Women in Music
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  Chard Festival of Women In Music 

emerged in 1990 as the Country's pioneering showcase of music hardly known to audiences; music excluded from our culture and concert programmes:music written and created by women.

Chard's biennial Festival, advocacy and education work challenges the status quo, brings new music to wide audiences and provides incentives for young women to participate in a field previously denied them. The Festival was inspired by an encyclopedia listing over 6000 international women composers and their absence in concert programmes.

Chard Festival is now only one of many activities organised by the newly formed Chard Foundation of Women in Music all making a long term difference to music and help it break through old social and cultural barriers.

Background to Chard Festival of Women In Music

One of “Top Ten” music events in Europe  The Daily Telegraph May 2000
One of dozen National events “worth leaving home for” The Guardian 2002

Chard Festival is Britain's premier Women In Music Festival currently running biennially as a six day event in May. Currently we are working towards the next Festival in May 2003.On alternate years Chard Foundation offers HOTBED a creative symposium for composers and songwriters. 

The Festival specialises in music that has been written by women, across the musical spectrum. Participation by male, as well as female, musicians, performers, organisers and audience is encouraged. It is a fact that owing to the origin and rural setting of the Chard Festival its music is enjoyed by an unusually wide cross section of people and it has been more difficult for the local population to marginalise an Event in an area not as well served with music as the larger towns and cities of Britain. 

The music presented by the Festival is always of high quality and it is offered to the widest possible audience. Over the last twelve years the Chard Festival has initiated many ideas and been the radical spark for challenging prejudice and opening doors for people to participate in music.

The Festival has commissioned 13 new works (with assistance from SWA), performed 30 world premiers and over 200 other works, many receiving their 2nd, or UK premier, performance. The Festival has highlighted the contribution made by women in all genres of music from around the world and has hosted international debates, talks & workshops.While we feel well justified in working to break through barriers that prevent women participating fully in music, we have found that in breaking moulds and challenging stereotypes we open doors for a whole range of men and women who, for various reasons do experience prejudice. Our audiences are diverse and the music we offer is wide ranging; men and women may come for a folk concert and then stay for classical, jazz, world music and a voice workshop - that is what makes Chard special.

"..a-capella rubbed shoulders with contemporary music, jazz co- 
existed with early music and reggae with classical. The imposing facade of the Guildhall welcomed in all worlds without discrimination.
Chard......pushed at people's musical boundaries. The highly eclectic span also made a point, and the work dispelled the fear that targeting destroys quality. The focus means that the Festival can function as a professional showcase, helping to take womens composition into the mainstream."
Naseem Khan for The Independent 28.5.96

Success Story

In its first season the Chard Festival 1990 set itself high ideals; co-founding what is now the European Women's Orchestra, commissioning music, premiering the launch of the Crissy Lee Big Band inspired by Ivy Benson, programming rare performances and attracting a film documentary on the Festival shown twice on HTV.


 The Festival has repeatedly achieved ambitious objectives reaching beyond the annual events. It plays a significant advocacy role for women in music nationally, running major lottery funded projects and maintaining an education and community programme. In 2000 Chard Festival’s education work extended into Europe with funding from the European Commission and the Festivals international links are growing and include new project work with women in music in Zimbabwe.


From its conception in 1988 the Festival was organised and run by a small group of committed, unpaid volunteers.
1993 - funds awarded for a grand piano from the Sports and Arts Foundation.
1995 -  revenue funding from South West Arts, Somerset County Council and South Somerset District Council made possible the appointment of its founder as a more permanent part-time Artistic Director to achieve continuity and more ambitious goals. 
1997 - major Arts for Everyone Lottery grant to run a range of projects.The biennial  1999 - EC CONNECT grant to build European internet archive and hold concerts in four countries.
2000 – National Foundation for Youth Music award to run Girls Rock On!
Festivals themselves have always been supported by the Arts Council of England, South West Arts, local authorities, PRS, Musicians Union, trusts, arts bodies, private companies and individuals. 
2002 – Chard Foundation of Women in Music established.
AW 12/12/02

Chard Foundation of Women in Music
3 Howards Row, Chard
Somerset TA20 1PH 
Tel :00 44 1460 66115
Fax : 00 44 1460 66048 

Email :
www.chardfestival. org.uk

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