Women & Creativity: Harwood Art Center & Littleglobe

Many people know that March is Women’s History Month, but how many arts organizations succeed in engaging their whole community in the celebration? Every March, two organizations in Albuquerque New Mexico, Harwood Art Center and Littleglobe, do just that. They host a month-long program called Women & Creativity that celebrates women in the arts, science, technology, and other disciplines.

Not only does this program highlight the innovative work of women in the creative fields, it also seeks to strengthen the local community. With 35 local and regional partners and over 70 events, you can find Women & Creativity programming in theaters, galleries, performance spaces, retail businesses, parks, and in neighborhoods throughout Albuquerque. Each year the programming brings together 100 presenters and artists, including many international visual, performing, and teaching artists as well as writers, and creative entrepreneurs.

How does Women & Creativity engage so many collaborators each year? Much of the participation is due to the longstanding expertise and connections of its three co-coordinators: Dr. Shelle Sanchez; Director of Organizational Expansion at the Escuela del Sol & Harwood Art Center, Valerie Martinez; Director of Littleglobe; and Julia Mandeville; Chief Programs Officer at Harwood Art Center. Women & Creativity holds open calls for partners across all disciplines - artists, business coaches, writers, book artists, and many more. Striving to give every woman a voice, the program sometimes directly chooses underrepresented women so they may have a platform to share their stories with the community.

This year’s celebration is particularly special for Women & Creativity as it marks the program’s ten year anniversary. To commemorate this milestone, Women & Creativity has partnered with individuals and organizations throughout the community to organize “Ten for the Tenth,” 10 curated collaborations featuring the work of women across various creative disciplines. The project has introduced new collaborations beyond individual organizations and artist participants such as a 30-day collective exploration, “What Moves You?,” coordinated by the Albuquerque Balloon Museum.  The presentation has united creative efforts from women across industries with interactive exploratory stations from a myriad of different fields.

Women & Creativity has strengthened Albuquerque by providing the community with continued exposure to the arts and organizations with which they may not otherwise have become familiar. Women & Creativity has supported the growth and development of professional relationships between artists and partnering organizations—ninety percent of partnering organizations return each year!  Often these relationships lead to community projects and large-scale collaborations. Artists in particular benefit from the programming, gaining continued promotion.

Over the past ten years, Women & Creativity has continued to have a positive impact on the community, as demonstrated by overall growth in attendance, editorial coverage, website visitation, and social media traction. Since its founding 10 years ago, Woman & Creativity has featured at least one-thousand presenters and artists. 

So, where is Women & Creativity heading in the future? The program will continue focus on strengthening their local community, but founder Dr. Shelle Sanchez says there are plans to broaden and expand future collaborations to a regional or national level. Sanchez notes, “Our coordinating team has ideas and sparks of vision about the next decade, but our success to date has been built on collaboration and collective work. Those same things will be our starting points to move forward.”

Photo Caption: Women & Creativity Kick Off at Encompass. Mercedez Holtry, ABQ Slam Champion and ABQ Women of the World Slam Champion.