Kathy Valentine, accomplished musician, writer, original member of iconic female band the Go-Go’s, and current member of The Bluebonnets, is spearheading She Factory, a series of programs that showcase Austin’s female creative pool.
She Factory brings these events, beginning with “The Song Pool,” an evening of songs and discussion about music, to the people in Austin for a voluntary contribution to SAFE Alliance. While Valentine wants people to be able to attend within their budgets, she does require this contribution as attendees’ way of participating. The tagline for She Factory is self-explanatory: “Assembling the Talent of Women in the Arts.”
In a nutshell, these programs highlighting Austin women in the creative arts are sponsored by local women, in order to remove the burden from the community. She Factory events are free to the public, compliments of Austin women in business. While music makes perfect sense as a starting point for these programs, with lifelong musician Valentine at the helm, future events will involve women from other creative arenas.
She Factory’s Maiden Voyage
She Factory launches with The Song Pool, a “freestyle” musical event on Sept. 19 at The Townsend. Sharing the stage for a night of music and talk are Austin’s own Nina Diaz, Carolyn Wonderland, Jane Ellen Bryant, Suzanna Choffel, Patricia Vonne, and Ruthie Foster.
The event is free and open to the public, but a voluntary donation is requested to benefit SAFE Alliance. SAFE Alliance is the now combined services of Austin Children’s Shelter and SafePlace. Their mission is to help end sexual assault, exploitation, child abuse, and domestic violence through prevention, intervention, and advocacy for change.
One aspect of the evening that excites Valentine is introducing these artists’ fans to new powerhouse women in the Austin music scene. “Someone who loves Ruthie Foster may have never seen Nina Diaz or Suzanna Choffel,” explains Valentine. This cross-exposure to various talented women who call our fair city home makes the event extra special.
“At this She Factory event, The Song Pool brings together a variety of women songwriter/performers in an interactive, casual environment to play some of their songs and discuss with both the audience, and the other performers, the art of songwriting. She may discuss the specific song, what inspired it, or how songwriting in general impacts, narrates or expresses aspects of her life.” -Kathy Valentine
Women Lifting Up Women
Austin is a renowned breeding ground for inventive endeavors, and Valentine’s vision holds endless potential to inspire and edify. While Austin’s creative scene seems self-sustaining to a degree, its vibrancy and supportive nature depend on bringing the right elements together. A large part of the puzzle is finding the means to financially support creatives in the city. She Factory taps into Austin’s vast wealth of female talent, backed by entrepreneurial women.
Sponsorship of She Factory is affordable. Austin women pay a nominal fee to help underwrite the event, or offer a necessary service to the artists. Other local female-run businesses have donated goodies for artist swag bags or the evening’s raffle.
Most importantly, sponsors enable Valentine to pay her performers and allow the community to attend, no matter their personal entertainment budget. That way, Valentine notes, “everybody has a good feeling.”
Janifer Wheeler, president of Texas Business Women – Capital City Chapter, owner of Wheelhouse Learning Solutions, and founding member of Black Fret, is helping to coordinate sponsorship. Wheeler shared, “Providing opportunities for local, female-owned businesses to support local, female musicians just makes sense, considering all of us operate in a space of entrepreneurial creativity.” Her excitement echoes Valentine’s own enthusiasm for the series.
The list of supporting businesses continues to grow, because who wouldn’t want to be a part of this?
Future events will include Austin women from assorted artistic fields. Musicians, though, will continue to be an integral part of the grand plan. This facet is particularly important to Valentine, who explains that we still don’t see all-female bands maintaining “decades-long, hyper-productive careers.” She hopes to see the landscape change, and She Factory is one of her numerous contributions to that end.
Never one to rest on her laurels, Valentine remains involved in a dizzying number of creative efforts. Her band, The Bluebonnets, just released an album, “Tonewrecker.” She maintains a solo career, as well, playing around town and recording a series of singles, sales of which will benefit a local charity which has yet to be announced. Her memoir and its accompanying soundtrack are slated to be published by UT Press in the foreseeable future. And if all that isn’t enough, she has a supporting role in an independent film, “The Transcendents,” and is dipping her toe into the world of fashion design, working with local brand, Consuela.
Keep Your Eye on She Factory
It’s evident that the initial She Factory event will be an intriguing night for the audience, as well as the performers. With the outstanding work ethic and boundless drive of its founder, the platform will no doubt shine a light on Austin’s best and brightest women, who are working to not only make lasting careers for themselves, but also make a positive, profound impact on our community as a whole. I’m no betting person, but I’d lay odds on She Factory’s success.
@theAustinot wants to know:
Who is your favorite Austin woman in music or the arts?
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