An Interview with FeMMe Fest, Columbus' Feminist Music Festival

An Interview with FeMMe Fest, Columbus' Feminist Music Festival
This coming weekend there will be two music festivals going on in Columbus, OH.  Back in August, the Fashion Meets Music Festival (FMMF) announced that R. Kelly would be headlining their festival. R. Kelly has been accused and convicted of the rape of young girls and yet still seems to have a successful music career and get booked at festivals like FMMF. A group of activists were understandably upset about the decision to have R. Kelly play at FMMF so they started a rival music festival called FeMMe Fest with a goal of creating a female-friendly music festival with the proceeds going to the Ohio Alliance to End Sexual Violence. After receiving bad publicity, FMMF eventually caved and dropped R. Kelly from the festival but FeMMe Fest went ahead with planning their own inclusive festival to be held over Labor Day. I recently spoke with FeMMe Fest organizer Sarah Moglia via email to learn a little bit more about the background of FeMMe Fest.

FeMMe Fest got started as a result of a protest of the FMMF because they were bringing R. Kelly as a headliner. Can you tell me a little more about how it went from a protest to a competing festival?

As people who really feel at home in the Columbus community, a lot of us were very upset at the decision to bring R. Kelly here, and we knew we weren't alone. We wanted to do something positive in response, instead of just complaining. So we had the idea of forming another music festival to raise awareness about these issues, with all the money going to charity. So we just kind of ran with it, and here we are now.

After the protests from your group, FMMF did drop R. Kelly from their lineup. That must have been a huge win for you.  Why did you decide to still go ahead with FeMMe Fest despite the fact that FMMF already dropped R. Kelly?
I don't want to be so bold as to say FeMMeFest was the only reason they dropped R. Kelly, because there was a huge outcry even before we started FeMMeFest. I'm glad they listened to the community about this. However, R. Kelly not being at this festival doesn't solve the crisis of sexual assault. Rape and sexual assault are still huge issues that millions of people (primarily women) face. R. Kelly was the catalyst for this event, but honestly, the issue is so much bigger than just one person.

What has the community response in Columbus been to FeMMe Fest?
We have had an overwhelmingly positive response. The great thing about FeMMeFest is this is all grassroots. We aren't a corporation, we don't have huge amounts of money to spend...we're just part of the Columbus community, and we wanted to do something positive. And we're very happy the Columbus community wants to support FeMMeFest. I think it really speaks to the character of our city.

What do you hope to accomplish with FeMMe Fest?
We mainly want to start a dialogue about sexual assault and rape, as well as raise money for the Ohio Alliance to End Sexual Violence. If we can do both of those things, then we'll consider FeMMeFest a huge success.

Can you tell me about one band you are particularly looking forward to at FeMMe Fest?
Oh man, that's so hard! I'm really looking forward to Damn the Witch Siren! and Saintseneca. I think it's really cool that they both dropped out of the Fashion Meets Music Festival (which would have been huge for the visibility) in order to stand up for their principals and are now playing for FeMMeFest. Plus, they both have really distinct sounds.

How can people find out more about attending FeMMe Fest?
Our Facebook page and website have all the up-to-date information! We've got the schedule up, and every show that requires a ticket has the price listed (tickets can be bought at the door).

Thank you so much for speaking with me about FeMMe Fest, Sarah! For anyone in Chicago, if you're looking for a last-minute adventure for your holiday weekend, head on down to Columbus for an inclusive and female-friendly music festival with a packed schedule showing off some of the great talent in Columbus and raising money for a worthy cause.

Filed under: Festivals, Music News

Tags: feminism, femme fest

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