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Student-run H.E.N. House creates space for female empowerment

After seeing inequality in their industry, Belmont students Grace O’Shea and Claire Bidigare-Curtis are taking matters into their own hands by opening a new music venue.

This venue, H.E.N. House, will feature all female crew members and artists, in an effort to combat gender inequality in the music industry.

“We want people to be focusing on the quality of work instead of what gender a person is,” said O’Shea.

H.E.N. stands for “highlight, empower, navigate,” according to the venue’s website.

Both Bidigare-Curtis and O’Shea have seen inequality in the music industry and their audio classes at Belmont firsthand.

“I’m an audio engineering major, and I really only have about two to three other females in every single one of my classes, and that is what the industry is like for female audio engineers in general. I think it’s like 5 to 7 percent of all audio engineers are female,” said Bidigare-Curtis.

“We both experienced that, just being the minority,” Bidigare-Curtis added. “So that was part of our inspiration for creating H.E.N. House — to create a platform to know about each other, to support each other, to practice and get better at what we do.”

Bidigare-Curtis and O’Shea thought of the idea last fall but had to postpone their planning until their schedules calmed down at the end of the semester. The H.E.N. House website and social media launched in January, and the venue will host its first show on March 23.

The first show’s lineup includes Belmont artists Hannah Duff, Lauren Weintraub and Emma Kleinberg along with Josey, who O’Shea met at a writer’s round. The duo liked the idea of being able to help out other students in the industry, they said.

Beyond just finding artists, they want to make sure H.E.N. House — which will hold its shows in Bidigare-Curtis’ backyard — is a comfortable environment for guests.

“We’re going to have lots of couches and lamps on the stage, and then have carpets on the ground for pillows,” Bidigare-Curtis said. “Most house shows are in the house, and they’re really stuffy and uncomfortable, so we want to bring the vibes of the indoor house shows outside.”

Even with the emphasis on having a female crew and lineup, Bidigare-Curtis and O’Shea still recognize the importance of inclusion.

“An important part, we also realize, is having male allies. We’re having them help take tickets at the door and sell merchandise, because we do see the importance of having male allies and having other people see that they are supporting us in our mission as well,” said O’Shea.

As the show approaches, O’Shea and Bidigare-Curtis are expecting around 75 people and have even partnered with Lyft to provide discounts for people heading to their show.

“We thought we were just going to do this little show and people would be like, ‘Oh that’s cute,’ but we’ve been getting a lot of good responses, which I think is awesome and reflective of how people are willing and ready to make it change,” said O’Shea.

Article by Lydia Fletcher

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