Idle Women is an arts and social justice project that creates vibrant and adventurous spaces with and for all women.

Collette in Church
Photo: Dana Popa, Architects of women's place 2015

About our principles and priorities

Idle Women works with principles of co-creation and collaboration within complex social-political contexts and outside formal institutional settings.

We aim to build creative sustainable spaces for women that cant be cut, closed down or taken away by anyone.

We deliver a seasonal programme of free opportunities for women to get involved through public workshops, social gatherings and activities, and long-term outreach projects in partnership with specialist service providers.

Based in North West England, Idle Women are currently delivering projects in the post-industrial towns of Blackburn, Nelson and Accrington and by invitation in other places.

Idle Women was formed on the following principles:

  • To create space for all women to belong
  • To work locally, but influence nationally
  • To stay small and strong
  • To work for long term sustainability
  • To establish local partnerships that create mutual benefits 
  • To own the resources 
  • To work beyond the Institution
  • To transform

Idle Women’s artistic priorities are:

  • To develop long term research-led projects grown from context, location and collaboration
  • To develop creative projects that are ambitious and raise expectations 
  • To achieve high quality artistic practice, process and production 
  • To create paid opportunities for women
  • To raise the profile of (under-represented) female artists 
  • To contribute towards structural change for women working in the arts sector
  • To generate high quality involvement for ‘non’-artists 
  • To deliver critical reflection and contextual discussion through publications and other means.
  • To create artistic transformation 

Idle Women’s social priorities are:

  • To create dedicated women’s spaces, especially for those who face the most barriers to belonging  
  • To offer paid employment opportunities as well as encourage women to provide goods and services as part of a sustainable gift economy
  • To build confidence by encouraging women to try new things  
  • To provide additional support for women to live independently (and exit cycles of violence) 
  • To encourage women to take an informed and active role in their own physical and mental health 
  • To develop cross-sector  working and opportunities
  • To always work with an informed analysis of systematic violence against women and girls 
  • To break the cycle of pathologising and self-blame that often accompanies women’s trauma. 
  • To create social transformation
derelict building from canal
Photo: Dana Popa, Architects of women's place 2015

Gift Economy

idle women offer activities without charge but with principles of gift economy. Our gift of free access to resources and activities is based on the responsibility that comes with gifting. Mostly we ask women to show up, show kindness to other women, to contribute as much as they take and at some point perhaps to exchange or offer their knowledge and time to other women through idle women or elsewhere.