The festival, in its third year, is a place where women and the LGBTQ community can share their art and have a voice.
TUFFEST, the all-day intersectional art and music festival, aims to inspire women, LGBTQ folks and other marginalized people to share their creativity and insights, says festival co-organizer Tiffany Wan.
“My hope is that we inspire people of similar identities who perhaps feel they can’t throw an event or are too afraid to perform or do things for a larger audience,” said Wan of the yearly festival, funded by a grant from the city’s Office of Arts and Culture and private donations. “My hope is that they’ll see what we’re doing and think the goals they have are important, too.”
This year marks TUF’s second summer festival and its third year in existence. It takes place Saturday, Aug. 26, at Judkins Park in the Central District. In 2016, the festival attracted an audience of about 1,000 people and, Wan said, there should be similar numbers this year — especially given the talent on stage, which includes Seattle musicians Taylar Elizza Beth and Youryoungbody, as well as workshops on gender identity in the electronic-music industry and body positivity in queer creative spaces, among others.
Noon-10 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 26, Judkins Park, 2150 S. Norman St., Seattle; free (tuf-seattle.com).
In fact, Wan said, the workshops were a highlight from 2016’s festival. “We had a panel last year on disrupting the cultural establishment,” she explained. “Several people were on it, including Leena Joshi, Minh Nguyen and Renee Jarreau Greene. The conversation was about whether it’s important to dismantle the existing social and political paradigms or make space in the already flawed hierarchy. It was such a great discussion.”
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The focus of TUF is to promote and celebrate people who identify outside of the status quo while also showing the need for representation within the musical mainstream. The festival is also aimed at young people in need of a welcoming, understanding community. “We’re trying to spread awareness to people who are older,” admits Wan, “but we really want to make younger women and younger queer folks feel powerful.”
This mission is not lost on TUF’s mainstage performers, either. “TUF is one of the only groups that center femmes and nonbinary folks,” said rapper Taylar Elizza Beth. “They do a great job of creating opportunities for folks of color and are making waves in the otherwise male-dominated world of electronic (music) and nightlife — it’s important, especially because it’s free and accessible to all.”
While the internet has historically been safe ground for marginalized folks to digitally gather and communicate with one another, Wan said these days the internet and social-media platforms can be hard to digest for many. So, more and more, in-person events like TUFFEST remain important for empowerment.
“With a lot of what’s been going on in the political climate,” Wan notes, “a lot of people have turned away from social media because of how stressful it can be — and this year, compared to last year, lots of people are reaching out to help volunteer. It’s overwhelming.”
Wan says that she hopes she and her co-organizers will continue to foster the burgeoning ambitions of their young organization. “I would love nothing more than have this be what I do with my time,” Wan said. “There are still people who are resistant to our ideology, who think that what we do maybe isn’t necessary or is inflammatory. And that’s a shame. But I think all we can do is keep doing what we’re doing and continue to have conversations with people.”