Backstage with Women in The Arts

Betty Hart performs a scene from Arvada Center's "The Mountaintop" at CBCA's 2016 Business for the Arts Awards Luncheon. Photo Steve Peterson

Did you know that cultural nonprofits alone generate $1.8 billion in economic activity and employ nearly 11,000 people in the Denver metro area? From museums and theaters to art galleries and music venues, the creative industries are a formidable business sector in the Denver metro area.

Join the Colorado Women’s Chamber of Commerce (CWCC) and the Colorado Business Committee for the Arts (CBCA) to explore the nuances that are unique to being a professional woman in the arts.  Women have been on the leading-edge in Denver’s creative sector, launching successful businesses, forging intrepid careers, and inspiring others along the way. Panelists will share their own experiences and speak to the intersection of culture and commerce.

Appetizers, beverages, and creative exploration will be provided. Bring an open mind.

Musical guests: Mile High String Quartet
Networking activity Creating Your Character: Athena Project

*If you’re not a CWCC Member, you can still register as a guest and identify as a CBCA Member. 


Angela Astle (Moderator)

Executive Producer, Athena Project

Angela Astle is the proud creator and Executive Producer of Athena Project, the Denver based nonprofit whose mission is to empower women in the arts. Founded in 2011, Athena Project produces an annual month long arts festival featuring visual arts, theatre, music, and dance created by women. The organization has grown to include summer art camps for girls in 6th-10th grade, and numerous invitations to provide programming for some of Denver’s most respected organizations such as TEDx, The Women’s Foundation, Denver Center for Performing Arts, Colorado Business Committee for the Arts, and others.

Wende Curtis

CEO, Comedy Works

Wende Curtis started out as a cocktail server while in college at Comedy Works 31 years ago and continued to rise through the ranks to management and then as its eventual owner/proprietor in 2001. Wende expanded Comedy Works to a second DTC Denver location in 2008 – both clubs now greet over 250,000 patrons annually. USA Today and other industry insiders have ranked Comedy Works as one of the top comedy clubs anywhere. In 2006, Comedy Works and Wende were recognized by the prestigious Downtown Denver Partnership for growing a national recognized comedy club which continually enhanced the appeal of Downtown Denver as an entertainment destination. In 2012, the Denver Business Journal honored Wende with its lifetime achievement award for women in business. In 2014, Comedy Works and Wende were recognized as the outstanding business of the year for a Women/Minority owned business by the Metro Denver Chamber of Commerce. But most of all, every comedian in the business wants to work for Curtis’ two clubs, and Curtis’ name is known industry wide as the best operator in the business. That’s the most satisfying of all accolades.

Barbara Lewis

Owner, Lewis Art Consulting and ARTPRO

Barbara Lewis has been a corporate art consultant for 20 years. She owns and operates two businesses; Lewis Art Consulting and ARTPRO, both dedicated to creating remarkable spaces for corporate, healthcare and hospitality environments. Her dedication and passion for the art and design industry extends to her commitment to supporting the arts through; volunteering, membership and participation in non-profit arts organizations including serving on the board of Colorado Business Committee for the Arts (currently serving her 2nd term).

Bianca Mikahn

Artivist, Educator, Performer, Youth On Record, Check Your Head

Bianca Mikahn is a power-house emcee, poet, digital composer, cultural activist and educator who wears many hats here in Denver. She is Executive Director of youth mental health based non-profit Check Your Head and a Partner Artist with leading creative educators, Youth On Record. Bianca’s writing style is described as experimental and thought-provoking, fearlessly addressing themes of self awareness and community engagement. Her stage presence and lyrical content have earned her multiple nominations for “Best Emcee” in the Denver Westword, and she has shared stages at Regis University, Denver University, Wyoming University and will feature in Denver Center for the Performing Art's upcoming sensation "Breakin Conventions". Utilizing experience directing competitive poetry teams SLamNUBA and Mercury Cafe, Bianca recently directed sold out multi-show run for production "How I Got Over" at Denver Center for the Performing Arts, and has performed abroad at locations such as Stockholm Sweden's historical Flykengin Theater. Currently Mikahn is honing social emotional learning through art based facilitation to encourage trauma informed care and Mental Health First Aid (adult and youth modules) in under-served communities.

Darlene C. Ritz, EdD

Owner, DCR Studios and Chair of the Fashion Design, Rocky Mountain College of Art + Design

Dr. Darlene C. Ritz has designed in New York City, Los Angeles, San Diego, Tokyo, Toronto, and many other cities. Dr. Ritz, a Colorado native, returned to her home state in 2014 to launch the Fashion Design department at Rocky Mountain College of Art + Design. As a scholar/practitioner, Darlene continues to practice her craft and inspire the next generation of industry professionals. DCR Studios began as a way to inspire students to take chances and branch into independent collection.

Janice Sinden

President & CEO, Denver Center for the Performing Arts

Janice Sinden joined the Denver Center for the Performing Arts (DCPA) as President & CEO in September 2016, leading the largest non-profit theatre organization in the nation.

The diversity of Janice’s career path has allowed her to support rich cultural experiences, access to education, and community involvement through her interest in politics. Before the DCPA, she served as Chief of Staff for Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock for five years. During this time, she was a part of numerous projects that aimed to support the creative community in Denver, including IMAGINE 2020, and The Next Stage. Previously, she served as the Executive Director of Colorado Concern; co-founded Pinnacle Public Affairs cofounded EPIC (Executives Partnering to Invest in Children); and co-led the effort to establish the Colorado Foreclosure Hotline. Her love for community building and public service sparked after her graduation from the University of Northern Colorado when she moved to Washington, D.C. to work for then U.S. Senator Wayne Allard.

Janice has been recognized by 5280 magazine as one of the 50 most influential people in Denver, by the Colorado Women’s Foundation as one of the 25 most influential women in Colorado, by the Girl Scouts of Colorado as a Woman of Distinction, and by the University of Northern Colorado Department of Political Science and International Affairs as Distinguished Alumnus of the Year. She currently serves on the boards of the national Performing Arts Centers Consortium, Visit Denver, the University of Northern Colorado, the American Transplant Foundation, the Denver Preschool Program, Executives Partnering to Invest in Children, and Mental Health Colorado. Previously, she was appointed by Governors Owens and Ritter to serve on the Colorado Creative Industries Council, which invests in Colorado’s artistic workforce so creative entrepreneurs and enterprises will flourish.

Bobbi Walker

Owner, Walker Fine Art

Bobbi Walker founded Walker Fine Art in 1999, the gallery is located in the Prado Highrise of the Golden Triangle Museum District.

She has been actively involved in the Denver arts community for 16 years, serving on the Denver Commission on Cultural Affairs for the last 5 years.

She is a Young Associates member of the Denver Art Museum (DAM), and has served on the Board of the DAM Contemporaries, MCA Heart Club of the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver (MCA) and the 1944 Society of the Clyfford Still Museum.

She served as President of the Denver Art Dealers Association (DADA) for 3 years. And has served on the boards of the Golden Triangle Museum District (GTMD) the Golden Triangle Neighborhood Association (GTA).

She is a member of the Women’ Chamber of Commerce, Colorado Business Community for the Arts (CBCA),Arts for Colorado, Visit Denver, Redline, Denver Film Society and the Downtown Denver Partnership.