INCLUSION & EQUITY
South Arts Emerging Leaders of Color Conference
WESTAF is excited to announce a major milestone in our partnership with South Arts on their inaugural Emerging Leaders of Color (ELC) program. WESTAF Manager of Social Equity and Inclusion Madalena Salazar, along with faculty members Salvador Acevedo and Margie Reese, led South Arts in building their ELC program online with a Southern focus. Participants were selected from approximately 100 applicants, and invitations were sent to 12 individuals from Alabama (2), Georgia (1), Kentucky (2), Louisiana (1), Mississippi (1), North Carolina (2), South Carolina (2) and Tennessee (1) in October. The virtual program will span three days—December 3, 4 and 9, 2020—and will feature lectures and interactive and social elements. WESTAF is grateful to have this opportunity to expand the ELC program through our partnership with South Arts.
SAA Performing Arts and Consortia Partners Convening 2020
In our ongoing effort to advance cultural equity and inclusion in the field, WESTAF invited Kaisha Johnson, founder and founding director of Women of Color in the Arts (WOCA), to lead a two-day, equity focused convening of the state arts agency performing arts network, performing arts consortia partners, and TourWest panelists. The purpose of the meeting, which took place on October 29 and 30, was to build community and facilitate active listening and authentic conversation while entering into deep work on implicit bias, institutional and structural racism, privilege, the distinction between equality and equity, and a range of other topics. Following a survey of the 18 participants, Johnson and WESTAF’s Social Responsibility and Inclusion team will meet to discuss future directions for this work with their regional performing arts network to build on the success of the convening.
ALLIANCES, ADVOCACY, & POLICY
Arts + the Rural West Virtual Workshop Session Report
WESTAF is pleased to present its newest publication, the Arts + the Rural West session report. The report features discussion summaries and transcripts from the April 3 Arts + the Rural West virtual workshop. A convening of 25 rural arts experts from across the region, Arts + the Rural West featured discussions on the impact of COVID-19; rural arts as a rural development strategy; ways that rural communities shape their arts and cultural life; resourcing arts and culture in rural areas; and the opportunities, needs, and challenges for arts in the rural West. We are excited to offer this new resource to the field and believe that the ideas and insights captured in this report have the potential to inform the advancement of arts and culture in rural communities in the West and beyond.
WESTAF Director of Impact and Public Policy David Holland was invited to develop and moderate a panel on “Grassroots Advocacy that’s Timely and Powerful” as part of the Arts Midwest + Western Arts Alliance (WAA) joint virtual performing arts conference Meeting the Moment. Together. The panel featured Julie Baker, Western Arts Advocacy Network (WAAN) co-chair and California Arts Advocates executive director; Heather Noonan, vice president of advocacy, League of American Orchestras and convener of the Cultural Advocacy Coalition; and Hal Real, founder and president, World Cafe Live, board chair of Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation, and board member of the National Independent Venue Association (NIVA). The panel explored lessons learned about grassroots arts advocacy during the pandemic, the effectiveness and impact of arts advocacy in these times, and the growing role of the commercial sector in arts advocacy. The pre-recorded panel, along with a virtual, real-time Q&A, aired on Wednesday, October 7 for conference attendees.
Creative Economy and Recovery Research Project
WESTAF is partnering with the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies (NASAA) and Indiana University Public Policy Institute (IUPUI) to produce a series of creative economy case studies, drawn from across the nation, that explore the potential contribution of the creative industries to economic recovery. Case studies from 15 states will be developed (12 by WESTAF and 3 by IUPUI), and the states currently selected for this research are Hawai’i, Arizona, Washington, Louisiana, Tennessee, Georgia, Massachusetts, Vermont, Maryland, West Virginia, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Nebraska, North Dakota, and Minnesota. We are looking forward to sharing this important research with the field this winter. The project involves analysis of CVSuite data as well as a series of interviews with regional experts to develop content for creative economy and recovery case studies.
At a time when we all could use some good news, WESTAF is excited to share these Stories of Resilience that showcase the ways artists, activists, and advocates in the region are addressing current and ongoing challenges, such as new programming, activism in the community, volunteerism, and other successful efforts that deserve recognition. These stories offer a chance to celebrate successes in the field as we overcome obstacles presented by the pandemic and advance equity and inclusion efforts. We hope these stories provide you with some inspiration and optimism during these difficult times.
Creative Vitality Suite
WESTAF’s CVSuite™ Releases the Top 10 Music Cities You Need to Know About
After much anticipation, the CVSuite™ has released the Top 10 Music Cities You Need to Know About, the second in its series of data-driven profiles celebrating the arts, culture, and creativity of America’s most vital and vibrant places and spaces. Following up on the 30 Most Creative Small Cities list released in spring, this second list showcases the thriving local music scenes of smaller cities across the country. WESTAF’s Creative Vitality Lists offer a snapshot of various trends within neighborhoods, regions, and states and filter, compare, and contrast creative economy data to highlight creative vitality in communities across the United States. Using data from WESTAF’s CVSuite creative economy data tool, the Creative Vitality™ Index (CVI™) was utilized to measure and rank the creative economies of Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) with populations under 500,000.
WESTAF BOARD OF TRUSTEES
October WESTAF Board Meeting
The WESTAF board of trustees met virtually October 28-29 for their annual meeting. The meeting included review and approval of the annual operating budget for the upcoming fiscal year, committee meetings, a new board member orientation, and an equity-focused workshop featuring staff and Equity and Inclusion Committee members-at-large. The trustee meeting was capped off by a virtual happy hour that included a fond farewell to departing trustees Joaquin Herranz, Jr., associate professor at the Evans School of Public Affairs, University of Washington, and Michael Faison, executive director of the Idaho Commission on the Arts.
WESTAF Regional Arts Resilience Fund
On Tuesday, October 27, with the approval of the WESTAF Executive Committee on behalf of the board of trustees, WESTAF announced the 39 organizations across the region that were selected to receive Regional Arts Resilience Fund grants. Awards were made in amounts ranging from $30,000 to $74,000, totalling over $1.7 million. This award was made available by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation in partnership with the U.S. Regional Arts Organizations, and was designed to mitigate the financial threat to the sector caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Twenty experts in the field of arts and culture met across two panels to help establish funding priorities. A full list of grantees and panelists can be found here. Disbursement of the funds began in November.
On August 10, WESTAF began accepting applications for the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Relief Fund for Organizations, a COVID-19 relief grant program supported by the National Endowment for the Arts. Managed by the WESTAF on behalf of the CNMI Arts Council, the grant provides general operating support between $5,000 and $20,000 to nonprofit arts and culture organizations impacted by the pandemic in the Northern Mariana Islands. Eligible 501(c)(3) cultural organizations in the Northern Mariana Islands may apply here. Applications are being accepted on a rolling basis. In the coming weeks, WESTAF will open a second CNMI CARES opportunity for individual artists. Artist relief funds will be made to individuals whose projects had been impacted by the effects of the pandemic. Funds will be awarded in the range of $2,500 to $5,000, on a first come, first served basis.
State Arts Agency Highlights
We are excited to share that the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies selected Colorado’s state arts agency, Colorado Creative Industries (CCI), to receive its inaugural Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Agency Award. This award recognizes state arts agencies that have fostered and developed diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in their work and shown insight and fortitude in advancing DEI across the state. The award was presented to CCI on October 22 during NASAA’s virtual Business Bash. Congratulations, CCI!
Upstart Co-Lab and Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors have partnered on The Guide: what cultural institutions need to know about investing for values and mission, which was released December 2. This is the first report on impact investing specifically for leaders of museums and other cultural institutions. The Guide answers common questions (What is Impact Investing? Does impact investing mean sacrificing financial return? Why do institutions engage in impact investing?), and offers a practical road map for exploring values-aligned and mission-related investing. The Guide shares lessons from first-mover cultural institutions, plus examples of impact investing opportunities in the creative economy.
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Division Leadership Transition
On October 9, Chrissy Deal, director of social responsibility and inclusion, stepped down from her role after seven years with WESTAF to direct the Livingston Fellowship Program and Arts and Social Change Grantmaking at the Bonfils-Stanton Foundation. Chrissy managed WESTAF’s highly regarded Emerging Leaders of Color program supporting the development of early-career professionals of color in the arts and cultural community throughout the western states. In this capacity, she convened BIPOC leaders to establish policies that support greater inclusion and equity for the communities from which they come and represent—locally, regionally and nationally. Through her work, she has built programs that engage leaders of color to create lasting and systemic change. “I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to learn from, support, and guide WESTAF’s efforts in advancing equity through inclusive leadership development, grantmaking, thought leadership, network-building, and internal capacity-building,” said Chrissy. “I treasure the many relationships established during my tenure and am honored to have worked alongside all the incredibly talented, generous, and dedicated professionals who are WESTAF over the past seven years. I look forward to celebrating their continued successes from my vantage point as a colleague, ally, and advocate for our collective work.”
David Holland Assumes Expanded Role as WESTAF Director of Impact and Public Policy
We are thrilled to report that our colleague David Holland will be assuming a more expansive role at WESTAF, under the newly revised title: director of impact and public policy. In addition to his current portfolio leading WESTAF’s Alliances, Advocacy and Public Policy (AAP) division and serving as an advisor to the Creative Vitality™ Suite team, he will also be responsible for the design, development, resourcing, implementation, and maintenance of the complete WESTAF program portfolio, which includes both the AAP and Social Responsibility and Inclusion (SRI) divisions. These responsibilities include the leadership of new programs and initiatives, strategies to maximize synergies among program areas to drive impact, and program evaluation and reporting. David will also supervise the work of the incoming director of social responsibility and inclusion. In this capacity, David will work in close collaboration with this team leader to build and execute WESTAF programs and services that proactively advance equity by supporting BIPOC leaders, rural leaders, and organizations serving underserved and under-resourced communities in the West. David’s deep knowledge and experience in all of this work coupled with his management skills will make WESTAF even more effective as we move into the future serving the people, the organizations and the places in our western states and beyond.
Christian Gaines Elected to NASAA Board of Directors
WESTAF Executive Director Christian Gaines has been elected to serve on the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies’ board of directors. As a member of NASAA’s board of directors, Christian will serve alongside a diverse and accomplished group of arts and cultural leaders from across the country. “We enthusiastically welcome Christian to the NASAA board,” said NASAA President and CEO Pam Breaux. “He brings a breadth of knowledge, a fierce commitment to serving the public, and genuine passion for the arts. We are eager to work with Christian and we welcome his expertise and guidance.” Christian said, “I am proud and humbled to represent the WESTAF organization, and by extension our western region as well as our sister regional arts organizations (RAOs), on the NASAA board.”
WESTAF Chair Tamara Mozahuani Alvarado Joins David and Lucile Packard Foundation
We are excited to announce that WESTAF board Chair Tamara Mozahuani Alvarado has joined the David and Lucile Packard Foundation’s Local Grantmaking Program as a program officer. Tamara now leads the Foundation’s cultural and civic investments in the Vibrant Communities portfolio for the Bay Area. The portfolio invests $4 million annually to advance creative, environmental, and civic organizations that connect people with art, nature, and their communities. Tamara previously served as executive director of the Leo M. Shortino Family Foundation in San José, California. She has held executive, board, and director positions at various local, regional and national arts and community organizations, including the School of Arts and Culture at Mexican Heritage Plaza; the Multicultural Arts Leadership Institute at 1stAct Silicon Valley (now SVCREATES); and MACLA/Movimiento de Arte y Cultura Latino Americana. She assumed her new role on November 30. We know that Tamara will be a tremendous asset to the Foundation’s great work!
CONNECT WITH US
The Western States Arts Federation (WESTAF) is a nonprofit arts service organization dedicated to strengthening the financial, organizational, and policy infrastructure of the arts in the West (Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawai’i, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming). WESTAF assists 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 for all. Through innovative programming, advocacy, research, technology, and grantmaking, WESTAF encourages the creative advancement and preservation of the arts regionally and through a national network of customers and alliances.