day such as tattoos, sexual health workshops, tarot, self-defense, songwriting, yoga and more.
This year, MOTHERSHIP has partnered with the Tegan and Sara Foundation, a non-profit that helps women and girls of all ages. A portion of festival’s proceeds will be donated to the organization. In addition to special appearances by Tegan and Sara, a number of other artists and talents will include Farrow, Madame Ghandhi, WASI, LP Giobbi, Dirty Rich Kidd, Lea Beiley, Halle Johnson, Little Indian, Madison Paige, Bounce House, Goodboy and more.
Recently, tHeARTofla caught up the MOTHERSHIP creator and director Laura Wise to get an in-depth look putting the event together. Wise also spoke at length about feminism and activism and how it intimately connects to MOTHERSHIP. Wise also gave her insights as to why she feels this event creates a welcoming space for all female voices to be heard, effectively combating sexism in a positive and empowering way.
How have the MOTHERSHIP FEST been evolving and growing since its inception in 2014?
MOTHERSHIP started as a small feminist fest in Los Angeles. I started it because I felt like there was a gap in feminist events. We needed a way to get people excited about activism and feminism again. The people who were showing up to feminist panels were already interested in the movement. I wanted to find an enticing way to bring L.A. women into the feminist movement. Because I knew when they arrived, I knew they would be here to stay.
Our event now is much larger. It’s a destination festival in Coachella, California. We anticipate anywhere from 600-800 women attending the festival this year. We have brought in lots of unique and talented women to speak, perform and sprinkle in their magic onto the event.
How did you go about creating the topics for the workshops and panels? Would you say the current political climate has influenced certain workshops and panels more than before?
I always want MOTHERSHIP to have plenty of fun events and entertainment, but I always wanted to include more workshops and panels with a little more meat. I think we will talk more about direct actions we can take this year. We’ve involved with some smart lawyers to get into the legalities of activism and the ways to defend yourself against political injustice.
Could you discuss the topics of them more in detail?
We have so many workshops and panels this year! We have workshops on poetry, progressive relaxation, solo travel, self-defense and much more! We also have special workshops on a variety of topics from women’s sexuality in the media to an intimate discussion with Tegan and Sara!
Who will be the guest speakers on the panels?
So many strong women will speak, from different spheres as well in art, business, design, music, etc. Tegan and Sara will be speaking to how women can empower themselves in the music world. We are welcoming the editor-in-chief at NYLON.com, Gabrielle Korn, renowned artists Tasya Van Ree, TV Personality Whitney Mixter, trans activist Eli Erlick and designer/author Nicolette Mason to name a few.
Can you talk about the artists performing at this year’s FEST?
WASI is a pop-punk duo from LA. We love them and they have grown with us every year of the fest. Little Indian is an amazing producer and DJ. Madame Gandhi wrote “The Future is Female” and will be headlining.
How did you decide to choose those artists?
Music festivals overall have a huge sexism problem. Not only do many women at festivals report sexual assault and rape, but also over half of the music festival attendees are women and that’s not reflected on stage. At MOTHERSHIP, I want to combat that by putting all women on stage and creating spaces for these amazing female performers and voices to be heard.
How did Tegan and Sara get onboard this year and tie in their inclusive organization to women of all ages?
Tegan and Sara will be onsite at the event to partially benefit their new organization that benefits the justice and empowerment of LGBT Women and Girls. Our event is 21+ but we always work with a non-profit that benefits women directly. To me, the Tegan and Sara Foundation was a no-brainer because they are going to do great things.
Can you discuss the drum circle and mediation more? How has it brought all the women together that participate in the FEST?
We have a yoga tent that is created to unwind and relax in. All of our spiritual and wellness events that take place there are typically in the morning to ease into the day. In the afternoon, we move into more active events like self-defense classes and musical jam sessions.
What has the feedback and response been like from the attendees?
Last year, the biggest complaint was people wanted it to be longer. We aren’t ready to add another day just yet, but we did extend out hours this year. We also changed locations and it will be on a beautiful lake this year.
Can you talk about the attendees and are they coming from all over the U.S.?
Last year, we have attendees from Australia and Europe as well as almost all 50 states. Most attendees are from California as it is more accessible for them, but we are seeing a huge variety of participants. I think partially because we have an active Instagram community of feminists from around the world.