At a time when the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) is on the chopping block and arts funding continues to deteriorate, I’m compelled to highlight the impact of art. Thanks to organizations like the Colorado Business Committee for the Arts, we can cite data showing the economic impact of art on communities, but art’s social impact is much more powerful than dollars and numbers. Statistics can highlight economic value, but nothing is more powerful than using art to tell a story in a compelling way. And it takes creativity to do so.

There are many ways to utilize art forms to tell stories with impact.  Whether it’s live theatre, dance, or a visual art piece, art is a retelling of how we view the world and how we view each other.  Art reveals an individual’s personal experience and collectively, the experiences of a community. Sharing personal experiences builds empathy. This is a powerful place from which to foster understanding and garner attention. Personal experience trumps “alternative facts,” and changes the way we view the world. When we build empathy, society grows stronger and richer.

The ability to connect lives and see the world through another person’s eyes is at the core of what Athena Project does. Athena Project highlights the work of female artists as they are underrepresented in all disciplines. Through art and storytelling, we bring awareness to an issue while creating empathy. And we celebrate the art itself as a way to connect us and foster understanding.

Angela Astle is the Executive Producer and Founder of Denver-based Athena Project. Athena Project’s mission is to embrace, encourage, and empower female artists by highlighting their work in an annual arts festival as well as pop up performances throughout the year. We also offer summer camp programs in various art disciplines for girls in 6th-10th grade. Visit AthenaProjectFestival.org for more information. #AthenaInAction