Leading Lady Number 2

In participation of National Women’s Month and the National Women’s History Project’s Weaving the Stories of Women’s Lives, C4 Atlanta would like to share story number two from our Leading Ladies series.

Everyone meet Selena Harper.

Where/who do you work for and what is your role?
I work for the City of Atlanta Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs, where I serve as the Project Supervisor for Contracts for Arts Services. I oversee funding programs, including our traditional grant program, our new neighborhood grant program and the crowd funding site power2give.org/Atlanta.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
As a child, I wanted to be a star…a singer. My father is a musician and everyone in my family is musically inclined, so I grew up going to practices and gigs with Dad, and listening to lots of old school r&b and rock at home.

Who was your favorite artist/writer/performer growing up?
Commercial Artist/Performer – Janet Jackson
Visual Artist – Modigliani and Elizabeth Catlett
Writer – Kahlil Gibran, Toni Morrison, Sonya Sanchez, Nikki Giovanni

Who has been/has had the biggest influence on your life? What lesson did the person teach you?
Without a doubt, my mom. I was born while she was finishing up her dissertation. She taught me the value of education and intellectualism and showed me that a woman could build both a career and a family.

When and how did you first become interested in the arts? How long have you been in your line of work?
Field trips during my childhood years really helped spark my appreciation for the arts and helped to form some of my fondest childhood memories. Growing into my teen years, my desire to express myself to deal with the complex emotions I was feeling really drove me to enjoy writing. I’ve been with the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs for over three years now.

How is art a passion for you?
Art and expression go hand in hand. I love the power that art has to convey a feeling or idea so succinctly, across languages and cultures. For me, writing is a passion because it helps me to clarify my thoughts and feelings. I also just really enjoy words and descriptors, characters and storytelling.

What are your thoughts on equality and representation of women in the arts?
I love the fact that we are at a point in time when women have the information and knowledge they need to contemplate their status and a seat at the table to discuss it. I love the promise that this fact holds. Society is at a pivotal time with regard to the advancement of women and I believe that things will continue to get better and better.

What in your profession has given you the greatest satisfaction or fulfillment? Looking back, what would you have done differently? What would you do again? selena2
I love meeting with the artists and representatives from the arts organizations we support and observing the work that my work is helping to support. I’m really pleased with the impact and reach that programs we’re helping to support are making in Atlanta. I wouldn’t do anything differently.

What most excites you about the arts in Atlanta?
Atlanta is a city with a great deal of potential and I believe the arts are going to be critical to Atlanta’s future positioning and development. The arts are hot in Atlanta!

What do you hope to contribute to the arts community in Atlanta?

I hope our efforts at program improvement have alleviated some of the “barriers to entry” that some artists and arts groups might have faced in thinking about whether or not the City’s funding opportunity was right for them.

Where can we go to find out more?
Website: www.ocaatlanta.com
Twitter: @AtlantaOCA
Facebook: City of Atlanta – Mayors Office of Cultural Affairs

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