It all started with a car ride and a stop for pizza. Chicago film critic Jan Lisa Huttner, who was instrumental in the 2004 formation of WITASWAN (Women in the Audience Supporting Women Artists Now), and Martha Richards, founder of the WomenArts Network, were returning to Chicago from the 2007 American Association of University Women conference in Bloomfield when they pulled over for a bite to eat. The ensuing discussion centered on additional ways to connect women artists with women audience members, and by the end of the trip across Illinois, SWAN Day had crystallized as an annual worldwide event held in celebration of women artists of all mediums and genres.
Initially launched in 2008, SWAN Day quickly grew in a only few short years, encompassing over 700 events by 2011, not only in the United States but practically every continent on the planet. Although the last Saturday of March—which is also Women’s History Month—is the official designation for International SWAN Day, a variety of activities are likewise held in cities across the globe throughout March and April as well. Thanks to Pittsburgh theater troupe No Name Players and their artistic directors Tressa Glover and Don DiGiulio, the Steel City is a regular participant in SWAN Day, and Pittsburgh was even named an official SWAN Day partner in 2012 alongside producers in Kenya, Bulgaria, New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Florida. 2015 again brings SWAN Day to the region with a full evening of performances on Saturday, March 14th, at the Twentieth Century Club on Bigelow Boulevard in Oakland.