Ep. 31: Massachusetts Musicians Produce Inclusive Music Festival

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Mara Penatzer and Cait Simpson are creative partners who co-founded Dwellings Arts, a non- profit dedicated to creating arts events that center work by artists who identify as women, non- binary, LGBTQ+, and/or POC; providing artist resources and paid performance opportunities; safe(r) workplaces in the performing arts; and financially accessible workshops/retreats/ residencies and professional development for artists. They perform together in music/poetry projects The Greys and Dirty Words.

Mara studied jazz piano performance at the University of North Texas and composition at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She is a faculty member in piano and composition at the Community Music School of Springfield, a teaching artist for CMSS’s El Sistema-inspired Sonido Musica program, and a piano accompanist for various ensembles/recitals at the music school. In addition to performing currently with The Greys and Dirty Words and as a solo pianist, she toured and recorded with hip hop theater project Mixed-Race Mixtape. She is currently pursuing a master’s degree in clinical social work.

Cait is a performance artist and writer living in Northampton, MA with her partner and small gaggle of pets. She is the vocalist and 1/2 of the writing team of jazz inspired indie rock group The Greys. She also performs with her spoken word/original music group Dirty Words. She has experience in organizing events and fundraisers as well as advocating through creative works. She works a day job but can otherwise be found focusing her energies on her new non-profit Dwellings Arts and writing her first book- also called Dirty Words.

Topics discussed:

  • Having another job to support music career
  • Connecting social work, gender studies and music
  • Experiencing sexism at gigs
  • The financial and psychological impact of sexism
  • How to be an ally
  • The importance of having conversations
  • How age plays into power dynamics
  • The true potential of diversity
  • Starting a non-profit
  • Producing a festival with workshops
  • How performance anxiety affects your life
  • Creating an anthology from the festival
  • Building the arts community you want to see

Resources & names mentioned:

Connect with Mara & Cait:




[email protected] 


Thanks for listening and keep thriving!


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