(UPDATE 3/14): Organizers for Chicago’s planned new Versa festival have canceled the event. “Unfortunately, due to unforeseen circumstances, VERSA Festival will not be taking place in Chicago this June,” organizers said in a statement. “All ticket purchases will be fully refunded. Stay tuned for future updates.” A rep for the festival did not immediately reply to a request on the reason behind the cancellation.
Weaving live music, comedy and inspirational speakers together to appear across five stages over the weekend, Versa bills itself as the first major women-led multi-day festival in more than two decades. Kim Petras, Monica, Mon Laferte, Jamila Woods, Young M.A, Ingrid Andress, Yuna, Big Freedia, Yendry, Laura Jane Grace, Salem Ilese, Deb Never, Madame Gandhi, Lila Iké, Adeline, Vagabon, Coco & Breezy, Lillie Mae, and Tia Wood are among the musical performers.
On the comedy side, Chelsea Handler, Ilana Glazer, Fortune Feimster, Patti Harrison, Aida Rodriguez, Dulcé Sloan, and Sydnee Washington will perform standup, along with improv appearances from The Second City’s ensemble. The event also features a Versa Ball. Hosted by ballroom historian Legendary Leggoh JohVera, the ball will celebrate drag and ballroom culture.
Alongside the performances, the weekend will include inspirational speakers, including Gloria Steinem. Programmed by documentary filmmaker Dyllan McGee, who also serves as a Versa executive producer, the programming topics include entertainment, health and wellness, sports, social action and entrepreneurship.
C3 (Lollapalooza, Austin City Limits) veteran Charlie Jones’ Four Leaf Productions is behind the festival. Last year, Jones told Rolling Stone that one of the driving forces behind the festival led by (and catering to) women is to open doors and elevate others. “We’re going to be paying attention to how we communicate with people, how we hire, how we contract, how we pay people,” Jones said of how his all-women partners and team have approached the endeavor. “‘Empowerment’ feels like an empty word, but ‘financial empowerment’ is not, and I’m focused on that. And that’s how we’re treating anybody that gets hired to perform or work on the event.”
Tickets are on sale now.