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

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.

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

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


15 great English-language acts at Sweden’s Fringe festivals

Lovers of the arts, rejoice! Fringe festivals are once again upon us, hitting Gothenburg from September 1st-4th and Stockholm from September 5th-10th. We take a look at our favourite acts in English.

15 great English-language acts at Sweden's Fringe festivals
Eleanor Conway's Walk of Shame. Photo: Photo: Jamie Rowan/Stockholm Fringe Festival

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the world’s largest arts festival and an inspiration for other festivals around the world. In true fringe spirit, festivals in Bergen, Gothenburg, Reykjavik*, and Stockholm came together to launch the Nordic Fringe Network, a new platform for international artists to reach Nordic audiences. In such a special year to celebrate performance art, we’re excited to see so many great acts coming to Sweden. Here are some of our favourites:

*Note: Unfortunately, the launch of Reykjavik Fringe Festival had to be postponed to 2018.


Artificial Ineloquence

Do you speak emoji? Dan Simpson does, and this year the poet comes to Gothenburg armed with his smart and witty humour, and a selfie stick. A seasoned performer, he brings spoken word to a range of audiences, working in schools, running creative writing workshops, and collaborating with scientists in projects that fuse poetry and science. Artificial Ineloquence is an engaging and contemporary stand-up poetry show which focuses on the screens and machines that rule our lives, the rise of robots, and the inevitable A.I. takeover of the world.

When: 8pm, September 1st; 5pm, September 2nd; 8pm, September 3rd

Duration: 60 minutes

Where: Henriksberg, Stigbergsliden 7, Gothenburg

Price: 100 kronor ($12)

Photo: Dan Simpson/Gothenburg Fringe Festival


Scottish comedian Chris Henry is a man on a twisting mission. His show Balloonatics has been a massive hit back in the UK, with sold-out performances at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. It was the runner-up for the Children’s Event Award at Perth Fringe World 2017, and is guaranteed fun for children and adults alike.

When: 2pm, September 1st; 2pm, September 2nd; 1pm, September 3rd

Duration: 60 minutes

Where: Sjöfartsmuseet Föreläsningssalen, Karl Johansgatan 1-3, Gothenburg

Price: 80 kronor ($10)

Photo: Chris Henry/Gothenburg Fringe Festival

Hear Much/Say Little

Irish performer Amanda Doherty’s solo show, subtitled “The Bodyless Woman”, explores the theme of Magdalene Laundries in Ireland, religious institutions supported by the government where “fallen women” were imprisoned and confined against their will. It questions issues of bodily autonomy and governments’ ownership of the female body. Hear Much/Say Little came to Sweden for Stockholm Fringe 2016 as a work-in-progress showing and was nominated for the festival’s “Expect the Unexpected” Award. Her previous solo work ‘Inheritance’ was nominated for several international awards, and won the “Festival Spirit” Award at Stockholm Fringe 2015. Originally from Derry, Doherty has trained in London and New York and has been considered one of Ireland’s foremost young actors.

When: 4pm,September 1st; 8pm, September 2nd; 7pm, September 3rd

Duration: 60 minutes

Where: Göteborgs Dramatiska Teater, Stigbergsliden 5B, Gothenburg

Price: 100 kronor ($12)

Photo: Andrei Runcanu

My First Ten Sexual Failures and Other Stories About Growing Up

Andy Silverwood is a British actor and comedian who has travelled the world with his solo performance about sex, relationships, coffee, and all other things people are expected to have when they grow up. Silverwood has come to Sweden before, and took home the “Expect the Unexpected” Award at Stockholm Fringe 2014 for ‘Fragility’, his partnership with James Grice. My First Ten Sexual Failures was voted the number one act to see at Barnstaple Fringe TheatreFest 2016 and has had sold out showings at Fringe festivals in Stockholm, Prague, Perth, and Adelaide.

When: 8.30pm, September 2nd (Bengans); 6:30pm, September 3rd (Henriksberg)

Duration: 60 minutes

Where: Bengans, Stigbergstorget 1, Gothenburg; Henriksberg, Stigbergsliden 7, Gothenburg

Price: 80 kronor ($10)

Photo: Andy Silverwood/Gothenburg Fringe Festival


Quaestio is the latest and last work of renowned choreographer Thomas Michael Voss, who passed away in March shortly after the show’s premiere at Resolution 2017, the UK’s biggest festival for new dance. It explores disability, masculinity, and bullying, themes personal to Voss, who grew up in a football-fanatic family. Voss’ main inspiration in creating the show, however, was meeting comedian Joshua Robertson, who survived an accident at age 11 and has lived with brain injuries since. In dance, Robertson puts aside his jokes to explore issues of disability in movement and body language. He is joined by four professional dancers, a soprano, a violinist, a pianist, and 18-year-old harpist Hero Douglas, who also composed the original score. Gothenburg is the first international performance of the show.

When: 3pm, September 1st; 12.30pm, September 2nd; 6.30pm, September 3rd

Duration: 60 minutes

Where: Frilagret, Heurlins Plats 1, Gothenburg

Price: 50 kronor ($6)

Photo: Quaestio/Gothenburg Fringe Festival


Bag of Swedes

Therese Sandin, Josefin Johansson and Pernilla Hammargren don't have much more than three things in common: they are women, Swedish, and comedians. Seasoned performers with experience abroad, they have individual performances in Swedish throughout the festival, and come together for a 60-minute stand-up showcase in English on September 9th.

When: 8.15pm, September 9th

Duration: 60 minutes

Where: Bonden Bar, Bondegatan 1D, Stockholm

Price: 120 kronor ($14), concessions half-price.

Photo: Bag of Swedes

Black Revolutionaries Don’t Drop from the Moon

This performance explores themes of political struggle, taking inspiration from activist Assata Shakur, a prominent female member of the Black Panthers and the Black Liberation Army. The title is part of a famous quote from her autobiography, which reads: “Black revolutionaries do not drop from the moon. We are created by our conditions. Shaped by our oppression.”

When: 5.30pm, September 6th

Duration: 70 minutes

Where: Teater Tribunalen, Hornsgatan 92, Stockholm

Price: 120 kronor ($14), concessions half-price

Photo: Mahoyo

Eleanor Conway’s Walk of Shame

The critically-acclaimed Walk of Shame comes to Stockholm on its extended tour. It is Eleanor Conway’s first full hour of stand-up, although she has been performing as a comedian since 2010. She has travelled the world working as a music presenter, and in Walk of Shame tells of the extreme decisions that have led her to Asia, into porn, through Tinder, and back.

When: 9.30pm, September 6th

Duration: 70 minutes

Where: Bonden Bar, Bondegatan 1D, 116 23 Stockholm, Sweden

Price: 120 kronor ($14), concessions half-price

Photo: Jamie Rowan

FringeBio: SYDNEY

Aussie, Aussie, Aussie! Cinewest brings us a selection of the best Australian short films, curated for Sydney Fringe Festival 2017.

When: 3pm, September 10th

Duration: 60 minutes

Where: Zita Folkets Bio, Birger Jarlsgatan 37, Stockholm

Price: 120 kronor ($14), concessions half-price

Photo: Sydney Fringe Festival


Architect and dancer Sofia Kondylia performs a theatrical synopsis of her “Architecture+Dance” research into the coupling of the two arts in the creative process. In this interactive lecture performance, she explores the creation of spaces through bodies’ movement.

When: 9pm, September 7th; 6pm, September 8th

Duration: 35 minutes

Where: Teater Tre, Rosenlundsgatan 12, Stockholm

Price: 120 kronor ($14), concessions half-price
Photo: Mariana Bolano/Manos Garyfallou/PV

i (to be defined)

Benno Steinegger spent two years interviewing a wide range of people, from his physician to a shaman to his mother, asking them to describe him. The results led him on a journey of self-discovery and reconstruction of his own identity. In this performance, the artist questions the boundaries of his identity, and explores the possibility of deep personal transformation.

When: 8pm, September 7th

Duration: 50 minutes

Where: StDH T-huset, Valhallavägen 193, Stockholm

Price: 120 kronor ($14), concessions half-price

Photo: Leonardo Mazzi/Gregor Khuen Belasi

I will not tell you our love story (it will die with us, as it should)

This performance will only happen once. It revolves around a love story that lived and died. As the exchanged messages filled up the mobile’s memory space, they were gradually deleted. First, the “okays” and “see you at homes”, then the ones about daily life. Finally, the undeletable messages of love and sex, the remains, will be read aloud and permanently deleted during the performance.

When: 1.45pm, September 7th

Duration: 90 minutes

Where: Vita Havet Konstfack, LM Ericssons väg 14, Stockholm

Price: Free

Photo: Ana Correa

Keep Right

In this video installation, Tehran-based  Zahra Zavareh explores Iranian mythology and poetry to tell a tale of love refugees in battle against nationalism. The story is told through the legend of Rustam, immortalized by Persian poet Ferdowsi in his Epic of Kings Shahnameh.

When: 1pm, September 10th

Duration: 4 minutes

Where: Zita Folkets Bio, Birger Jarlsgatan 37, Stockholm

Price: 120 kronor ($14), concessions half-price

Photo: Zahra Zavareh

Love and then Lighthouses

Originally created as part of It’s All in Your Head, a project exploring the theme of mental health, Love and then Lighthouses follows Sheena as she tells the tale of a little boat thrown off course by a storm. A show about how to survive teen angst, and make it through the pitch black night.

When: 5.30pm, September 8th; 3.30pm, September 9th

Duration: 50 minutes

Where: Teater Tribunalen, Hornsgatan 92, Stockholm

Price: 120 kronor ($14), concessions half-price

Photo: Marianne Chua


Maria Shehata is an award-winning Egyptian-American comedian, who moved to London from LA for no other reason than love. The move – and all that ensued – are the inspiration for this critically-acclaimed show.

When: 8.15pm, September 8th; 9.30pm, September 9th

Duration: 55 minutes

Where: Bonden Bar, Bondegatan 1D, Stockholm

Price: 120 kronor ($14), concessions half-price

Photo: Christian Dyson

For more acts in English, Swedish and other languages, have a look here and here.