2022 Grants Challenge

International Women’s Day Dance Festival 2023

Aligned with the annual global International Women’s Day campaign in March, MashUp’s 4-day International Women’s Day Dance Festival hosts performances, free classes, discussions, and other events throughout Los Angeles and online. Providing a rare opportunity for 20-30 women choreographers to present work; facilitating timely dialogue on gender issues; connecting young artists with women leaders; and inspiring broad action towards greater gender equality, the festival celebrates women’s achievements and envisions a more equitable future.


What is the primary issue area that your application will impact?

BIPOC- and Women-Owned Businesses

In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

Central LA

West LA

County of Los Angeles

City of Los Angeles

In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?

Expand existing project, program, or initiative

What is your understanding of the issue that you are seeking to address?

Women artists earn $.77 for every dollar men artists earn (NEA). While women are overrepresented in arts jobs, they are underrepresented in leadership positions (Data Dance Project). In Los Angeles, the largest, most-resourced dance companies are run by men. In the commercial industry, it is still commonplace for a cast of all-women dancers to work on a project entirely run by men. Women choreographers, especially in early/mid career stages, can struggle finding artistic development opportunities and platforms for their work to gain the same visibility as their male counterparts. ​​Cultural Consultant Harpreet Kaur sums up a broader issue: “When there is no democratic choice to express creativity equally for all, this also means that there is no freedom of representation and hence populism becomes politically arranged. If female choreographers are not given an equal chance to present their work this is not just a problem for the contemporary dance sector, but for society as a whole.”

Describe the project, program, or initiative this grant will support to address the issue.

The 2023 International Women’s Day Dance Festival (IWDDF) will occur March 3-5 with a closing event on International Women's Day, March 8th. Day 1 will open with artist gatherings, free classes for professional dancers and the general public, and a dinner with a keynote speaker addressing broader societal issues of gender equity. Days 2 and 3 will continue with a women-owned pop-up marketplace, public workshop, performances showcasing dance works by 15-20 female-identifying/nonbinary choreographers, panel discussions, and a dance industry summit featuring LA-area women artistic directors and administrative leaders. A virtual and in-person dance film screening of projects from 10-15 female-identifying/nonbinary artists will close the event. Held at venues throughout Los Angeles, including MashUp’s home studio in Frogtown, a performance venue in Central LA, and industry summit in West Hollywood, the festival aims to cross geographical boundaries and provide accessible opportunities for anyone to participate. Most events will be free, with discounted or fully scholarshipped tickets available on request, no questions asked, for ticketed performances. A one-of-a-kind LA event celebrating, amplifying, and financially compensating the wealth of creative work coming from LA women artists, IWDDF unites the LA dance community around gender equity, directly addresses gender opportunity and resource gaps, and serves as an action call to accelerate gender equality at large.

Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.

IWDDF is working towards a future where women in LA dance are not objectified, paid less, or have to work twice as hard to earn the creative roles of their male counterparts, have easier access to resources, and where representation at the top reflects the make-up of the industry at large. Funds from LA2050 will allow expansion of the festival’s reach, accessibility, and artist compensation. More women’s voices will be featured, more participants able to engage in free programming led by women artists, and deeper partnerships and dialogue surrounding gender equality will be established throughout LA. Raising the profile, caliber, and capacity of the festival, this grant will accelerate longer-term impact goals. Ultimately, IWDDF wants to see Los Angeles become an international hub for advancing women in the arts, and a world leader in celebrating women's creativity and giving voice to groups historically silenced, building a better, more vibrant, just, and empathetic region.

What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?

2022’s Festival welcomed over 300 artists and participants, approximately 70% of whom work as professional artists in Los Angeles. Of those who choose to identify through registrations for individual events, an average of 57% identified as BIPOC and over 50% said they make under $49k/year. Choreographers featured in past years have used professional documentation received from their work at the festival to book jobs. Dancers have communicated they experienced a welcoming environment that allowed them to network and connect, combatting an often isolating and competitive industry environment. Overall, IWDDF’s impact is assessed by measuring attendee numbers, conducting post-event surveys, through participant and artist interviews, and through an internal post-mortem process. Both quantitative and qualitative data is gathered related to festival goals, in addition to video and photographic documentation that allows for further internal assessment of programming towards growth.

Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?

Direct Impact: 500

Indirect Impact: 2,500