Take Up Space – Folkestone Women’s Forum

The Folkestone Women’s Forum is a free group that’s grown from various initiatives in Folkestone supporting International Women’s Day on 8th March each year.  The women organising events in previous years didn’t want the connections to only be for one day.  Katy Lockey, a woman who seems to pop up in many professional guises, took on the task.  From this grew the Take Up Space Festival which is now in its 3rd outing for 2024. You can relive your youth with a screening of Desperately Seeking Susan, or create your own Drag King persona.  Folkelife met with Katy to become inspired.

Katy Lockey

“My friend Catherine Sangster and I took on the first Take Up Space in 2020.  We had so much energy and so many people on board to help.  It was a week of many events and then a week later we all went into lockdown.  One minute we were buzzing, mingling, feeding off each other with passions of women on a mission and the next minute we were all locked up at home, not allowed to see anyone.  It was incredibly strange. 

“As the world opened up Catherine and I would meet for walks to try and process what had happened.  We’d meet people on these walks who would say ‘what are you planning next?’ with eager anticipation and we just didn’t have it in us to do anything at that point. By the end of 2022 we organised last year’s festival which was a small affair, but gutsy and irreverent.  There was a plate-smashing art workshop where we all ended up painting our bottoms… we weren’t allowed to do that one in Quarterhouse, I remember…”

locally funded

Take Up Space returns for 2024 and is sponsored by Arts Council England, Creative Folkestone, The Roger De Haan Charitable Trust, some local councillors and from a crowd-funding mission run at the end of 2023.

We have a small budget to run on which means I get a producer.  We’re working with the wonderful Cheryl Pierce, formerly of Creative Folkestone, and now a freelance arts producer.  So we have a wonderful, and organised line-up of arts and happenings.  Rather than taking things easy, we have taken the budget and tripled the size of the festival from last year, adding just one member of staff. That’s something to work on for next year.  But here we have a five day festival from March 6th to 10th 2024.”

Folkestone Women's Forum
Take Up Space Drag Kings
Take Up Space Silver Screen
Riot Gulll
Take Up Space Raga A:dress

Support for the folkestone women’s forum

The Folkestone Women’s Forum has grown from the many festivals that we’ve put on around International Women’s Day.  It’s now a collection of women who can meet up for either a games night, a book evening or a night-time walk and support each other.  We ran a crowd-funding campaign for this festival, sharing through the network we have, and are able to put on events we know will be popular.  It also means that we can continue our conversations throughout the year, and not just on one weekend in March.

“Since the pandemic Folkestone has changed.  It used to be that we’d get one or two new faces along to each meeting and now there’s a whole crowd that’s new.  But, we do appreciate that people have a different relationship with coming out to events now.  So we’re building slowly, letting everyone know what’s going on and looking forward to seeing as many as possible.”

silver screen folkestone

“Thanks to some great work by Charlie Phillips from the Documentary Festival, we’ve got our first event happening at the Silver Screen.  It’s 40 years since Desperately Seeking Susan came out and so we’re showing that as our film.  I don’t think the film has dated, it’s a feminist classic.  We’ve got a Q+A with Susan Seidelman,the director, as well.  We’ll be encouraging people to dress up for that one!  When that film was released Madonna was pretty unknown.  Nowadays she’s influenced so many women growing up.  It’s interesting as she’s managed to regenerate and play with her identity each decade since then and courts a lot of discussion. And why not?”

the folkestone bookshop

“We love them at the Folkestone Bookshop!  What a place to create such a community space for everyone!  We’ve got events running there on the Thursday with Ione Gamble, author of Poor Little Sick Girls. The tagline for her book is ‘a call to action for unacceptable women!’  Our theme for the festival is The Female Gaze.  For too long we’ve been dressing to, conforming to the male gaze – busty dresses (think Bridgerton), models with big heads, big bags and small bodies and so on.  What is the Female Gaze and how can we embrace that?

“Ione is also the Editor of Polyester Zine which is one of my most absolute favourite magazines.  It’s unashamedly female.  It’s an unapologetic mish-mash of expansive feminism that’s inclusive.  There are 50 tickets for that so you need to book or you’ll miss it.  You can book for everything via the Creative Folkestone website.

Riot Gulll and origins untold

“Riot Gulll did her first gig for us at Take Up Space 2023 so it’s only fitting she returns with another line up of fantastic women in 2024.  Origins Untold are doing some queer-Black-trans poetry in the Folkestone Bookshop again.  It’s so great to have such local talent, local activists and artists doing such great things.  We have the budget this year to give them a platform which is very valuable and a privilage.  Then we have Eloina: High Steaks on at Quarterhouse on the Friday night.  She’s in the top 5 theatre tours of The Guardian and The Times this year and did a sell out at the Edinburgh Festival last year.  It’s a show about her relationship with her labia.  Everyone who has a labia, or loves someone with a labia needs to see this show.”

bring your mothers

“Saturday is a wild day, we’ve got workshops coming out of our ears.  The Daughters of Industry will be there selling their wares in The Clearing at Quarterhouse and we’ve got our hub at Brewery Tap where things are happening too.  There are too many things to try to describe here and it goes on through Sunday too.  Now, it’s Mothering Sunday on the 10th and I know that people will want to spend this with their mums, so we’ve got ‘bring along your mum’ events if you think this will be a good change. 

All our prices are ‘pay what you feel’ because we know times are hard.  We’ll be releasing more and more events as it gets closer to the day so our socials are the best place to look. It’s going to be a wonderful 5 days of celebration and I can’t wait.”

discover more about folkestone below

Folkestone Ladies Social Club – Connecting The Community
Meet The Wildes – Folkestone Families
Festivals and Family Events – the Folkestone Quarterhouse
Zoe Gilbert – Author and Resident

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