Alexandra Harper is the founder of Women of culture, a NYC based art community aiming at bringing women together to experience the power of the arts through events in New York like the upcoming Sweet Summer Soiree, weekends such as Labor Day weekend in Newport, RI and even in Los Angeles.
Founded 3.5 years ago and with over 50 events held to date, the success of her community proves that Alexandra is not the only woman with a “desire to get out and experience the rich art scene that is the lifeblood of this city”. Her goal is to be an advocate of “the importance of the arts and creativity in society, helping to create a more connected, fair and equal world” and a supporter of women artists through her events and the articles published on her blog. Alexandra shares about how she founded Women of Culture, her dreams and challenges and of course how to join an event! Thanks, Alexandra for sharing your passion.
When and how did you come up with the creation of Women of culture?
I started Women of Culture almost 4 years ago out of the desire to become more involved in the arts and to build a community of like-minded women. I had been living in NYC for over 10 years, but I was feeling a bit lost, lonely and unsatisfied with my personal life and career.
After doing some extensive soul-searching, I realized I felt a lack of sisterhood and true female camaraderie in my life. I have long believed that female friendships are of the utmost importance, but I struggled to meet women in NYC who I felt deeply connected to. I also realized the arts were the one thing I had come back to, time after time, whenever I had felt lonely or disconnected in the past. Becoming more involved in the arts & culture scene in NYC had helped me feel more at home in the city and had given me a sense of purpose for enduring the hardships that exist when living here.
I realized that, beyond just making new friends who were interested in the arts, I wanted to help others – especially women. I wanted to help them feel more connected to themselves, one another and this amazing city. I have always loved planning events and bringing people together, so starting the community came somewhat naturally to me.
I held my first event in 2015 at the Joyce Theater, one of my favorite cultural institutions. Since then, I have created over 50 cultural outings, panel discussions, trips and workshops all designed to help women bring more art into their lives while also connecting the community.
The awareness about the place of women in culture is increasing and an initiative like yours is an example. Who are the members of your community? Why do they join?
The community is open to anyone who identifies as a woman and has interest in meeting new people and learning more about the arts. The members come from all walks of life and represent a wide range of ages, races, socioeconomic and professional backgrounds. The majority tend to be professionals in their early 30‘s and 40’s who have some interest in the arts but aren’t necessarily experts or aficionados. I think most join because they are looking for the same sort of camaraderie and sisterhood I was looking for when I started the community.
Can you tell us about the different events you organize? How do you choose the themes of the events?
My goal for every Women of Culture event is to include three essential elements: an arts or culture experience, an opportunity to socialize and bond with other women, and a way to learn something new about the artist or art form which we are experiencing. Also, I have a secondary mission: I want to promote female artists and try to focus on and give voice to the many amazing women in the art world whenever possible.
I am also passionate about giving attendees a chance to hear from the artist or creator so they can understand and engage with the work on a deeper level. I also work to keep events varied between both performing and visual arts because I want to help members gain exposure to a wide variety of art forms and viewpoints.
Most events focus on a particular show, performance or exhibit happening in the city, and I build the full experience around that. I have also produced panels, workshops and artist showcases around themes I believe are important and of value to the community, such as women’s empowerment and getting in touch with our creativity.
What is/ are your dream project(s)?
Women of Culture is a dream project, but I also dream of growing and expanding the community. Reason being is that I want to help more women on a national (or even global scale) become more connected to themselves, one another and the arts.
I also just this month hosted my first Women of Culture event in LA, which was a goal of mine because I love that city and am excited to get more involved in the art scene there. Our next LA event is on July 16th, and I’m so excited to continue helping women in that city to deepen their personal connections and engagement with the arts.
I am also currently investigating the benefits of bringing the arts and creativity into the workplace to help create community and increase productivity. I would love to be part of changing the current corporate paradigm so that it is more creative and community-oriented, thereby increasing employee happiness and engagement. There are far too many people, like myself a few years ago, who are disengaged and unhappy in their jobs, and I would like to play a role in changing this.
My long-term vision is to be an advocate for the importance of the arts and creativity in society, helping to create a more connected, fair and equal world. I think that our current society has become off-balance in its prioritization of consumerism and competition, so my dream is to be a part of elevating the role of both women and artists in order to re-balance the system.
What do you like the most about your work? what are the challenges?
I absolutely love being able to bring people together, especially women, whom might never have otherwise meet and see the connections that develop. It has been so gratifying to see women in the community make new connections and discover new artists, art forms and ideas through the events. There is a magic that happens when you bring together smart, curious and cultured women, and it is amazing to be able to facilitate and witness that.
I think one of the biggest challenges for me has been trying to create something totally new that doesn’t really exist in the world. Entrepreneurship and the arts are very connected in that both are about trying to create something out of nothing, and this is very different than my corporate career in which there were always set rules and expectations to follow. Entrepreneurship is about envisioning a future that doesn’t exist and then trying to get other people to buy into and believe in that vision, which can be difficult. As a naturally shy and introverted person, it has been a challenge to even have the confidence and courage to show my vision to the world and also to continue to stand behind it, especially when many people don’t fully understand why I believe it’s important. But, I am working everyday to further develop the clarity and confidence to continue sharing my work.
Any favorite place that you like to visit in NYC?
So, so many! In addition to being an art-lover, I am a nature lover, so a visit to Central Park or my neighborhood Fort Greene park always makes me happy. I also love exploring different neighborhoods like the Lower East Side and Bushwick which are so vibrant and full of art both indoors and out. As far as the performing arts, the Joyce Theater in Chelsea will always have a special place in my heart because it has helped me discover and fall in love with a wide variety of contemporary dance companies.
How to join?
Most events are open to the public and tickets can be purchased per event. But official members get the most benefit from the community by gaining access to a private Facebook group, members-only events and invites to exclusive art events at cultural institutions around the city. More information can be found on our website here: www.womenofculture.org/membership.