Calico is a female-led arts and activism social enterprise, using theatre, film and virtual reality (VR) to combat gendered violence. This creative start-up has been set up by University of Birmingham graduates Daz Scott and Martha Harrison. Their work is co-created with communities, aiming to listen, respond, and reshape our world. 

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Daz and Martha's Story:  

Calico foundersWe founded Calico in direct response to a series of gendered violence-related incidents. Sarah Everard was murdered, and media responses suggested that Sarah should’ve ‘flagged down a bus’ or been more ‘street wise’ to avoid being attacked. We (and our community) were outraged by this narrative. In May 2021, we were commissioned to create a short film, Curfew, which explored the issue of public street harassment, and imagined all the weird and wonderful things we could do if public spaces were safe for everyone. Curfew was picked up by the West Midlands Combined Authority and appeared in the evidence base for Transport for West Midland’s VAWG reduction strategy, presented to the Department for Transport. We have since been commissioned to co-create bespoke live versions of Curfew with community groups around the UK. We have most recently started building Curfew VR, a Virtual Reality training tool for safer public spaces  

Curfew VR is a revolutionary project that responds to a pressing societal issue: the pervasive fear that one in two women experience when walking alone in public spaces (stat from the Office of National Statistics). We recognise that this fear not only affects women's feelings of safety but also their choices and behaviour in these spaces. Victim blaming and microaggressions further exacerbate this issue. To address this challenge, Curfew VR employs innovative technology to unbound empathy in decision-makers who govern public spaces. The project harnesses the power of VR to simulate real-life scenarios and act as a mirror of our reality, giving users a visceral understanding of the psychological impact of victim-blaming, microaggressions, and the inherent fear of the femme experience, and how these can impact women’s choices and behaviour in public space. To represent the reality of this experience, Curfew VR is being co-created with diverse community groups of women aged 16-70, through partnerships with Birmingham City Council, Solihull Borough Council, West Midlands Police, Transport for West Midlands and the University of Birmingham.  

Our mission is clear: we aim to transform society's approach to and conversation about gendered violence. Creative innovation drives this transformation. 

We are actively seeking partnerships with public and private organisations that operate in public spaces, such as transport providers, police forces, city councils, nightclub and pub owners, and more. If you are interested in learning more about our VAWG training programme featuring Curfew VR, reach out to us by emailing Together, we can create safer, more inclusive public spaces for everyone. 


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