Celebrating the Western Imagination through the Arts
The Western States Arts Federation (WESTAF) is a regional nonprofit arts service organization whose mission is to strengthen the financial, organizational, and policy infrastructure of the arts in the West. This is accomplished by assisting state arts agencies, arts organizations, and artists in their quest to serve diverse audiences, enrich the lives of local communities, and provide access to the arts and arts education for all citizens. Through innovation, advocacy, and grantmaking, WESTAF encourages the creative development and preservation of the arts regionally and through a national network of customers and alliances.
Founded in 1974, WESTAF is located in Denver and governed by a 22-member board of trustees comprised of arts leaders in the West. The organization serves the largest constituent territory of the six U.S. regional arts organizations that includes the state arts agencies, artists, and arts organizations of Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawai’i, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming.
WESTAF is engaged in several projects designed to increase the region's capacity for advocacy aimed at advancing public support for the arts in the West. Twice annually, executive directors of western state arts agencies meet to discuss ways to move support for these agencies forward. WESTAF’s annual Arts Leadership and Advocacy Seminar brings a small group of arts leaders from the West to Washington, DC to meet with members of Congress and to engage in briefings regarding the status and future prospects for federal arts support. WESTAF also provides advocacy support to state and local arts agencies throughout the region, including assistance in funding advocacy work in the states and developing effective advocacy messaging.
WESTAF regularly convenes experts and leaders from a variety of fields both inside and outside the arts to address critical issues that affect arts and culture. In 2014, WESTAF held its 15th annual cultural policy symposium, Creativity and Innovation in Public Education: Areas of Need, Mechanisms for Change. The symposium brought together scholars and practitioners for a lively discussion on the research and policy work needed to advance creativity and innovation in public education. Learn more by visiting the Advocacy and Policy section of the site.
WESTAF is an experienced research organization that regularly initiates research projects to benefit the state arts agencies of the West as well as the broader arts community. WESTAF’s most recent major research project is the Creative Vitality™ Suite (CVSuite™), a research-based economic development tool that provides high quality creative economy data and reporting. Read more about the CVSuite on our Research and Publications page.
WESTAF is also an experienced developer of technology systems that benefit the arts and creative industries. Learn more about WESTAF's eight distinct offerings by visiting our Technology page.
As a progressive and evolving organization, WESTAF initiates new programs and projects regularly and is proud to have artists, musicians, and arts administrators on staff. WESTAF remains committed to the improvement of the the capacity and quality of public funding of the arts by the state arts agencies of the West. Position papers, advisory research, and professional development services are regularly provided to these agencies. WESTAF is funded in part by the National Endowment for the Arts.