This week we find ourselves inspired by Aerin Fogel and her musical creation Venus Fest.
With the topic of gender parity is still at the forefront of the music industry, Aerin Fogel is doing more than just talking about it; she went and did something about it, and something pretty great at that. A longtime member of the Toronto music community, and a musician in her own right, Aerin took our collective frustration at the lack of female identifying talent on festival lineups, and turned it into an actual festival.
Now it’s in 2nd year, Venus fest is Toronto’s very own feminist music festival. Aerin founded Venus Fest with the intention of fostering community, inclusivity and unification, all based on feminist values. Aerin and the team behind Venus Fest are working hard to change the way our music industry works, while shattering longstanding paradigms around programming and organizing of events. They’re raising awareness around who has access to and representation in the arts, both as performers and as fans. They’re ensuring that female identifying and other marginalized groups are not only gracing the festival’s stages, but are also in the audiences, having a great time supporting the music they love in safe and inclusive spaces. Venus Fest works hard to cultivate a fun atmosphere that is welcoming, respectful and tolerant for people from all walks of life, without enabling destrutive and abusive behavior.
Venus Fest takes over Toronto this weekend (September 20th-22nd) and its stellar lineup boasts power headliners like Partner, Zola Jesus and Bully. Check out the lineup below:
For all that and more, we find Aerin and Venus Fest so very inspirational. Let’s get to know this inspiring changemaker below.
What inspired you to start Venus Fest?
I started Venus Fest because there has been a growing conversation around the gender and structural imbalances in the music industry, but we didn’t have a lot of actual solutions. so the festival was created in response to a personal need that I had, but also a collective need that had been expressed by many people. I also wanted to create a space where art and healing can merge, as I believe artists are the healers of our world. when this is openly acknowledged and celebrated, there is a great opportunity for everyone in the room to feel transformed by the experience of coming together
What’s piece of advice would you give to someone trying to do what you do, or trying to follow their own dreams?
The success of something lies in its existence. All other notions of success stem from dehumanizing cultural beliefs that lead us to feel as if we are failing when we are, in reality, thriving. If you are inspired to do something, it is your life’s work to meet the inevitable obstacles that will arise and do all that you can to bring that thing into existence. But it’s never going to look the way you thought it would, so don’t worry about trying to get it “right” or make it “successful,” and certainly don’t worry about pleasing everyone because it’s impossible. Sometimes it’s important to recognize the obstacles we can overcome in following our dreams, and sometimes it’s important to accept the reality of how different that might look from our desires.
How do you do manage to do it all?
I have spent the last 7 years working in the healing arts (practicing astrology and energy work). I believe I would not be able to run Venus Fest without that background, and all of the healing work I have done in my life up until this point. Caring for something of this nature requires incredible resilience, strength, boundaries, compassion, adaptability, and clarity of purpose. I have learned endlessly about these qualities through working with clients and the deeply intimate aspects of their lives that they share with me. Venus Fest has called every single one of these things, and many more, to task. So I call on what I have learned to manage it – compassion, hard work, self care, clarity of purpose, and maintaining the bigger picture. If you lose sight of why you are doing what you do in the first place, it’s easy to get lost altogether.
If you had one wish to help make the world a better place, what would it be?
I believe that unconsciousness is at the root of all suffering in the world. Only 20% of our brain is conscious functioning, and the rest is unconscious. People are motivated by this 80% of their nature that is like an unshakeable instinct, and our inability to be fully conscious causes hatred, projection, shame, and many other destructive forces in the world. I wish that humans were able to be fully conscious, because I believe that if we were, we would live with utmost integrity and care for one another and the earth we’re living on.
Who inspires you?
Right now I am inspired by the Dandelion Initiative in Toronto, a nonprofit led by a group of survivors creating safer space modules for bars, venues, and clubs around the city. Our staff and volunteers did a training program with them in preparation for Venus Fest and we are so grateful for the important work they are doing.
If you could pick one charitable organization to ask our readers to donate to or volunteer with, which would it be?
The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC), a collection of 13 organizations dedicated to fostering the well-being of Indigenous women.
Donate link is here:
Support the inspiring Aerin Fogel and Venus fest by donating to the cause, or even better, by attending the festival this weekend. Click the link below to get your tickets.