In July 2019, Michelle facilitated a forum at Perth’s The Blue Room Theatre called Mothers of Invention: Occupy! Created as a space for mothers in the arts to openly discuss the need for increased visibility and representation of motherhood, in all its diversity, the forum was attended by a range of arts leaders and artists, all of whom were mothers.
The Motherfesto: Rights, access and inclusion for all mothers in the arts and culture is the culmination of that forum and Hall’s ongoing research. To be officially published on 6 December, its publication is timely, following as it does the recent release of the National Working Families Report 2019, which found that 62% of parents and carers report difficulties looking after their own physical and mental health as they try to balance competing work and family pressures.
The Report also found that 23% of mothers and 13% of fathers reported receiving negative comments from managers and supervisors for using paid parental leave.
Addressing social and cultural barriers as well as economic ones, the Motherfesto is a call to arms and a challenge to the arts sector to do better.
It explores discrimination, disadvantages, gender stereotypes and invisibility across motherhood in Australian society, and outlines some of the major obstacles preventing mothers from participating in arts and culture.
In Hall’s words: ‘Most workplaces and cultural spaces, like theatres, still rest on the premise of mothers leaving their kids elsewhere and function around 1950s style work hours, gender expectations and attitudes. You either drop off your kids, or your drop off your art/work. In 2019, we shouldn’t have do that. It is possible to be both mother and artist and it’s time for a culture shift.’
Importantly, the Motherfesto comes from the lived experiences of mothers in local arts workplaces, venues, production processes.
Read more about the Motherfesto here.