First tickets for Sweden's 'man-free' festival to go on sale

The Local Sweden
The Local Sweden - [email protected]
First tickets for Sweden's 'man-free' festival to go on sale
Emma Knyckare, founder of Statement Festival. Photo: Kitty Lingmerth

Tickets for what has grabbed global headlines as Sweden's first 'man-free' music festival, organized in response to reports of sexual assaults at concerts, will go on sale in less than two weeks.


Emma Knyckare's idea for the festival started with a simple tweet she posted in July after the Bråvalla festival in Norrköping cancelled its 2018 event after reports of a number of sexual offences.

"What do you think about putting together a really cool festival where only non-men are welcome, that we'll run until ALL men have learned how to behave themselves?" she wrote at the time.

Following an autumn of news articles and a frenzied social media debate about the rights or wrongs of such a festival, the date and venue for the 'Statement Festival' have now been revealed.

It will take place from August 31st to September 1st at Bananpiren in west coast city Gothenburg, which is also used by one of Sweden's most popular festivals, Way Out West. All proceeds will go to the festival, to pay performers and crew for their work.

The date-and-venue announcement comes on November 19th, International Men's Day, which is not altogether a coincident, Knyckare told The Local: "We thought it was an appropriate day to talk about it – a reminder of the issues women still face from men."

However, she stressed: "Crucially, the festival won't be 'man-free' as such – we'll look forward to welcoming non-binary and trans men. It'll be 'cis-gender man-free'," she said.

READ ALSO: 'We think we're an equal society, but harassment happens here too'

The concept is not uncontroversial, and has been criticized by people accusing it of discriminating against men as well as by people questioning why the ban only applies to cis men, men whose gender identity corresponds to their sex at birth, and does not extend to transgender men.

But Knyckare said reactions in Sweden and abroad had on the whole been "overwhelmingly supportive".

"Both from women and men. The majority of men in Sweden understand why their sisters and daughters and wives need to be protected and accept the purpose of the festival. Having said that, there are men who don't understand why they're not allowed to attend when they've done nothing wrong personally."

She added that she had noticed a difference in the wake of the global #MeToo campaign, sparked by rape and assault claims relating to Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein. Thousands of allegations of sexual harassment and assaults have surfaced in Sweden since, rocking the worlds of music, law, sports, politics, theatre and media in a country frequently labelled one of the most gender-equal in the world.

"No one questions the relevance of the topic of sexual violence towards women anymore," said Knyckare. "Since the hashtag started, it seems that there's a lower tolerance for bad behaviour generally."

#METOO IN SWEDEN: Thousands of women speak about about sexual harassment

With more than 3,000 backers raising more than 500,000 kronor ($62,800) via crowdfunding site Kickstarter to make the festival happen, it has come a long way since the comedian's first tweet.

"The idea came to me after reading of the rise in sexual assaults at festivals this summer iin Sweden. I had some free time to think about the situation, drank a few glasses of wine and came up with this idea: a safe festival space dedicated to women. Then I high-fived myself for coming up with this excellent idea, posted it on social media and went to sleep," said Knyckare.

"I'm a comedian, so it was an unusual thing for me to come up with a serious concept – I had phone calls from a lot of journalists asking if the festival was really going to happen. That sort of forced it to become a real 'thing' and within a few days I put together a project group of 22 people and the wheels were in motion."

A limited number of early-bird tickets will be released on December 1st and the first headline acts will be announced in January.

"Ticket prices haven't yet been finalized, but they will be cheaper than other festivals in Sweden – we want everyone to be able to come," said Knyckare, who will also perform on the festival's comedy stage.

But unlike most music events, the long-term goal of Statement Festival is to shut it down.

"Statement Festival is not a solution to the problem, it's more of a reaction to the problem."

"The goal is that no one should sexually harass anyone anymore – so once this stops happening we can end the festival, or welcome all men through the gates. We're ultimately hoping to make the nature of the festival irrelevant!"

Article by Ellie Day and Emma Löfgren


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