IN SEPTEMBER 2013, four hundred men and women gathered in the Northern Territory town of Katherine for the Women of the World Festival (WOW). This landmark event was a partnership between one of Australia’s newest and smallest cultural centres, the recently opened Godinymayin Yijard Rivers Arts and Culture Centre, and one of Britain’s oldest and largest cultural centres, the Southbank Centre in London. WOW was created in 2011 for the centenary of International Women’s Day and has become one of Southbank’s annual flagship festivals. Driven by its inspirational artistic director, Jude Kelly, it is an event for people of all ages and backgrounds to celebrate women’s achievements and examine the obstacles that prevent them reaching their full potential.
This is the story of how the Godinymayin Yijard Rivers Arts and Culture Centre and WOW were made possible and the impact on this small, remote yet culturally and strategically important town. It is a story of resilience, a story of leadership, and a story of partnerships. It is a demonstration of how culture – expressed through stories, creativity and the design of welcoming spaces – may remove barriers that inhibit social and economic development and cohesion.
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