Women on Tap Festival 2021
Wow, what an incredible couple of months it has been, working with the Women on Tap festival. For those of you who don’t know, I have not only been selected to deliver one of six creative commissions for the 2021 festival this week, but I have also been working on a freelance contract as Digital Assistant to support the festival team.
My commission was chosen to launch the festival yesterday, which was a real honour. I responded to the question “What is a pub?” by creating a written and photographic piece. I have spent the last 6 weeks or so interviewing some incredible women to find out how the pub was important to them during lockdown and beyond. My starting point was that defining the pub is next to impossible because each one is different. Maybe you can say they are buildings where people can consume alcohol? But when the government bans you from serving customers indoors, then what?
Anyway. It has been an absolutely fascinating journey for me, creating this work. I chose a mixture of people to speak to that I knew would have interesting stories, but while my follow up questions varied, my initial questions were always the same. Who are you and what do you do? What is a pub, for you?
What is a pub?
I don’t know what I expected, but these jumping off points led to fascinating conversations about communities. Many of these collections of people had become virtual, or theoretical, during lockdown. One or two of these collectives only came into existence because of the pandemic. But universally, the women I spoke to talked about people for a long time before they came to mention anything to do with buildings or drinks.
I found it inspiring, that even though so many publicans have had such a raw deal during lockdown, they have so selflessly continued to serve the people around them. Hearing about meals on wheels, about support phone lines and even one general manager taking Christmas gifts out to her regulars in 2020. I simply cannot imagine where else you would find this sort of selfless behaviour. There is something very special about our pubs. I find that there is even more to celebrate about the people who work in them and the people who visit them.
But judge for yourself. My commission is live on the Women on Tap website. While you’re there, why not take a look at all the other great events and commissions – many of which are available online so it doesn’t matter where you are. Plus you can support Women on Tap in the long term by becoming a Patron. Hell, you can even support my Patreon account and help me to continue to try and give a voice to the people who aren’t always heard.