Blog

Powerful Women in the Arts

Blog Introduction by Mary Moynihan

This blog for the Smashing Times International Centre for the Arts and Human Rights is about powerful women in the arts who have inspired us. Powerful women are everywhere – in the arts, in history, in politics, in business – yet so many women’s stories and experiences can often be invisible.

The arts for both male, female and transgender artists already have a limited form of visibility in the media, compared, for example, to politics or sport. Limited coverage of the arts, combined with a narrative of maleness that can determine subconsciously how the world ‘sees’ what is important, creates a double layer of invisibility for women artists.

Women are present, we achieve greatness every day, we are active, engaged, powerful, we take power whenever we can, which is our right, and we are determined. Yet we rarely have 50:50 representation of women’s stories in public domains. For example, stories in history curriculums today remain on average 70% male compared to 30% female. We need to ask what the representation of content about and by women is, compared to men on university courses and in the media, not to mention having equal representation of female presenters on national media or in the arts.

There are plenty of female role models – scratch the surface and they are there, dig a little and you find them. We have to work towards 50:50 equal representation in the arts, in politics, in society, in history, on second and third level curriculums, in the media and so on. It is essential that women’s voices are heard and stories are told on a 50:50 basis, and are not token gestures of less than equal representation.

In recent years Smashing Times are telling women’s stories of 1916 and WWII in our theatre productions on tour and in our creative film work. Here I am writing about powerful women in the arts who have inspired us. There are many to write about. In the theatre we have women such as Viola Spolin, Stella Adler, Uta Hagan and Anne Bogart. I am grateful to have known Deirdre O’Connell of the Focus Theatre, actors Margaret Toomey, Fiona Bawn Thompson and Olwen Fouéré, theatre director Dijana Milošević of DAH Theatre, Serbia, and many, many more great women in theatre. In film and animation we have great artists such as the powerful Lynn Ramsey, Ava du Vernay, Kathryn Bigelow, Kirsten Sheridan, Aisling Walsh, Nora Twomey and Pat Murphy. There are many more in music, dance, literature, visual arts and in all of the artforms.

If you know of a powerful woman in the arts, past or present, write the blog, send it in and we will put it on the webpage.

Mary Moynihan,

Writer, Director, Theatre and Film Artist

Artistic Director, Smashing Times International Centre for the Arts and Human Rights incorporating Smashing Times Theatre and Film Company and Smashing Times Youth Arts Ensemble

All of the Powerful Women in the Arts blogs can be accessed below.

Blog: Viola Spolin