The Courage Collective: A safe space for female and non-binary artists

The Courage Collective is a new initiative created by Zoe Maras, owner of artist management agency 97 Joyride, and artist and educator JESA.

Zoe and JESA have together created a new event that provides a safe, diverse and inclusive space for women and non-binary people in the music and arts industry, while celebrating their contribution to the arts. Covid has delayed the gathering that was meant to be held at The Zoo in Brisbane this year, so it will now go ahead in April 2022. Blank had a chat to JESA about the event.  

What can we expect from the events?

Expect a beautiful cross-section of female and non-binary inclusive music, art and education. We’ve got an incredible line up of South-East Queensland and Northern NSW female and non-binary musicians, live visual art and an informative panel of diverse music industry experts from performers to managers to label owners and mentors. We invite everyone to come and celebrate the many voices of the music community, listen openly and connect with one another.

What was the thinking behind starting the event?

The thinking behind beginning The Courage Collective is far from glamorous. Zoe and I are both feminists and care deeply about equality, safe spaces and mental health especially for women and non-binary people within the music industry.

With Jaguar Jonze’s and hundreds of other stories coming to light along with our own personal experiences in the music industry we felt exhausted, burned out and deflated by the continuous conversations around the impact this was having on ourselves, our careers and our peers who we could see struggling with the same issues.

There became a point where we decided to recreate this anger, rage and frustration into action. We initially wanted a women’s circle – basically a space to share our stories with those who understood, a way to find solidarity with a select member of music industry people and friends we felt comfortable to share with. Although we realised that as young women growing up in the music industry, we would’ve loved to attend an open event that wasn’t about business or trauma bonding but about the celebration of us, our stories and many others so that’s when The Courage Collective event began to really take shape.

What is your background?

My background is as a singer/songwriter, artist, musician, composer, budding producer and educator. I began performing at age 13 at open mic nights and was writing songs from age 10. My love for music was sparked deeply around age 11/12 when I began learning guitar from my next door neighbour. I grew up in a small regional town called Bexhill about 12kms out of Lismore and am lucky to have been raised in the Northern Rivers, a very creative and beautiful region. My obsession with music led me to being involved in school choirs, musicals, concerts, showcases, anything that involved singing or dancing all through school. I feel grateful to have had opportunities to play at festivals like Bluesfest Byron Bay and play my original music to large crowds as a teenager. After school I continued to study music receiving my Bachelor of Contemporary Music (majoring in songwriting) at JMC Academy, Brisbane. As a soloist and with uni bands I played venues all over Brisbane and shared my songs often written with themes about mental health, female empowerment, connecting to nature or self-discovery. Moving back home to the Northern Rivers in the last few years I’ve begun teaching multi-instruments, creating my own tours and events, working on my debut EP, releasing music and working to align myself with artistic ventures that align with my values and morals.

Have you considered an all-female festival?

I’ll keep this short. I would love to make an all-female festival, be involved and attend one. I think this would be incredible to see the industry give the same kind of support to a female-dominated lineup as they do a male-dominated lineup.

Anything other than events in the future for The Courage Collective? 

I truly feel this is only the beginning for The Courage Collective and cannot wait to see how it evolves. For now, we’ve got amazing things in the work including the event in April 2022 and Merch available on The Merch Desk. If you want to stay updated follow our social media and keep your eyes peeled… can’t say too much.

Visit fb.com/thecouragecollectivecrew for updates.

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