WESTAF Now Newsletter | June 2023

Thought Leadership and reach           

WESTAF Leadership Visits the Pacific Jurisdictions

During the Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month of May, a delegation of WESTAF’s leadership undertook a two-week trip to Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), and American Samoa to learn about and celebrate the cultures of these vibrant yet isolated Pacific communities that are now a part of the WESTAF region. The trip covered more than 18,000 miles from Los Angeles to Hawaiʻi, Hawaiʻi to Guam and CNMI, then back to Hawaiʻi to get to American Samoa, with a return through Hawaiʻi to Los Angeles. The group was warmly received by each jurisdiction’s arts agency and were able to meet artists, arts administrators and elected officials from each of these communities, with about three or four days in each place. The engagement with each individual community included museum visits, gallery events, dance festival participations, cultural demonstrations, special performances, visits to seafaring programs, WESTAF presentations tailored for individual artists, and meetings with government officials. While there is much to be highlighted, WESTAF’s major takeaways and learnings include the need for networking and connection, grant-writing assistance, and resource dissemination for individual artists and local art organizations within each of the Pacific Jurisdictions. As the United States Regional Arts Organization now representing these jurisdictions, WESTAF is now more committed than ever to the equitable and community-centered resourcing of these unique and remote communities across the Pacific Ocean.

WESTAF Leadership Visits the Pacific Jurisdictions

The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation is a multi-faceted organization that spearheads music education, community engagement, and cultural preservation in Louisiana. Most famously, the Foundation owns and operates the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, a renowned annual showcase of musical performances, arts and crafts marketplaces, and local culinary delights — bringing in over 460,000 people from across the globe.

In April, WESTAF staff traveled to New Orleans to understand how ZAPPlication®CaFÉ™, and GO Smart™ have helped the Foundation enhance the execution of the festival and maximize the impact of their programs on the local community. Read our latest blog post to get the full story!

Read the Blog

 alliances, advocacy & policy              

WESTAF Continues Support of NEA Performing Arts Discovery Program in Partnership with Western Arts Alliance

The National Endowment for the Arts has renewed a grant to WESTAF to continue the management of the Performing Arts Discovery program in partnership with the Western Arts Alliance (WAA). Enhancements that WAA and WESTAF are considering for the third year of the redesigned program, now called PAD Showcase, include professional development programming for participating artists with a focus on international opportunities, a PAD live showcase/jam session at the San Diego WAA Conference and travel for presenters from key target markets to the Conference.

WESTAF Submits Public Comments on Indian Arts and Crafts Act

WESTAF has been tracking proposed changes by the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs to the Indian Arts and Crafts Act. In April, WESTAF submitted public comments to the draft bill supporting language to include Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders under the protection of the truth in advertising law and supporting the use of the “Native creative economy.” WESTAF encouraged the Committee to engage in deeper consultation with directly affected stakeholders and also prepared a primer on the legislative history of the act to support discussion and reflection.

WESTAF Recommends Inclusion of Arts and Cultural Organizations in NTIA’s Digital Equity Grant Programs for Community-Based Support

The Digital Equity Act 2021, part of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, establishes $2.75 billion in grant programs to promote digital inclusion and equity to ensure that all individuals and communities have the skills, technology, and capacity needed to reap the full benefits of our digital economy. The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) is the agency administering the grants. WESTAF submitted public comments in May encouraging grant programs to include arts and cultural organizations as important entities who work on digital literacy, workforce development, and bridging the digital divide. WESTAF also provided feedback in using a scoring system that favors collaborations to support capacity building of local, community-based organizations who serve the covered populations. WESTAF will continue to monitor the Act’s implementation for opportunities involving arts and cultural organizations.

WESTAF Submits Senate Interior Appropriations Subcommittee Testimony

WESTAF and WAAN submitted a joint testimony to the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee in support of the President’s budget proposal of $211 million for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). (For reference, the FY23 budget of the NEA was $207 million.) This testimony mirrors the testimony submitted to the House Appropriations Committee in March. The testimony urges Congress to support the budget request put forward by the Biden Administration and parity in funding between the NEA and National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). It also urges Congress to build a specific path to index funding for the NEA and NEH at $1 per capita.

Representative Barbara Lee Reintroduces Advancing Equity through the Arts in Humanities Act

Representative Barbara Lee of California recently reintroduced the The Advancing Equity Through Arts and Humanities Act (H.R. 3239). As an early supporter of the act, WESTAF partnered with Californians for the Arts and the Congresswoman’s Office on a webinar about the legislation hosted virtually last summer.

WESTAF Joins California Creative Economy Work Group

WESTAF has been invited to join the California Creative Economy Work Group chaired by Julie Baker, CEO, Californians for the Arts/California Arts Advocates and Gustavo Herrera, CEO, Arts for LA and organized by California Forward, a statewide nonprofit organization leading a movement to ensure the economy and the government work for everyone. Assemblymember Wendy Carrillo has made a request of the subcommittee to allocate $1 million to establish a work group to create a strategic cultural equity plan for California’s creative workforce to collect and analyze data on the state’s current creative economy, an effort inspired by the Creative Economy Strategic Plan process in the state of Washington and lobbied for by California Arts Advocates. The California Creative Economy Work Group would develop a strategic plan to improve the creative economy with cross agency, legislative, tribal, community, and business representatives.

social responsibility & inclusion      

Exciting News: WESTAF Welcomes Expanded Social Responsibility and Inclusion Team

WESTAF’s Social Responsibility and Inclusion (SRI) team is growing! Led by Director of Social Responsibility Anika Tené, the expanded team will support existing equity work in the region, as well as new initiatives, including new technical assistance grant programs, deeper investment in the Leaders of Color Network, and the development of equity-centered tools and resources to further the work of WESTAF-region states and jurisdictions.

Meet the team

TourWest 2023-24 Application Cycle Closes

TourWest’s application portal closed on May 30 with an impressive number of applications from across the region. We have assembled a diverse panel of experts to evaluate the submitted proposals, taking place now. Thank you to all of this year’s applicants. WESTAF is grateful to continue to offer support for the administration of regional touring programs and we can’t wait to share this year’s grantees in the coming weeks. Stay tuned!

Introducing the BIPOC Artist Fund Awardees

In April, WESTAF announced the awardees of WESTAF’s Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) Artist Fund. These artists represent a range of disciplines, from visual to performing arts, and we are delighted to support their creativity and contributions to the cultural landscape of the Western region.

We would like to extend our deepest thanks to our design team and application reviewers, who carefully reviewed each application and provided their expert insights. We are grateful for their dedication and commitment to supporting BIPOC artists.

WESTAF Grants and Accessibility Manager Joins DisArt Board

Grants and Accessibility Manager Ashanti McGee was recently confirmed as one of DisArt’s newest board members. As a board member, McGee will be part of one or more committees of the DisArt network, which focus on deeper disability culture initiatives. The goal is to continue the work DisArt has provided and for WESTAF to further expand their role in increasing accessibility and establishing meaningful programs and structures for disabled artists and organizations led by them.

Folklife in the South

WESTAF attended the Folklife in the South (FITS) Annual Gathering from June 8 -10, 2023 at Lake Guntersville State Park in Guntersville, Alabama. Hosted by South Arts, FITS joins traditional artists, community stakeholders, cultural workers, and professionals of living traditions together to present art unique to the southeastern U.S. and also highlights various cultural art forms of people who call this area home. The Folklife in the South Gathering returned this year from 2017 and has been in operation since 1980. WESTAF along with Mid-Atlantic Arts’s attendance at the FITS gathering will help further cross collaboration with U.S. RAOs commitment toward strengthening opportunities in the living traditions space.


Leaders of Color Network Logo

The WESTAF Leaders of Color Network is composed of the National Leaders of Color Program (LoCF), the WESTAF Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) Artist Fund, WESTAF Emerging Leaders of Color (ELC) Alumni (2010-2021), and the new WESTAF Leaders of Color Professional Development Fund, which is specifically available for WESTAF LoCF Fellows and WESTAF ELC Alumni. The updates and information below are related to members of the Leaders of Color Network.

WESTAF Regional Fellows Complete the Inaugural Program

On April 19, the LoCF culminated with a virtual summit where all Fellows gave regional presentations to the United States Regional Arts Organizations’ (USRAO) executive directors and board chairs as well as national observers composed of USRAO staff, national service organizations, and local and state arts organizations and agencies. The WESTAF 2022-23 LoCF Fellows are now a part of our LOC Network.

The next cycle of LoCF will launch applications in August.

WESTAF WEB SERVICES                                 

ZAPP Shares Insights and Successes from Saint Louis Art Fair Mock Jury

ZAPP’s latest blog dives into the Saint Louis Art Fair’s recent mock jury session. Read the blog to learn more about how the renowned art fair provided valuable and comprehensive feedback to artists during the jury session, as well as thoughts from the mock jurors themselves.

Read the Latest from ZAPP

Art Call Management Tool Comparison: Why CaFÉ is the Ultimate Platform

After researching what makes art call management tools most helpful, the CaFÉ team compiled a list of common challenges administrators face and how CaFÉ can help. For years, CaFÉ has specialized in turning an often overwhelming call management process into a streamlined one. To learn more about what makes CaFÉ the ultimate platform for managing art calls, check out April’s blog!

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CVSuite Brings You the Social Impact of the Creative Economy

What makes the city you live in so great? Maybe it’s the cultural diversity and inclusivity, employment opportunities, a sense of community and belonging, or perhaps it just feels like home. But why is that? Read CVSuite’s latest blog post as they explore the social impact of the creative economy.

Check it Out

GO Smart Shares Five Tips for Simplifying Your Grantmaking Process

Grants management can be a complex and time-consuming process, but it doesn’t have to be! Read GO Smart’s latest blog post: Five Tips for Simplifying Your Grantmaking Process. Create a seamless experience for you, your applicants, and your panelists — give it a read!

Public Art Archive Uncovers Public Art Gems in New Orleans

Summer is here, and there’s no better time to plan your next road trip or summer vacation! Read PAA’s latest blog post and join the team as they uncover public art gems in the heart and soul of New Orleans.

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WESTAF Community NEWS                          

Friends and Family Remember DisArt Co-Founder Chris Smit

Chris Smit, co-founder of DisArt, was remembered by family and friends at Chris’ homegoing service in Grand Rapids Michigan on May 26. Friends, family, and colleagues expressed their stories and gratitude for his life and continued efforts to amplify the work and concerns of disabled people throughout the United States. DisArt shared a recording that can be viewed here.

Inside Philanthropy Features WESTAF in Latest Article

Dive into Inside Philanthropy’s article, exploring our commitment to equity, accessibility, and social justice in the arts. See how WESTAF is transforming the landscape by supporting diverse artists and organizations across the region.

Read the Article


WESTAF Executive Director and Board Chair to Host Fireside Chat at Arizona Presenters Conference

WESTAF is thrilled to be a part of the program at the upcoming Arizona Presenters Alliance 25th Annual Conference in beautiful Sedona, Arizona from August 15-17. The keynote speaker will be Lisa Richards Toney, President of the Association of Performing Arts Professionals. Executive Director Christian Gaines and Board Chair Teniqua Broughton will engage in a conversation about WESTAF’s past, present, and future, as well as the trajectory of arts service organizations more broadly.


Creative Forces Community Engagement Grants Awards More Than $760,000

More than $760,000 in grants were awarded to 34 organizations across the U.S., including 14 in the WESTAF region, all to help military-connected communities connect and heal. Creative Forces Community Engagement Grants, part of the Creative Forces®: NEA Military Healing Arts Network, will support community-based arts programming for military-connected populations, providing opportunities for creative expression while building connections and improving resiliency.

Learn More

CONNECT WITH US                                           

WESTAF LogoThe 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, Wyoming, American Samoa, Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), and Guam). 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.

WESTAF | www.westaf.org