March is Women’s History Month and if Susan B. Anthony, Betsy Ross and Amelia Earharts’ stories haven’t been exhausted yet, they probably will be by the end of the month. How many times can we learn about Amelia Earhart before realizing her “amazing story” reinforces the stereotype that women are bad drivers? They are important stories to tell, but other women and their struggles are often underemphasized.
The Utah Symphony and Opera, along with several museums, galleries and other performing art groups, have collaborated the Women’s Voices Festival. The events and lectures, going on now through March 20, are meant to show the history of women in the humanities and where they are at today.
“Women, for many centuries, even though they constitute more than half of the population, are a minority group in many ways,” said Paula Fowler, director of education and community outreach for the Utah Opera. “We find the barriers [for women] in the past and if they face them still. We want to make sure that they’re not in a minority position anymore.”
The Women’s Voices Festival is part of a community outreach program the Utah Symphony and Opera have held since 2003. Each season, both organizations highlight a certain theme and organize events in other artistic and educational venues in the community. This year the festival highlights performances like the opera Little Women, based on the Louissa May Alcott Novel. Clara Schuuman’s Piano Concerto will be performed by the Utah Symphony.
In addition to the performances, the Utah Museum of Fine Arts and other local galleries are giving special attention to women in visual arts.
The lecture portion of the festival focuses more on the history of women in different categories in the humanities. The experiences and challenges women face are different for each one, Fowler said. Women like George Eliot were able to achieve some success in literature, either through their social status or through pen names. While much of the progress for women in the humanities is at least noticeable, in some areas women still struggle to find a success.
“In modern dance, women’s place in that field is very solid,” Fowler said. “Music hard for women. Composers and conductors, especially. It’s not usual yet for women to be at the podium.”
Many of the events are free and open to the public.
For more information about the events, call the Utah Opera at 801-533-5626. Visit USOE.org for a list of all events and their locations.