Oakulture

Documenting the Oakland cultural renaissance


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Women Runnin It: Interview with Nina Menendez

This month Oakulture premieres “Women Runnin It,” a new interview series featuring women in dynamic positions of cultural leadership. We begin with Oakland female producers and promoters. Usually behind the scenes, these women are the ones bringing your favorite concerts, shows and nights for you to soak in and live the culture of Oakland.  How do they build community and social arts networks? How do they curate a meaningful event or a club party?

Recently at a Bahamadia concert at Leo’s produced by Chaney Turner of Social Life Productions, the emcee spoke to the need to be actively engaged in creating inclusive community — a crucial component of a culturally-positive nightlife and cultural arts scene. Important to many of us, particularly women and LGBTQi persons, is the ability to go out at night, share our art, enjoy dancing or conversation and not have to defend our bodies and presence. The promoters who are committed to holding this ground for us and advancing it are bringing female artists, gender fluid and non-ratchet parties, and holding down inclusive, ‘safe’ spaces through curating social arts. They are cultural stewards that we at Oakulture value and support. We think you should too. Check out previous women highlighted in the series, including Candi Martinez and Chaney Turner.

***

The third installment in the “Women Runnin It” series features Nina Menendez, the Founder & Artistic Director of the Bay Area Flamenco Festival (BAFF). Flamenco is the creative expression of a culturally resilient people; an improvisational and exquisitely aged art form of Gitano or Gypsy singing, fierce footwork and dancing, percussive clapping, snapping, body percussion and guitar.

The Bay Area is currently one of the best places in the world for flamenco outside of Spain. A major reason for that is the entrenchment of authentic flamenco dancers and musicians in the region, dating back decades, who have inspired generations of local artists, many of whom have gone on to acclaim in the flamenco world. As both a grassroots arts organizer and world class producer of concerts and workshops, Nina has contributed her lioness’ share to the curation of these bridges of cultural exchange.

Nina boasts a rich cultural background herself: she comes from a musical family of both Cuban and Spanish extraction. Her mother is folk singer Barbara Dane and she is a singer herself, as well as being a former professor of Latin American and women’s studies. She brings her deep knowledge and respect for cultural legacy, resistance and pride to all of her programming and productions, making her a valued resource for the flamenco community. Nina’s commitment contributes to maintaining and building on the cultural legacy of flamenco. This year, she celebrates a major milestone: ten years of producing the Bay Area Flamenco Festival, which begins this week.

Nina Menendez, Founder and Artistic Director of the Bay Area Flamenco Festival

Nina Menendez, Founder and Artistic Director of the Bay Area Flamenco Festival

Oakulture: Tell us about the Bay Area Flamenco Festival shows this year and your inspiration for producing them.

Nina Menendez: It has been and continues to be a true privilege and honor to work with such extraordinary artists over the past 10 years. We’ve presented some of the most important figures in the history of flamenco – from Manuel Agujetas to Manuela Carrasco and Angelita Vargas – as well as prodigies from today’s scene – Diego del Morao, el Carpeta, el Farru – and we’ve also presented groups like Son de la Frontera or artists like Diego el Cigala who are known outside of the flamenco world as well.

The centerpiece of this year’s festival is “Generations of Gypsy Flamenco” which I am presenting here in San Francisco on Sunday, March 22. The idea is to bring together dancers from three different generations, three different pueblos and three different approaches to Gypsy flamenco dance.

Concha Vargas, Pepe Torres and Gema Moneo are dancers who I know well and have worked with on numerous occasions. All three are internationally respected dancers who are at the same time deeply rooted in the grassroots traditions of their local communities. They are each key exponents of their respective generations and are among the finest and most “flamenco” of the flamenco dancers active in Spain today. Together they illustrate the passing down of flamenco dance traditions as an expression of cultural identity and oral history. Their artistry illustrates the continuity of the traditional forms as well as their ongoing reinvention.

Nina Menendez at Oakland Flamenco sessions

Nina Menendez at Oakland Flamenco Sessions

They will be joined by a group of musicians who I hand picked for this production because of their compatibility with all three of the dancers. This will be the first time guitarist El Perla and singer Jose Valencia come to perform at the Festival and we are very excited to host them and to welcome back guitarist/singer José Gálvez and singer Luis Moneo. It will be an unforgettable evening. We are also thrilled that Latin-Grammy nominated cantaora, Esperanza Fernández and the outstanding cantaor, José Valencia with be performing at the Brava theater in the Mission on Friday, March 27th. This will be a concert emphasizing flamenco cante and a rare chance to experience two of the finest flamenco singers of today’s generation, both representing deep family legacies and rooted in a rich legacy of Gypsy flamenco singing.

And finally, in celebration of International Women’s month, we close the Festival in Santa Cruz on Sunday, March 29th with ¡Flamencas! where dancers Concha Vargas and Gema Moneo and singer Esperanza Fernández will come together will blend their intense female energy and telluric chemistry to present an evening of flamenco puro, reminiscent of what you might witness at a Gypsy family gathering in a pueblo in Andalucia.

Video footage of dancer Gema Moneo, one of this year’s BAFF performing artists with El Momo at the Festival de Jerez in memory of Barullito Moneo.

Menendez with flamenco dancer Farruquito

Menendez with flamenco dancer Farruquito

Oakulture: What values do you bring to your work as a producer and how do they impact your decision-making?

Nina Menendez: Certainly values of social justice have a fundamental impact on my work. These values inform my curatorial vision and the decision I make as regards programming. They also have a lot to do with the community partners I seek out for collaborative work and mutual support. I believe that the arts should be a part of everyday life for all human beings and all communities. Increasingly culture is seen as corporately produced goods meant to be purchased and consumed rather than a shared community activity that expresses individual creativity and a common cultural legacy; a part of everyday life that is key to a community’s survival and growth. Much of our programming features Gypsy artists from Spain who share their expressions of cultural resistance and pride through music and dance with Bay Area audiences. These events help to increase awareness of the culture, traditions and history of the Gypsy/Romani people and illustrate the role of the arts in the everyday life. The culture of flamenco is rooted in the legacy of Spain’s Gypsy population, a marginalized subculture with a strong history of resistance to oppression and cultural co-optation. By creating cultural exchange opportunities through performances and workshops by visiting artists from Spain’s Gypsy community, we foster increased understanding and respect among people of diverse backgrounds. Our programming emphasizes how music and dance traditions can serve as a vessel for the transmission of cultural identity and oral history through the generations.

 Nina Menendez on NBC Bay Area's "Comunidad del Valle"

Nina Menendez on NBC Bay Area’s “Comunidad del Valle”

Oakulture: What relationship is there between your artistic work and your work as producer and director?

Nina Menendez: I put a lot of thought and intention behind it. Which makes it a little easier to promote/produce. Flamenco-singing has been a major creative outlet for me but most of all I’m an “aficionada” which in flamenco-lingo refers to a person who is immersed in the culture of flamenco, loving it deeply. For me it’s been a life-long passion that started in my teens when I fell in love with cante gitano (Gyspy flamenco singing). In my 30s and 40s I sang with many of the local flamenco groups and was a professor of Spanish and Latin culture. Later I directed the Encuentro del Canto Popular in San Francisco’s Mission district for several years and managed tours for Cuban artists. So when I founded the Bay Area Flamenco Festival 10 years ago in 2005, I brought all of those parts of me together.

“So many artists and people of all ages and walks of life are making creative waves at the grassroots and bringing the arts and culture into Oakland neighborhoods that have been plagued by urban blight, making them vibrant and exciting places to live and work. There is some degree of gentrification but it is counterbalanced by the inclusive, open and affordable cultural initiatives that are blossoming all around us.” -Nina Menendez

Oakulture: What approach or strategies do you use for creating and maintaining an inclusive space?

Nina Menendez: We are in the process of deepening our partnerships with several grassroots community arts organizations and applying for funding that will allow visiting artists from Spain and local Bay Area-based flamenco artists to offer free or highly-subsidized classes according to economic need on an ongoing basis to low-income children and youth. This goes hand-in-hand with our plan to build and expand our Artist Residency programs, making them a regular feature of our year-round programming, allowing for a deeper level of cultural exchange and tradition sharing.

Oakulture: What do you wish people knew or understood more about the behind-the-scenes?

Nina Menendez: That this is a labor of love and requires endless hours of planning and work. That we don’t have an endowment or any consistent source of funding and depend almost exclusively on ticket sales to cover all the expenses entailed in bringing world-class artists from Spain’s Gyspy flamenco community to the Bay Area. We depend on community support – it truly does take a village – and we are committed to finding ways to make this work sustainable through increased involvement of dedicated volunteers, expanded support from grant making agencies and foundations and the development of a pool of committed donors.

Nina Menendez at Oakland Flamenco Sessions

Nina Menendez at Oakland Flamenco Sessions

Oakulture: What’s exciting to you about Oakland culture right now?

Nina Menendez: So many artists and people of all ages and walks of life are making creative waves at the grassroots and bringing the arts and culture into neighborhoods that have been plagued by urban blight, making them vibrant and exciting places to live and work. There is some degree of gentrification but it is counterbalanced by the inclusive, open and affordable cultural initiatives that are blossoming all around us.

Nina Menendez with her mother, singer Barbara Dane

Nina Menendez with her mother, singer Barbara Dane

Oakulture: Role models? Who do you admire artistically and why?

Nina Menendez: Role models in the realm of producing: Chris Strachwitz (more of a record producer but key for roots music), artistically: My mom, Barbara Dane. I’m her number one fan.


Oakulture: Who are your Oakland heroines?

Nina Menendez: Trombonist Angela Wellman founded the Oakland Public Conservatory of Music downtown on Broadway in a storefront in 2005, several years before the current “renaissance” began. This is the first and only public conservatory of music in the United States where youth of all backgrounds have affordable access to world-class multi-cultural music education. Bobi Céspedes, Afro Cuban vocalist, educator and Yoruba-Lucumi priestess. Does Barbara Lee qualify as an Oakland heroine? Well she is definitely a heroine. Yoshie Akiba, founder of Yoshi’s jazz club is also on my list.

Oakulture: If you could book anyone, who would it be?

Nina Menendez: Diego del Gastor, el Perrate, la Fernanda. La Niña de los Peines and Melchor de Marchena. Terremoto de Jerez and Manuel Morao. Carmen Amaya. Moraíto.

Oakulture: Words to live by?

Nina Menendez: Ole! Aché! THANK YOU!
Honor your ancestors, contribute to your community, stand up for justice, love your family, appreciate your friends, be yourself and don’t buy into the mainstream media’s version of reality.

Bay Area Flamenco Festival:

Sunday, March 22nd, 7pm
Generations of Gypsy Flamenco
Featuring dancers Gema Moneo, Pepe Torres & Concha Vargas
with singers Jose Valencia & Luis Moneo

Guitarists Jose Galvez & El Perla
Percussionist Luis de la Tota
Informal pre-show festivities in lobby from 6-7pm

Tix $35-75
Palace of Fine Arts, 3301 Lyon St., San Francisco

Friday, March 27th, 8pm
Cante Jondo – Cante Gitano
Featuring singers Jose Valencia & Esperanza Fernandez
with guitarists El Perla & Jose Galvez
Percussionist Luis de la Tota

Tix $30-75
Brava Theatre, 781 24th St., San Francisco

Sunday, March 29th, 7pm
!Flamencas!
In Celebration of International Women’s Month
Featuring dancers Concha Vargas, Gema Moneo & singer Esperanza Fernandez

with guitarists El Perla & Jose Galvez
Percussionist Luis de la Tota
Tix $30-65
Crocker Theatre, Cabrillo College, Aptos (near Santa Cruz)

Monday, March 23rd through Saturday March 28th
Festival Workshops & Classes
Featuring singing, dance, guitar, palmas and improvisational skills with artists from the Festival
East Bay, San Francisco & Santa Cruz locations


Bay Area Flamenco Festival Twitter & Facebook

*Also check out Oakulture’s Guide to International Women’s Month Events in Oakland and Beyond for more woman-centric events throughout the month of March!

Follow Oakulture by entering your email above and Like Us on Facebook to keep up.


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Women Runnin It: Interview with Chaney Turner

This month Oakulture premieres “Women Runnin It,” a new interview series featuring women in dynamic positions of cultural leadership. We begin with Oakland female promoters. Usually behind the scenes, these women are the ones bringing your favorite concerts, shows and nights for you to soak in and live the culture of Oakland.  How do they build community and social arts networks? How do they curate a meaningful event or a club party?

Recently at a Bahamadia concert at Leo’s produced by Chaney Turner of Social Life Productions, the emcee spoke to the need to be actively engaged in creating inclusive community — a crucial component of a culturally-positive nightlife scene. Important to many of us, particularly women and LGBTQi persons, is the ability to go out at night, share our art, enjoy dancing or conversation and not have to defend our bodies and presence. The promoters who are committed to holding this ground for us and advancing it are bringing female artists, gender fluid and non-ratchet parties, and holding down inclusive, ‘safe’ spaces through curating social arts. They are cultural stewards that we at Oakulture value and support. We think you should too. Check out part one in the series, featuring Candi Martinez, here.
Follow Oakulture by entering your email above and Like Us on Facebook to keep up.

***

Our second Q&A interview is with Chaney Turner, founder of Social Life Productions, an event promotion and production company. Chaney is beloved by many and holds down a realness which contributes to the degree to which she is valued in many different communities. An Oakland native and one of the most well-known promoters inside and outside the LGBT community, she is a cultural activist, community organizer, dance floor igniter and style trendsetter who has helped to shape Oakland’s inclusive, gender-fluid club scene with parties like “The Social Life” and “SpeakerBoxx,” as well as being the former Entertainment Director for Eden Pride SF co-producing EDEN San Francisco Pride from 2012 to 2014 and co-owner/producer of fiveTEN Oakland Pride. “The Social Life”‘s mantra “Be Seen on the Scene” has resonated through Chaney’s work, which continues this month with the Check the Rhyme: Women’s Herstory Hip-Hop & Art Showcase” this Saturday. Oakulture highly recommends joining their events on Facebook to check out the posted videos.

Chaney Turner stays reppin The Town

Chaney Turner stays reppin The Town

Oakulture: What values do you bring to club promotion and how do they impact your decision- making?

Chaney Turner: I take the relationships that I have with venue owners and their staff seriously. Communication is very important when creating space, it’s a team effort. I work with clubs that are about building community and respecting the patrons who support their business.

Oakulture: What’s exciting to you about Oakland culture right now?

Chaney Turner: Oakland has always been full of culture. That’s what attracts so many newcomers. These young up-and-coming artists are doing some amazing work! I’m really loving the music and fashion that’s coming out of the town. Many talented artists might not be recognized in mainstream media, but are making an impact world-wide and putting Oakland on a larger map.

Oakulture: What relationship is there between your artistic work and your promotional work?

Chaney Turner: I consider myself a visionary, when curating an event I put a lot of thought and intention behind it. Which makes it a little easier to promote/produce.

Hip-hop legend Bahamedia performs at a Social Life produced-show.

Hip-hop legend Bahamadia performs at a Social Life produced-show.

Oakulture: What approach or strategies do you use for creating and maintaining an inclusive space?

Chaney Turner: When creating events, I try to bring together the perfect elements and people. I’m a Queer Black Masculine Identified Woman who’s an Oakland native. I consider myself to be a part of multiple communities and I try to represent that in the events I produce. Bringing together like-minded individuals who respect and admire each other is important to me. Oakland has always had an inclusive scene, especially in the art community. I’m just trying to remind people of that and preserve the culture.

chaney turner oakulture 013

Oakulture: What do you wish people knew or understood more about the behind-the-scenes?

Chaney Turner: LOL, great question! I love the work I do, but people think it’s easy because they only see the results of the work and it looks fun. This is my full time job, I have to wear multiple hats on a daily basis. There’s tons of logistics involved, meetings, contracts and schedules that have to be met. You need guts, integrity and a backbone for this work. Event production, promotions & nightlife, period, is a boys club. Women are rarely recognized for the work we do. [That’s] one of the main reasons why I take this work so seriously and grind hard.

“Oakland has always been full of culture. That’s what attracts so many newcomers. These young up-and-coming artists are doing some amazing work! I’m really loving the music and fashion that’s coming out of the town. Many talented artists might not be recognized in mainstream media, but are making an impact world-wide and putting Oakland on a larger map.” — Chaney Turner

Oakulture: Role models? Who do you admire artistically and why?

Chaney Turner: Oprah is my #1 role model. I admire Sean “P. Diddy” Combs for his work ethic and hustle. I really love and admire the art that Ava DuVernay and Shonda Rhimes are doing, creating opportunities for Black women and black people as a whole and being unapologetic about it. I’m proud of the work they’re doing and I’m beyond inspired. 

chaney turner bandw

Oakulture: Who are your Oakland heroines?

Chaney Turner: My Grandmother, Ida Mae Crisp. I thank her and my Grandfather for moving here and raising five children. She also played a major part in raising me. So she is my hero. Also I love admire and respect my sistas. Candi Martinez, Brianna Smith, Chinaka Hodge, Amy Nabong, Traci Bartlow, Jahmese Myers, Alicia Garza.

Oakulture: If you could book anyone, who would it be?

Chaney Turner: Erykah Badu. Missy Elliot.

Oakulture: Words to live by?

Chaney Turner: Create the life you want.

Oakulture: Your next show is the second one this month celebrating international women’s month. Could you tell us a little about why you are producing this next one “Check the Rhyme: Women’s Herstory Hip-Hop & Art Showcase”?

Chaney Turner: Women are still under-represented and over-sexualized in this industry. I wanted to highlight the four elements in a positive light. Dance, Art, MCing and DJing are the foundation of hip hop and women have been a part of it since the beginning. Each artist involved is extremely talented, diverse and I respect their craft. I hope our allies and brothers come out to support us as we take charge.

chaney turner oakulture 087

Social Life Productions’ next show:

Saturday, March 14th, 9pm
Check the Rhyme: Women’s Herstory Hip-Hop and Art Showcase
Featuring MC MADlines, DJs Lady Ryan, AGANA & Thatgirl
Live Painting by Joanne Ludwig
Hosted by Mona Webb
Vendors
Free Before 10:30pm/$10 After.
Berkeley Underground, 2284 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley.
Social Life Productions Twitter & Facebook

 

*Also check out Oakulture’s Guide to International Women’s Month Events in Oakland and Beyond for more woman-centric events throughout the month of March!

**This version has been updated with additional details from an earlier published version.


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Oakulture’s Guide to International Women’s Month Events in Oakland and Beyond

March has become known as international women’s month dating back to 1909, when organizers in New York initiated International Working Women’s Day on March 8th to honor striking garment workers. Now, around the world, events happen throughout March committed to honoring, loving and inspiring women’s lives. In Oakland, the herstory of women’s cultural activism includes Chinese-American suffragettes’ work in the early 20th century, the Gay Women’s Liberation and Black Power movements of the late 60s, all the way up to #BlackLivesMatter today. Now, every March brings many opportunities to revel in a wealth of informative, educational, and/or dynamic events celebrating international women’s impact, and the many incredible women we all live amongst every day, who have birthed the very fiber of our culture.

In Oakulture, those threads include hip-hop, artivism, solidarity, love, Bomba, ritual, #pussypower, truth-speaking and women singing, dancing, speaking and listening to each other — covering a wide range of ethnic/cultural diversity and artistic mediums, from visual art to spoken word to dance to music to film and more.  With that said, we present our guide to woman-centric events happening this March. Be a part of the culture you want to live in and join “El Mes de La Mujer” (The Month of Women).

*We will be making additions to this calendar regularly throughout the month of March. Follow Oakulture on WordPress.com and Like Us on Facebook to keep up. More events and information will be posted as it is available.


March 6th
Bites & Beats: A Celebration of Women in Hip Hop
Youth Radio’s Remix Your Life presents a special Bites & Beats celebration with a panel of women hip-hop artists/journalists, youth advocates, poets, authors, producers including MADlines, Coco Peila, Dom Jones, Rocky Rivera, Hazel Rose, Jazz Monique Hudson and Talia Taylor. “This panel allows community members to be part of a special artist-to-artist conversation, and an opportunity to witness and receive knowledge from a powerhouse of women who have and still are greatly contributing to the arts and society.” Youth performance showcase of artists follows at 7pm. Free Admission. 5:30pm, Youth Radio, 1701 Broadway, Oakland.

Coco Peila (r.) is featured at Youth Radio's "Remix Your Life" showcase

Coco Peila (r.) is featured at Youth Radio’s “Remix Your Life” showcase

March 6th
First Friday Featuring Three Women-Fronted Bands
Oaktown Indie Mayhem presents a First Friday show with three women-fronted bands: Meerna, Kelly McFarling and La Dee Da. Free Admission. All ages. 8pm, Awaken Cafe, 1429 Broadway, Oakland. 

March 6th
Friday Night Kick-Off for the 30th Annual Empowering Women of Color Conference
This year’s Empowering Women of Color Conference, “No Better Time Than Now: Transnational Resistance, Solidarity & Love” starts off with a Kick-Off Concert featuring Stephanie Yun, Ruth Kelly, Milani, Turtle Women Rising, DJ Agana, Joy Elan, Aurora Masum-Javed, Ruzove Sny, Amani, Ka’ra Kersey and Pluma Sumaq. Confirmed keynote speakers for the conference on Saturday are Favianna Rodriguez, CeCe McDonald and Corrina Gould. Free Admission & First Round of Drinks, 7-8:30pm, La Pena Cultural Center, 3105 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley.

EWOCC

March 6th & Ongoing
Black Women Artists On Art
Black Artists On Art’s The Legacy Exhibit reconfigures and refocuses for the latter part of their exhibit with “Black Women Artists On Art.” The main gallery features new and previously-exhibiting work by Sydney “Sage” Cain, Tasin Sabir, Virginia Jourdan, and others. 6-10pm. Oakstop, 1721 Broadway, Oakland.

March 6th & Ongoing
Oakland Through Our Lens
Betti Ono Gallery along with Michelle Ternus, Melonie and Melorra Green co-curate an Oakland International Women’s Day month-long exhibit, “Oakland Through Our Lens,” featuring photographs of life in Oakland taken by women of color, queer women and first time photographers. Opening night performance includes Valerie Troutt, Pr3ssplay Poets & Productions and The Singing Bois. Exhibiting artists include Amber Avalos, Andrea Barros, Cicely Day, Caity Fares, Angela Fernandez, Kristen Flury, Jay Gash, Angelica Gutierrez-Cruz, Idris Hassan, Melinda James, Diana Kampa, Morgan Parrick, Alejandra Perez, Rachel Perez, Sandra Ramirez, Julissa Rodriguez, Charise Sowells, Fran Ternus, Sunshine Velasco, and Karis Wallace. 6pm. Betti Ono Gallery, 1427 Broadway, Oakland.

Photo by Amber Avalos. Courtesy of Betti Ono Gallery.

Photo by Amber Avalos. Courtesy of Betti Ono Gallery.


March 6th & Ongoing

Rebirth: New Land, New Life, New People
Gallery owner and local art pioneer Joyce Gordon presents “Rebirth: New Land, New Life New People. Capturing the San Francisco Bay Area and its Diversity.” This exhibit features works by artist Nina Fabunmi, whose artist statement reads, “As an African Ambassador, art is my language and as you appreciate the work of my hands, you become a part of it.” Joyce Gordon Gallery, 406 14th St., Oakland.

March 7th
Sift & Uplift
Nicia de Lovely presents Sift & Uplift, an international women’s day celebration and fundraiser honoring the mighty spirit of woman. Featured artists include Jacalyn Evone, Carla S. Dancer, LeDre Entertains, Ike the Performer, Prettymuggin Illustrations, Black Hippie Boutique and guest of honor Dr. Ellen Foster-Randle, classical opera singer and African-American scholar. The night will bring poetry, choreography, singing, praising, fashion, stories of glory and includes food and a champagne toast. Contact niciadelovely@gmail.com. Tix $15, 3-6pm, Imagine Affairs Art Lounge, 408 14th St, Oakland.

Carla S. Dancer, featured at the Sift & Uplift International Women’s Day Celebration

Carla S. Dancer, featured at the Sift & Uplift International Women’s Day Celebration

March 7th
“Alice Walker: Beauty in Truth”
IHO Women’s Film Forum screens “Alice Walker: Beauty in Truth” with an in-person Q&A with director Pratibha Parmer. The feature documentary film focuses on the internationally-famous womanist writer and “Color of Purple” author, with appearances from Yoko Ono, Quincy Jones, Steven Spielberg and Danny Glover. 7-10pm. Tix $10-12. Impact Hub Oakland, 2323 Broadway.

March 8th
105th International Working Women’s Day March & Celebration
This year’s International Women’s Day march theme is “Uphold the Legacy & Power of Women’s Resistance Here and Abroad!” and it culminates at 1:30pm with a celebration for women’s strength & resistance. Contact: gabrielawomen@gmail.com. 12-3pm. Lake Merritt Amphitheater (12th st. & 1st ave.), Oakland.

March 8th
Dia Internacional de La Mujer Concierto 
La Pena Cultural Center presents an International Women’s Day Concert musical collaboration with Las Alma’s, Yeye Suarez, and the Mujeres Taller Bomba y Plena. All music written and performed by women. Come live the values and knowledge of International Women’s Day in this community concert. Family event. 5:30pm, Tix $12, La Pena Cultural Center, 3105 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley.

International Women's Day Celebration at La Pena

Mar 8th
Community Paint Day for “Her Resilience: A Mural For Women Affected By Violence”
Her Resilience” is a mural to honor, celebrate, and commemorate the lives of women affected by violence in Oakland. In April 2014, a young woman named Kimberly Robertson, new to Oakland, was the victim of violence and left dead in a local park. In response to this, an artivist collective of several women have initiated a community mural “Her Resilience” in a nearby park to honor and claim space and now invite the community to help complete the painting of the mural. A paint by numbers template allows for the community painting and the paint and brush supplies are provided. Contact: herresilience@gmail.com. 11am-5pm, Park Community Garden, Corner of Park & Cleveland, Oakland.

March 9th
“A Place of Rage,” “Angela: An Icon Reflects,” & “June Jordan: Wrong Is Not My Name”
IHO Women’s Film Forum screens works by director Pratibha Parmar and in-person Q&A.“A Place of Rage” looks at and celebrates African American women and their achievements through interviews with Angela Davis, June Jordan and Alice Walker. Also screening are Parmar’s films “Angela: An Icon Reflects” and “June Jordan: Wrong Is Not My Name.” Tix $10-$12. 7-10pm, Impact Hub Oakland, 2323 Broadway. 

Alice Walker (l.) with filmmaker Pratibha Parmar (r.)

Alice Walker (l.) with filmmaker Pratibha Parmar (r.)

March 12th
Woman Song – Girl Power!
Highly-respected Oakland non-profit MISSSEY presents “Woman Song-Girl Power!” celebrating the freedom of women and youth from exploitation and trafficking. Catherine Wanjohi, founder and director of Life Bloom Services International of Kenya, and Falilah Bilal, executive director of MISSSEY, will share stories of inspiration and heartache, victories and challenges such as Project H.O.N.E.Y (see video below). Betsy Rose and other Bay Area performers will lead in raising our voices in song and finding a deeper connection to women and youth at risk. Light refreshments. 6-8pm. Contact: 510-251-2070, MISSSEY Offices, 436 14th St, Ste. #150, Oakland.


March 14th

Check the Rhyme: Women’s Herstory Hip-Hop & Art Showcase
Chaney Turner and Social Life Productions bring you “Check the Rhyme: Women’s Herstory Hip-Hop & Art Showcase” featuring MC MADlines with DJs AGANA, Lady Ryan & Thatgirl and hosted by Mona Webb. With live art, dancers and vendors this is sure to be the women’s hip-hop throw down that you really want and need. Free Admission before 10:30pm/$10 After, 9pm-2am, Berkeley Underground, 2284 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley.

DJ Agana performs at "Check the Rhyme: Women’s Herstory Hip-Hop & Art Showcase"

DJ Agana performs at “Check the Rhyme: Women’s Herstory Hip-Hop & Art Showcase”


March 14th
The Benefit of Words
Marcus Books presents ‘The Benefit of Words,’ an intergenerational performance experience fundraiser. Packed with an incredible powerhouse line-up including many women such as Ryan Nicole, Jennifer Johns, Chinaka Hodge, YGB, Youth Speaks and many more artists this night is dedicated to celebrating and empowering the next generation. “Marcus Books is where I learned to read and now I teach upwards of 40,000 young people how to use their words everyday,” says Chinaka Hodge. Family friendly, Tix $20 online/$25 at door, 7pm,  Geoffrey’s Inner Circle, 401 14th Street, Oakland.

March 14th
Respect Where You Come From
Local favorite radical shoe store and art gallery SoleSpace hosts an artist talk with Oakland artivist Favianna Rodriguez on her recent works and exhibition “Respect Where You Come From” focusing on sexuality, feminism, #pussypower, climate change and human rights. Free Admission but only 50 seats, Doors at 6:45pm, SoleSpace, 1714 Telegraph Ave, Oakland.

Artivist Favianna Rodriguez

Artivist Favianna Rodriguez

March 14th-15th
Cold Piece of Werk
Written, directed and produced by an accomplished champion of women’s voices, Tracie Collins, “Cold Piece of Werk” is a stage play about a seventeen year old girl named Midnight caught in the sex trafficking epidemic of East Oakland. While her father is the pastor of the largest church in Oakland, the play asks how she ended up on the streets and how will she get out? Tix $25, 3pm and 7pm, *Doors close 10 minutes after show begins, Kaiser Center Lakeside Theater, 300 Lakeside Dr and 20th St, 2nd Floor, Oakland.


March 19th

“Free”
The much-anticipated Oakland premiere of “Free” screens the award-winning documentary about Destiny Arts Youth Performance Company and their use of art “to transform violence, poverty and isolation.” This beloved local dance/theater company for youth, well-known for their high quality performances and pioneering youth empowerment programs, Destiny Arts gets its shine as the documentary follows the intimate stories of five teenagers in the program.  Academy Award-nominated director Suzanne La Fetra and David Collier will be in conversation as well as project members. The screening also features a live performance by Destiny Arts. Tix $7. 7pm, Grand Lake Theater, 3200 Grand Ave, Oakland.

Mar 21st
Her Resilience Part I: Mural Unveiling & Ceremony
The Her Resilience collective of female artivists will unveil their new community mural for women affected by violence in Oakland with ceremony, community dialogues on safety and resiliency, healing circles for all genders, a kid zone and child care. Coffee, drinks, and donuts sponsored by Mamacitas Cafe. Contact: herresilience@gmail.com. 11am-3pm. Park Community Garden, Corner of Park and Cleveland, Oakland.

Her Resilience

March 27th
Empress Unification
The musical collective of female artists, Empress Unification, is committed to joining their forces to promote and support positive woman-centric reggae and world music artists and using their clout to financially support women’s charities. Empress Unification is a collaboration between Irae Divine, Razteria, Sol Atash and Kimiko Joy singing in english, farsi, french, hebrew, spanish and portuguese. Backed up by the Fyah Squad band, the Empress show will also bring in special guest Sister Molly Rose and others. The night is hosted by Sweet-T and this show will kick off their tour, “Strength in Unity.” All ages. Tix $10-15. 8:30pm, Ashkenaz, 1317 San Pablo Ave, Berkeley.

March 27th
A Leaf of Voices: Plant Myth and Lore in the African Diaspora with Luisah Teish
The Ohlone Herbal Center presents “A Leaf of Voices: Plant Myth and Lore in the African Diaspora” with author, storyteller, ritualist and elder in the Ifa/Orisha tradition of the African diaspora, Luisah Teish. This event features a lecture on medicine systems of the world lecture and hands-on workshop series on “how herbalism fits into the dynamic practices of these community leaders.” Teish’s recent book, co-authored with local Kahuna Leilani Birely, is titled “On Holy Ground: Commitment and Devotion to Sacred Land.” Tix $10-25, 7-8:30pm, The Ohlone Herbal Center, 1250 Addison, Berkeley.


March 28th

Out of Control
The Lower Bottom Playaz present a staged reading of “Out of Control.” Written by Opal Palmer Adisa and directed by Lower Bottom Playaz‘s own Ayodele Nzinga, this performance focuses on domestic violence when they say ‘Love Ain’t Supposed to Hurt . . .’ For more information and partners interested in a full production contact: wordslanger@gmail.com. Tix $5 suggested donation, 7pm, Eastside Arts Alliance, 2277 International Blvd., Oakland.

March 28th
Pecha Kucha Night Oakland
Pecha Kucha Night (PKN) is an event focused on speed inspiration and community. Invited presenters are allowed 20 powerpoint slides with 20 seconds of narration per slide. Oakland PKN presents a special International Women’s Month edition with an all-woman line-up including architects, artists, chefs, curators, designers, entrepreneurs, fabricators, fashionistas, historians and scientists: Anyka Barber, Miranda Bergman, Melonie & Melorra Green, Navina Khanna, Ebony McKinney, Dr. Gail Myers, Kate Schatz and Miriam Klein Stahl with DJLN on the turntables. Doors at 7pm, Tix $10, SoleSpace, 1714 Telegraph Ave., Oakland.