Nourishing women’s creative expression in the Berkshire region

 

Photo by L. Najimy.

Building community among women of all ages and from many walks of life

Photo by L. Najimy.

Celebrating the creative talents of women writers with an annual month-long Festival in March, Women’s History Month

Photo by Lee Rogers.

Encouraging women to share their perspectives in the public sphere

Photo by L. Najimy

About the Berkshire Festival of Women Writers

The annual Berkshire Festival of Women Writers is a collaborative, multi-venue event sponsored by Bard College at Simon’s Rock with many local partners, celebrated county-wide in the month of March, Women’s History Month.

In 2015 we’ll be celebrating the Fifth Anniversary Season of the Festival in our usual style, with women of all ages, from many walks of life, sharing their talents through readings, lectures, workshops, performances and screenings held at Berkshire County venues from Sheffield to Williamstown.

Special events to look forward to include a keynote talk by memoirist Dani Shapiro on March 1; a special screening of Pamela Yates’ new film DISRUPTION with a talkback by the filmmaker, in honor of International Women’s Day on March 8; a Book Expo event showcasing all our Festival authors as well as local presses, bookstores and other vendors; a benefit performance directed by Jayne Atkinson-Gill on our closing weekend; and much, much more.

Please contact us to learn more about participating in the 2015 Festival–there are so many ways to get involved, from volunteering to becoming business sponsor or Friend of the Festival.  We can’t do it without you!

Festival News

Much to Be Thankful For at the Berkshire Festival of Women Writers

Festival presenters and supporters Jayne Atkinson, Anni Crofut Maliki andAmber Chand raise a toast to the Festival at a recent fundraising event.  Photo by Peggy Reeves.So much to be thankful for at the Berkshire Festival of Women Writers! 

 

We’ve been hard at work this fall curating our exciting Fifth Anniversary Season, and once again we’ll be bringing together an amazing group of women of all ages and backgrounds to brighten up the month of March, Women’s History Month, with their powerful voices and visions.

The Festival Program will be available in the New Year, but we’ll be giving you regular sneak peeks of what’s in store.  Scroll down for more info about the March 1 opening keynote lecture by acclaimed author Dani Shapiro, as well as what we’ve got planned for our gala closing weekend (hint: Jayne Atkinson and Mary Pope Osborne are among the highlights!)

At right, Broadway actress Sally-Jane Heit, who gave a delicious comic performance recently in support of the 2015 Festival (Photo by Peggy Reeves).

Read on for more details:

** Winners of the Gutsy Gals Inspire Me Film Contest Announced

** Dec. 7 Lean In writers’ circle to feature author Sheila Weller

** Special opportunity to congratulate the Festival in our 5th anniversary Program!

Dani Shapiro and Mary Pope Osborne: Bookends to the Fifth Annual Berkshire Festival of Women Writers  We’re excited to be welcoming Dani Shapiro and Mary Pope Osborne to our Festival sisterhood this year to share their insights on what it takes to build a thriving writing career.If you’re curious about what goes into building and maintaining a creative life, you’ll be delighted byDani Shapiro’s latest book, Still Writing: The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life, which we’ve selected as our March Festival Women’s Book Club pick. Dani will share with us how she balances her family life, an active public presence and still keeps the writing flowing—she is the prolific author of five novels and three memoirs, including the best-sellers Slow Motion andDevotion.

Mary Pope Osborne has been writing books for young readers since 1982, including YA novels, picture books, retellings of myths and folklore, biographies and mysteries. She is best known for her #1 New York Times bestselling Magic Tree House series, which has sold more than 120 million books worldwide.

Mary is former president of the Authors Guild, the country’s leading organization for published authors. As a strong advocate for childhood literacy, she has spoken at the UN, and been featured on Rock Center with Brian Williams and NPR’s All Things Considered.  At the Festival on March 29, she’ll be offering us a behind-the-scenes window into her life and writing career in a frank and thoughtful discussion with Berkshire writer Jenny Laird.

Dec. 7 Lean In with the Berkshire Festival of Women Writers Features Author Sheila Weller At the free drop-in Lean In circle on December 7, women writers are invited to bring short pieces of writing to share (500 words maximum), with a suggested theme of “breaking free.”The meeting will also feature author Sheila Weller, whose books Girls Like Usand The News Sorority have focused on trail-blazing women who have broken free of social constraints on their success.

As in Girls Like Us, her 2009 book on Carole King, Joni Mitchell, and Carly Simon, in The News Sorority (2014) “Weller attempts to illuminate the trouble with the TV news industry by zooming in on the biographies of three of those women who managed to come out on top,” says Amanda Hess of Slate.  The result, say many glowing reviewers, is a book you can’t put down.

Weller will take us behind the scenes in her reporting and writing process, and will be available for book signing afterwards.

The Lean In circle for women writers, co-hosted by BFWW Director Jennifer Browdy and Berkshire Magazine Editor Anastasia Stanmeyer, will be held Sunday, December 7 from 3 – 5 p.m. at the Stanmeyer Gallery and Shaker Dam Coffeehouse, 2 Main Street, West Stockbridge.  Please park in the Shaker Dam parking area or one of the town parking lots rather than along Main Street.

Mark your calendars for the January Lean In, same time and place on Sunday, January 11.

Stars of MUFFIN TOP: A LOVE STORY pose with writer and director Cathryn Michon, second from right.
Winners of the Gutsy Gals Inspire Me Film Awards for Women Filmmakers Announced Did you know that according to recent statistics, only 15% of Hollywood movies have women in lead roles, and only 5% of films are directed by women?When Gutsy Gals Inspire Me founder Deborah Hutchison learned about the challenges facing women trying to break into leadership roles in the film industry, she decided to do what she could to help. She started the Gutsy Gals Inspire Me Film Awards, which shine a spotlight on women who are doing great work in film, in the hopes of inspiring even more women and girls to follow their lead.

Gutsy Gals Inspire Me issued an open call for submissions last spring, and received nearly 100 films to review.  Eleven winners were selected in several different categories, with three honorable mentions.

The winner of the grand prize is Cathryn Michonwith her new film MUFFIN TOP: A LOVE STORY, a romantic comedy featuring an all-star cast, with a message that’s unusual for Hollywood: “What if your greatest insecurity [your weight] led you to a happier, more authentic life? A romantic comedy for the rest of us.”

MUFFIN TOP will be screened during the Festival as part of the Gutsy Gals Inspire Me Film Awards Ceremony on March 21, with Berkshire-based actress Karen Allen presenting the awards and also receiving an honorary Gutsy Gal award herself for her outstanding work in film.

A follow-up event on Sunday, March 22 will feature a panel of female filmmakers discussing the challenges and opportunities for women in the film industry.

It Takes a Village to Create a Festival Like Ours and There are So Many Ways You Can Help!  Now is the time to get your ad into our beautiful full-color Festival Program—closing deadline December 8.We print and distribute 5,000 copies of the program and it’s carried around and consulted throughout the month of March by thousands of enthusiastic Festival-goers.  Our rates are reasonable and our audience is your audience too—Berkshire region women and men who care about arts, culture and community.

You can order and pay for your ad online here, or download the ad rate sheet and pay by check.

All Festival supporters are encouraged tosponsor an ad in support of the Fifth Anniversary Season of the Berkshire Festival of Women Writers.  You can add your good wishes to our Program with special $50 ads congratulating the Festival on its first five years.

We also welcome business sponsorships of individual events—find out more here about how your business can support the creative expression of women and girls in the Berkshire region.  Your sponsorship entitles you to many benefits, including your logo on monthly newsletters like this one.

And of course, we are always so grateful to receive individual donations to ourFriends of the Festival circle.

Thank you for helping us to strengthen the community of women writers in the Berkshire region!

Table reservations are going fast!  Visit us online to reserve your place at our gala closing weekend event!
Want to make a difference for women and girls in our community?Get involved with the Berkshire Festival of Women Writers in our Fifth Anniversary Season!Energetic, enthusiastic volunteers needed to help with a variety of tasks and projects.

Email Jennifer or Lorrin atinfo@berkshirewomenwriters.org.
We look forward to working with you on this year’s Festival!

Support Your Festival

The Berkshire Festival of Women Writers thanks our generous sponsors:


The 2015 Berkshire Festival of Women Writers Organizing Committee: Dr. Jennifer Browdy (Founding Festival Director), Lorrin Krouss (Director of Business Development), Robin Zeamer (Program Coordinator), Lynnette Lucy Najimy (photography, video and social media publicity), Anna Myers (webmaster and graphic design), Judith Nardacci (publicity and grant-writing), Iris Bass, Sahra Brubeck, Melinda Burns, Sharon Coleman, Joanne Cooney, Pauline Dongala, Carolyn Fabricant, Maureen Hickey, Jan Hutchinson  Johanna Janssen, Vera Kalm, Alice Myers, Geri Stefanacci, Kuukua Yomekpe.
Major funding for the 2015 Berkshire Festival of Women Writers is provided by the Brabson Family Foundation, the John A. Sellon Charitable Trust, Ameriprise Financial, Baypath University, Bard College at Simon’s Rock, and the Local Cultural Councils of the Massachusetts Council on the Arts, including Northern Berkshire and the towns of Alford-Egremont, Dalton, Great Barrington, Lenox, Monterey, Mount Washington, New Marlborough, Otis, Pittsfield, Sandisfield, Stockbridge, Washington and West Stockbridge, as well as many other organizations, businesses and individuals.

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Introduction to the Berkshire Festival of Women Writers featuring Peggy Seeger, Sally-Jane Heit, Sharon Coleman, Barbara Dean and more.

 See more BFWW videos at Berkshire Women Writers on Vimeo.