This Saturday, April 28, from 10 AM to 3 PM, several locations on Lexington’s Main Street were home to the Listen Up! Festival. This festival, inspired by the momentum gained by the #MeToo movement, was created to provide community-wide support for survivors and victims of interpersonal violence, which Stephanie Theakston, the Program Coordinator of the Domestic Violence Prevention Board, described in a press release as “including dating violence, domestic violence, sexual violence, and stalking”.
Theakston, who is coordinating the event, explained that the event is a continuation of the strides made with the #MeToo movement.
“At the end of last year there was a lot of momentum for this topic from the #MeToo movement, and we wanted to build on that before public attention shifted,” said Theakston on the beginnings of this festival.
In addition to bringing attention to the topic of interpersonal violence, the festival will also serve to educate the community on preventing and handling it. This event is not just for professionals, victims, or survivors but for the entire community.
“We wanted it to be something that highlighted the voices of survivors themselves, that built empathy for their experiences, that educated the general public on the diversity of those experiences and why victims might respond in different ways to violence, and we wanted it to be something that made solutions accessible to people so they could begin to see and participate in ways that make a difference for victims and survivors,” said Theakston.
The hope for the festival is that the Lexington community can come together to stop domestic violence. Many of its activities will be focused on ending violence but also on how to support the victims of it.
Anyone can be a victim of interpersonal violence, so one goal of the festival is to show the diverse groups of people it affects.
“We also are hoping this will be an opportunity to demonstrate there is support for victims and survivors of different identities, including survivors within LGBTQ communities, survivors that speak various languages, survivors of color, survivors of multiple ethnicities and different ages, survivors that are immigrants, survivors with varying abilities, and more,” said Theakston.
Theaskton explained that one of the biggest highlights of the festival is that there are many opportunities for survivors of interpersonal violence to speak out and share their experiences. One such space for this is the Soapbox Area that will be located by the fountains in front of the Chase Bank Building.
“If any survivors are just now hearing about the festival and would like to make their voice heard, the Soapbox is the perfect area to do so, and that will be happening during the whole festival,” said Theakston, encouraging survivors to speak out.
This festival has many community sponsors, including Transy. “Through the Office of Student Wellbeing, Transy has injected wonderful energy and creativity into our planning process. There are several activities taking place at the festival that have been created and organized by Transy staff, and there will be several students volunteering – especially from It’s On Us,” said Theakston.
Theakston wants everyone to know that, “The festival is free and family friendly, and the weather is supposed to be gorgeous!”
Visit the festival’s Facebook event page here.