ORGANIZATION | Inducted 2013
POW-WOW (once formally known as Performers or Writers for Women on Women’s Issues, Inc.), for 10 years of offering an open and affirming space for women, especially those of color, to create and present artistic performances and writing, as well as helping women and girls re-entering society to develop artistic careers and providing socially relevant, arts-based literacy programs.
POW-WOW, known in full as Performers or Writers for Women on Women’s Issues, was established in 2003 as an all-volunteer organization that provides a weekly performance space for women artists to create, develop, and present artistic performances and writing. It also provides mentorship to young women and teen girls who seek to become full-time artists.
The organization develops training programs for women and teen girls to help create economically sustainable careers in the arts, and it develops alliances with men who support women’s social-justice issues and women artists. It also supports women and teen girls who are re-entering society from traumatic domestic environments or penal systems, by providing them with arts-based educational programs that empower them to pursue arts careers. In addition, it provides artsbased literacy programs in schools, which address the social, gender, and economic issues of women and girls.
The POW-WOW poetry venue that started with fewer than 12 people in the audience grew to attracting 75 to 100 audience members weekly. POW-WOW and its founder, C.C. Carter, have received more than a dozen awards, and the organization has enjoyed public recognition that includes being the subject of women-and-gender-studies classes across the country.
POW-WOW programs, each with a dedicated volunteer coordinator, have included a weekly Tuesday open-mic forum; a 24-hour crisis-care referral hotline; a poetry performance ensemble conducting outreach on LGBTQ issues; an educational component developing curricula for detention facilities, family shelters, and youth; a program for gender-variant women and youth, focusing on the spectrum of butchness and female masculinity; a group for male allies to reach out to other males on women’s issues; and an internship program that helps jobless women develop artistic businesses.
The programs have aimed especially to meet the needs on Chicago’s South Side of women of color, those who are young, those with low incomes or from underserved communities, and those who are disabled, homeless, affected by trauma, or are LBTQ.
Through media-watch campaigns and advisories, POW-WOW has provided forums, newsletters, and performances in response to current events as they pertain to or are seen through the eyes of a diverse culture of women and men. It has sought to create opportunities for displaced and marginalized women and young women to have a platform from which to be heard.