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Countless women have used art as a means of self-empowerment — from the protest songs of Nina Simone and Billie Holiday to the feminist paintings of artists like Frida Kahlo and Mary Cassatt. Female artists haven’t kept that power to themselves, however. Rather, women have channeled female empowerment into their communities. There, female artists form strategic partnerships that allow them to make a positive difference, not only for artists but for the community at large.
Community involvement is a powerful way to give back and improve the lives of women and girls. Cross-sector community-based work also increases the relevance of the arts in the local community, expanding opportunities for artists and arts organizations.
How can empowered women contribute to the larger conversation? These ideas tie together community development and the arts to create a better world for all.
- Make public art that promotes community good.
- Organize arts-based community events.
- Tell stories that inspire and empower.
- Get involved in creative placemaking efforts that improve the well-being of communities.
- Start a community-supported art program.
- Be a mentor to women and girls.
Leadership comes naturally to empowered women. Nonetheless, being a leader is challenging, and it’s important to take care of yourself first. Self-care nurtures a healthy body, mind, and self-esteem. Without a self-care practice, you may lose the capacity to give back.
It’s hard to wake up feeling clear-headed and creative if you’re surrounded by bad energy. Whether it’s tension with household members or your own scattered mind, clearing bad energy from your home creates an empowering start to every day. Decluttering, cleaning, and airing out your home create space for positive energy to flow in.
After tending to your home, address your next temple: your body. Staying physically healthy ensures you have the energy not only to create but to lead. This includes prioritizing quality sleep, eating wholesome foods, living an active lifestyle, and knowing when to stop and rest.
A healthy lifestyle keeps not just your muscles and bones healthy, but it also promotes a healthy brain too. Additional practices including meditation, breath awareness, and mind-body exercise help women manage stress and keep a positive outlook.
A major aspect of female empowerment is knowing what you want to accomplish and actively working towards it. Whether that’s personal and professional goals or a broader community effort, the ability to set goals and work towards them step-by-step is what sets leaders apart. This can be as simple as embarking on an educational journey to earn your bachelor’s or master’s degree online in a field that interests you. This may be a good option if you’re a busy parent with lots of responsibilities, as online programs let you learn at your own pace.
Women should aim high, but it’s equally important to keep goals achievable. Remember the S.M.A.R.T. acronym. Goals should be:
Rather than generally aiming to make a positive change in your community, consider specific things you want to accomplish. Do you want to increase community engagement? Promote safety through public art? Create opportunities for young artists? Make sure your goal meets a present need (or, in other words, that it’s relevant). Then, set metrics for tracking progress towards that goal and assess whether they’re attainable by your stated target date.
The arts can be a platform for transformative change, both for women themselves and the communities they inhabit. If you’ve found empowerment through the arts and are wondering how you can use that power to make a positive difference in the world, look around and ask how the arts can make your community a better place to live.