Art Empowered


Airdate: April 11, 2019

Natalie Frazier Allen is founder and executive director of The Arts Empowerment Project, a non-profit organization which provides funding to connect court-involved and at-risk children to high-quality existing arts programs. Natalie formerly served as Family Division Policy Counsel and as Chief of the Domestic Violence Unit in the Attorney General’s Office for the District of Columbia. She serves on the board of directors of The Mint Museum and has previously served on the boards of the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African American Arts + Culture and the Women’s Impact Fund. Natalie earned a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Spelman College, and a J.D. from The George Washington University National Law Center.

This episode is perfect for anyone interested in connecting at-risk children to the arts and finding one’s way back to childhood passions.   


  • Natalie describes the mission and work of The Arts Empowerment Project.

  • She explains Adverse Childhood Experiences, the toxic stress it often causes in adulthood, and how the arts help people who have experienced trauma.

  • She shares a story of a student who flourished after being exposed to the arts.

  • Natalie answers why the work of The Arts Empowerment Project matters.

  • She reflects on growing up in a working-class neighborhood in Queens, New York, what was most important in her family, and being a rule-follower.

  • Natalie shares what she loved about attending Spelman College and what being in the AKA sorority means to her.

  • She explains why practicing law in Washington D.C. was a dream come true and why she left the law.

  • Natalie reflects on how The Arts Empowerment Project came about, and the importance of family and faith in her life.

plus Mark’s Personal Word Essay: The Disquieting Muses of the Space-Time Continuum

To Learn More About Natalie


  • What struck you about Natalie’s comments?

  • What were your childhood passions?

  • How have the arts helped you heal?

  • How has your career and personal passions combined?

We invite your posts on our Facebook page.

This episode is sponsored by Blumenthal Performing Arts, celebrating its 25th year presenting the best in performing arts. 

Further support is provided by Charlotte Mecklenburg Library, one of America’s leading urban public libraries, delivering exceptional services and programs, with a mission to improve lives and build a stronger community. 

And by the Arts & Science Council, Charlotte-Mecklenburg's resource hub and lead advocate for the regional cultural community, providing Culture for All.

Additional support is provided by the UNC College of Arts + Architecture, celebrating a decade of creative education in the arts and design.