February 3, 2019

Women in arts and culture severely underrepresented

Only 13% of the exhibited works in Dutch museums were made by women, research commissioned by Mama Cash shows. In other disciplines, too, the position of women in Dutch arts and culture is not optimal. This is why the Mama Cash Feminist Festival on 8 March, International Women's Day, offers a platform for the work of feminist artists and activists.

Mama Cash did a meta-analysis of existing research on the position of female artists in Dutch music, visual arts, literature and performing arts. In order to obtain comparable figures, Mama Cash supplemented this data with their own counts. The gender ratio has been measured across many disciplines in recent years, but underrepresentation based on other characteristics such as race/ethnicity has been investigated much less. Nancy Jouwe, cultural historian and board member of Mama Cash, had the following to say to newspaper de Volkskrant on the importance of tallying: "Then you know what you're dealing with. It’s too often said: we look at quality. But that wouldn’t lead to such unbalanced figures."

At the Netherlands’ biggest pop festivals the count is especially low: only 3% of the headliners are women. In the Dutch literary canon only 16% of the work is by a woman and 17% of the choreographers in dance companies is a woman. Fortunately, the latest figures from galleries and publishers give reason for cautious optimism.

When the work of female artists don’t get a podium, we miss out on a lot of beautiful and meaningful work. After all, art is not frivolity. And creativity is not a luxury. Far too often, creative expression is only the only way that women, girls, trans and intersex people can resist the silence that is often imposed on them. For example, Rede NAMI, a Brazilian group of activists who received support from Mama Cash, uses graffiti to bring violence against women to the attention of a broad public.

That is why Mama Cash is organising the fourth edition of the Mama Cash Feminist on March 8th. On International Women's Day they shine a spotlight on the work of feminist artists and activists such as Raquel van Haver (winner of the Royal Prize for Free Painting), Panmela Castro (Brazilian activist and graffiti artist), Clarice Gargard (UN Women's Representative) and many others.

The Mama Cash Feminist Festival consists of events on March 8th at the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, WORM (Rotterdam), the Harmoniegebouw (Groningen) and Centraal Museum Utrecht. For more information click here.

More about the research

To see the full report, click here.

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