WOW Australia

The History of WOW



Southbank Centre London Artistic Director Jude Kelly CBE launched WOW – Women of the World Festival in 2010 to mark the centenary of International Women’s Day, as a major global festival that celebrates women and girls and looks at the obstacles they face, where hundreds of women’s stories could be shared, feelings vented, fun had, minds influenced and hearts expanded.

In response to an overwhelming demand Southbank Centre has been fostering a growing global network of festivals. Jude has now established an independent WOW Foundation to grow this network into the future.

The ethos of WOW is to create a festival for everyone. It is bold and broad-based in its approach, both lively and serious, and feeds the demand to discuss anything and everything. It brings people together from all corners of society - both speakers and audience members - energising and providing the inspiration and tools to make change.



WOW was first staged as part of the Sydney Writers’ Festival in 2013. It has since taken place in Katherine in the Northern Territory in 2013, 2014 and 2016, in Brisbane in 2015 and in Melbourne in 2017.

Brisbane-based non-profit company Of One Mind works in partnership with Southbank Centre and now the WOW Foundation to facilitate the delivery of WOW Festivals, either alone or through other Australian venues and arts organisations. Of One Mind’s mission is to develop and support cultural activities that address or communicate pressing social issues. Of One Mind creates and delivers events, builds networks and partnerships to support its goals and assists the development of individual artists and arts organisations.



The most recent WOW events in Australia were WOW at Festival 2018 in Brisbane – A Celebration of the Women of the Commonwealth as part of the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in March 2018 and the year before in March 2017 at Footscray Community Arts Centre, focused on the lives of and stories from women in the western suburbs of Melbourne.