Liverpool to ‘RISE’ to the occasion celebrating extraordinary women

To mark International Women’s Day, Liverpool is announcing a season of events which celebrate inspirational women.

In the year which sees the city host the Netball World Cup, the RISE programme will pay homage to extraordinary women from Liverpool and from around the world with the aim to inspire, educate and empower others – regardless of their age or gender.

It features a series of brand new artistic commissions, world-firsts, exhibitions and performances by leading female artists, thinkers and leaders, with the majority of activities being free to attend.


Sudarios, Liverpool Cathedral, 8-28 March, FREE
A moving showcase by renowned Colombian artist Erika Diettes, the exhibition features 20 large-scale, black and white shrouds, emblazoned with photographs of women who have been forced to witness the murder of, or violence towards, their loved ones. Diettes’ work shines a spotlight on the survivors, and acknowledges not only their suffering, but their continued faith in humanity. A collective of local artists called Mother’s Day Project will work with a group of refugee women and Erika Diettes on a response performance to Sudarios which will take place later this year.

The Female Gaze: Women Depicting Women, 8 March- 4 May, Dot-art Castle Street, FREE
This new exhibition showcases the work of three women artists, Liz Jeary, Mia Cathcart and Rebecca Atherton. Each artist depicts women in their work, capturing and exploring identity and the complex representations of women in art through diverse art forms.

Ericka Beckman and Marianna Simnett, 29 March-16 June, FACT, FREE
Bringing together the work of two filmmakers which spans more than 40 years, technology is used to subvert classic elements of fairy tale storytelling, and their works stand as a refusal to yield to patriarchal societies which exist to control, conform and conquer.

Kinship, Open Eye Gallery, 29 April-30 June, FREE
Kinship looks at how women are using photography to reflect upon their sense of kin. The projects collected together seek to uncover the ways people build close relationships amongst each other that feel like family. The exhibition features Pixy Liao, Momo Okabe, Margaret Mitchell, Lydia Goldblatt, Jenny Lewis, and Johanna Heldebro

Shanghai Sacred, Victoria Gallery (University of Liverpool), 1 May – 1 September, FREE
Award-winning photographer and anthropologist Liz Hingley explores religious rituals and their social contexts in Shanghai – a city she spent three years exploring and analysing its spiritual landscape. The work will be displayed using a Chinese freestanding bamboo structure made by artist Chen Hangfeng.

Previous work by Jola Kudela

Yolart, Pier Head, 31 May to 28 June, FREE
In a brand new commission for both RISE and River Festival Liverpool, the Pier Head will become a canvas for in-demand artist Jola Kudela. Her speciality is working in public spaces and engaging with communities to recreate scenes from classic paintings, giving it a 21st century twist. Jola uses contemporary models to feature in her art, and creates huge collages which are then pasted on to unusual backdrops, often on to derelict abandoned buildings, so the composition itself becomes part of the urban landscape.

First Women Exhibition, St George’s Hall, 18 June – 27 August, FREE
This exhibition comprises of a unique collection of 100 portraits capturing women in the UK who were “first” in their field of achievement. Taken by internationally acclaimed photographer Anita Corbin, they aim to provide inspiration and insight for a new generation of women seeking an understanding of their own roles in a rapidly changing world in which equality is still an issue.

A Portrait Of…, Open Eye Gallery, 15 July – 30 September, FREE
This work looks at how we see each other through photography, something that most of us use to communicate every day. The projects on show share new perspectives on youth, disability and age.

April Ashley Archive, Liverpool Central Library, 28 July – 28 August, FREE
Liverpool City Council has been given exclusive permission to exhibit a small selection from the archive of April Ashley MBE, the trans-pioneer, model and actress. It will include artefacts recording April’s time from Pitt Street to the glamour of the Carousel Club in Paris and appearances in Vogue magazine. There will also be letters and photographs of the Liverpool woman and icon who helped change the legal and social representation of gender.


How to be a…

How to be a Songwriter, LIPA, Tuesday 12 March, all places already allocated
The powerhouse behind tracks on Beyoncé’s critically revered Lemonade as well as other global hits by Britney Spears and Craig David – Carla Marie Williams – will be giving an intimate masterclass aimed at aspiring young females. The session will see Carla give advice on how women can break into the male-dominated music industry.

How to be a Spy, St George’s Hall, Tuesday 18 June, ticketed
Dame Stella Rimington – the first female Director General of MI5 – will talk about her various roles in the security service. After leaving MI5, Dame Stella has become a celebrated author, with her ‘insider knowledge’ making her spy novels a must-read. Tickets will be on sale in the coming weeks.



How to be a Sports Journalist and Broadcaster, July, Liverpool ONE, FREE
Presenter, writer and broadcaster Clare Balding will take part in a special Q&A talking about her award-winning career, its highlights and any advice she would give to both men and women who are looking to follow in her footsteps.





SisBis Presents International Women’s Day, Kitchen Street, 6pm-4am Friday 8 March, £5 after 10pm
All-women music collective SisBis mark International Women’s Day and their RISE involvement with a free arts, music and crafts event from 6-10pm, with drop-in workshops throughout the evening. This will be followed by a live performance from the Refugee Women Connect choir. After this there will be DJ sets from Manara, a BBC Asian Network Resident and Giovanna, who is part of SisBis, an NTS resident, and one of Liverpool’s fastest rising stars. All proceeds go to Refugee Women Connect.

Bangin’ Pans Project, Liverpool Central Library, 2-3pm, Saturday 9 March, FREE
This music project supports and encourages girls and young women living in Liverpool to get involved in all aspects of the music industry – as musicians, technicians, photographers, film makers, designers, bloggers and event designers. The group has been working together for the past few months and this will be their first public performance. Watch out for more to come including Saturday March 30 at Threshold and as part of BBC Music Week in June.

Discwoman, Kitchen Street, Friday 29 March, tickets from £8.50
Discwoman is a leading global music collective and New York-based booking agency which exclusively represents women and LGBTQ+ artists. This special club night will cover the electro, house, jungle and techno genres and will feature Volvox, Ciel and Juana who are forces to be reckoned with on the DJ scene.



Children’s Festival of Reading, June and July, venues across Liverpool
A celebration of books for children and young people will see a mixture of schools events, community and family workshops and author readings. As part of RISE, the festival will feature amazing female authors such as Lorraine Gregory and Gabrielle Kent. The event has been organised by the Liverpool Learning Partnership.

Disco Classical with Special Guest Sister Sledge featuring Kathy Sledge at Liverpool International Music Festival, Sefton Park, Sunday 21 July
The first act to be announced for LIMF 2019 is the unmissable live experience: Disco Classical featuring Sister Sledge with Kathy Sledge. The show will feature a 35-piece orchestra and a carefully curated selection of much-loved disco hits as part of an explosive performance featuring a host of collaborators.

Scalarama, September, details TBC
This month of film screenings will aim for 58% of the films it shows being either made by women or about women.


RISE Response

Ten female Liverpool writers will take up residence and write in response to Rise festival as it unfolds throughout 2019.  Their poems, songs, stories and plays-in-miniature will pop up throughout the festival year, in film, print, online and in performance.  The writers include Lizzie Nunnery (Winner of Best New Play at UK Theatre awards 2017), acclaimed poets Helen Tookey (Best British Poetry 2014, Salt) and Jennifer Lee Tsai (Ten: Poets of the New Generation, Bloodaxe 2017), playwright Lindsay Rodden (The Story Giant), Yemeni-Scouse performance poet Amina Atiq (BBC6 Music Festival), short story writer Stephanie Jane Gray (Writing on the Wall) and acclaimed novelist and playwright Deborah Morgan (Disappearing Home).

More announcements will be made over the coming months which will include details of the Netball World Cup opening ceremony, Feminist Book Fortnight, a very special ‘How to be a…’ session which will be out of this world and two brand new public art commissions.

Tickets and latest information for all events can be found by visiting, following @Rise_Liverpool on Twitter and Instagram and using #RISEwithUS.

Any artist, cultural organisation or group across the city staging events or activities this year which celebrate women are encouraged to head to and fill in the online form and the event could be promoted on the website as part of the RISE season.

Although RISE officially launches today, a number of preview events have taken place, including the ambitious free, 209 Women exhibition – an all-female exhibit at Open Eye Gallery which features new portraits of women MPs from across the country, shot entirely by women photographers. It runs until Sunday 14 April.

RISE has been curated by Liverpool City Council and funded by Arts Council England. Other partners include University of Liverpool, The Women’s Organisation, Blackburne House, Northern Power Women, Merseyside Women of the Year, The Girls Network and the Mayoral Club.


Deputy Mayor and Cabinet Member for culture, tourism and events, Councillor Wendy Simon, said: “RISE is a programme curated by women, inspired by women and produced by women, so it’s more than fitting that it is launched on International Women’s Day.

“It’s a strong, diverse programme with some impressive world-firsts, thought-provoking exhibitions as well as the opportunity to have a fascinating insight into the lives of women who have made their mark on their chosen field.

“With more events still to be announced, it’s going to be a real celebration of women with the aim of inspiring future generations and encouraging them to aim high and never put a limit to what they are capable of achieving.”

 Councillor Liz Parsons, Cabinet Member for Communities with a city responsibility for International Women’s Day, said: International Women’s Day is an important annual event which helps us mark the progress made in advancing women’s rights.

“We are committed to empowering women and encouraging them to continue to strive for change, and as a city which embraces culture, it feels right to mark this year’s event by shining a light on some of the incredible female creative talent around.”

Clare Balding said: “I’m delighted and excited to be part of Liverpool’s RISE programme and look forward to sharing my experiences, and encourage and motivate more young women to think about a career in sport.

“With Liverpool hosting the Netball World Cup, it’s the perfect opportunity to see brilliantly passionate teams of women at the top of their game, and we can use this to kick-start a conversation about what can be achieved by women from every sector of society, and every part of the country.”

Jola Kudela who will produce the Yolart artwork on the Pier Head, said: “I’m very excited to be part of RISE and it’s an incredible opportunity for me as a female visual artist. Through my art I try to establish a dialogue with urban environment and engage my audience by providing a social commentary. I look forward to being involved in Liverpool’s creative life and I’m sure that together we’ll produce something meaningful and inspiring.”

Alison Clark, the Arts Council’s Director of Combined Arts and Director North said: “We’re very pleased to support this varied and exciting programme that shines a light on creative and enterprising women in the cultural sector and beyond. Female artists have often been overlooked or hidden and it’s wonderful to see in Liverpool the powerful contributions of women who can speak to the whole of society. It’s also great to see so many organisations coming together to showcase the work of both local and international artists across the city. I look forward to experiencing the programme across the year.”

Liverpool Waterfront