Alexandra Harper, Founder of Women of Culture
Alexandra, aka Alex, is the founder of Women of Culture, a community bringing women together to cnnekt through every form of art. Alex is passionate about dance, but keeps the programming for the community well-versed and exciting for attendees. Learn more about the power of the arts, community, and paving your own path in today’s Spotlight below.
Alexandra, what does “community” mean to you?
Community means a sense of belonging and feeling connected and supported. It is a feeling of camaraderie in knowing that you are not alone and that other people share your values. But, that doesn’t mean you have to be the ‘same’ as others — it just indicates that there is some level of commonality and understanding among all parties involved.
And how did that influence you to create Women of Culture? Was there a gap you were seeing?
I started Women of Culture three years ago because I was feeling lonely and lacking that sort of camaraderie in my own life. I had been living in NYC for almost 12 years, and hadn’t yet been able to find my ‘tribe.’ I had a lot of acquaintances, but I wanted to find kindred spirits with whom I could share experiences which engaged and inspired me.
I did some research and found a lot of professional networking organizations for women, as well as some for women in the arts, but nothing that was focused on community and building authentic connections through sharing a common interest or experience — beyond just going to a bar or cocktail party.
I have long felt that shared experiences create true and lasting bonds, so I saw that there was an opportunity to create something that would encourage women to connect on a deeper level, while simultaneously celebrating and elevating the the arts.
We know you are passionate about the arts, but which type of art speaks to you and why?
I really do love all types of art, and that’s why I have made an effort to keep Women of Culture’s programming varied between visual and performing arts, as there often seems to be an unnecessary separation between the two. But I always say that my first and lasting art ‘drug’ of choice is dance.
I grew up dancing through college, and dance will probably always be my favorite art form. At its best, it incorporates so many different things together: movement, lighting, music, theater, visual art — and of course, the human body.
How is art influencing grass root movements and becoming a powerful tool in the political sector?
Art can transcend language barriers and cultural differences because it is truly a universal language. It is one of the best tools to convey complex ideas (and messages) because it goes beyond reason to tap into feelings and emotion, which are so much more powerful.
It is an amazing tool for grassroots movements because it can powerfully communicate their essence to a large volume of people at a relatively low cost.
In building a growing business and community, what have been some challenges you’ve encountered? And what about the most rewarding?
I think one of the biggest challenges has been that I’m trying to create something totally new and that doesn’t really exist in the world — so there is no model or path for me to follow. Entrepreneurship and the arts are very connected because both are about trying to create something out of nothing. It’s about envisioning a future that doesn’t exist and then trying to get other people to buy into and believe in that vision as well. 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 to continue and stand behind it.
On a larger scale, the most rewarding part of growing a business is when you find people who naturally understand and subscribe to your vision. 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.
What is the next milestone you’re looking for?
I am currently in the process of re-launching Women of Culture as Artfull in the Fall in order to bring the power of the arts to a wider audience, including corporations and private group clients. The mission of Artfull will be to bridge the gap between art, businesses, artists and audiences - bringing all closer together through carefully curated experiences, workshops and trips.
We also will seek to be a resource for artists and art institutions, helping them to reach new and engaged audiences, and for companies, to create more loyal and productive teams. We will simultaneously continue to promote the importance of women’s communities and position Artfull as a call to action to engage with and celebrate that which connects us to the essence of our human nature: the arts.
In the near term, we have some amazing Women of Culture experiences coming up this summer, and we will also be holding our first LA-based event in June!
Interviewed by Chary