GRRRL FEST (GF) Kirikiriroa is ramping up for its debut weekend-long event to celebrate local creative and diverse talent.
Originally planned for March to lead up to International Women's Day, the multimedia festival had to be postponed due to Covid-19 alert levels. Now GRRRL Fest is set to be held in a "mini version" from Friday, May 14 to 16.
The female and gender-non-binary focused arts festival evolves around four creative cornerstones: visual art, music, performing art and makers market. It will kick off with a Cabaret Variety Show at Biddy's Back Bar and dinner at Craft Bar.
GF communications manager Kat Waswo says the organisers are "extremely blessed" to have such an amazing array of talent booked for the show.
"Getting onto festivals and big-billed shows is so hard when you're 'gender diverse'. Musicians are still competing in a patriarchy-controlled industry, so we wanted to ensure that most of our artist lineup is made of newcomers and underground artists."
A quirky type of entertainment gaining global popularity and a nation-wide reach, curator Lauren Mann (Patty Smack) has managed to secure a phenomenal lineup for the show, including Auckland drag queen legend Vanessa La Roux and Whanganui's transtasman acclaimed comedy-cabaret act Banana Jolie.
Lauren says: "Colour me lucky and stoked to have so many incredible performers on board. We've got the lot: drag queens, pole artists, burlesque performances, singers and entertainers - I don't want to give too much away - but it's gonna be epic!"
Lauren herself is a local hat within the art of dance, working in the entertainment industry as a professional dancer over the past decade in New Zealand, across the seas on international cruise ships and within various locations in Europe, Australia and the Americas.
"After a few years hibernation from the burlesque scene, I'm extremely proud to have a founding role in this festival, which will help to foster pride for our local creative communities and celebrate our female powerhouses," she says.
On Saturday May 15, inspired by the "Riot Grrrl" feminist movement from the early 90s punk-rock scene in the US, the Basement Show at Nivara Lounge will showcase the musical aspect of the festival's core ethos.
Headliner post-punk duo TOOMS are accompanied by Hole tribute band Nothing But Hole and up-and-coming artists Cootie Cuties, Scarlett Lashes, Vikae and Team Squad. The show will also be featuring Iris G who was a stand-out participant of RNZ Music's recently released programme The Collective.
The organisers are also keeping ticket prices accessible and including at least one free event. On Sunday May 16, GF is hosting a Sunday Session at Brewaucracy Brewery and Taproom - which is free or koha entry - and includes six hours of music from seven talented artists.
GRRRL Fest will also be displaying "a bunch of riot-grrrl-style zines" and hand-made accessories at the Hamilton Zinefest tomorrow at The Meteor.
Although the GRRRL Fest weekend hasn't even begun yet, festival director Gwyn Barrie says they are already planning the next events.
"We are aiming to keep a continuous base of events and are organising an all-ages music show in spring."