Leah Horn

DENVER, CO—The Western States Arts Federation (WESTAF) has been awarded a multiyear grant by the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust. This funding allows for the creation of a new position in WESTAF’s Alliances, Advocacy, and Public Policy (AAP) division and will enable WESTAF to continue program expansion related to addressing the pressing needs of the field. As WESTAF continues to innovate and evolve, the organization will retool existing and initiate new programs and services that will be further enhanced with the support of the new manager of public policy and advocacy, including ambitious convenings and policy, research, and capacity-building activities.

In collaboration with the Director of Impact and Public Policy, this new role will aid in the advancement of the organization’s state- and national-level advocacy objectives and help to lead efforts outlined in WESTAF’s 10-year strategic plan. 

“WESTAF has a bold vision to strengthen the field and catalyze change with a focus on organizing for effective arts advocacy and contributing to innovation in cultural policy. In recent years, we have begun to reimagine our role as an equity-focused convener, thought partner, coalition builder, and catalyst, said Director of Impact and Public Policy David Holland. We are at a critical moment of stretching ourselves to engage a growing regional and national network of advocates and look forward to expanding our team to be responsive to their needs. WESTAF is thankful for this partnership with the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust, which will enhance our ability to serve as an advocacy and policy partner to the states in our region and to the field nationally.”

Through its Alliances, Advocacy, and Public Policy (AAP) division, WESTAF delivers programming in three key areas:

Convenings: Through seminars and summits, WESTAF brings together experts and leaders from a variety of fields to address critical issues affecting arts and culture and to provide an opportunity for practitioners and thinkers to reflect on issues particular to the West while considering a national context. 

Services to State Arts Agencies: Executive Director Forums and other professional development programs provide valuable learning and networking opportunities for state arts agency staff in WESTAF’s 13 member states. WESTAF has also conducted more than 80 consulting projects, primarily for these agencies, since 1997. 

Advocacy: Each year, WESTAF disburses funds (generated from earned income) to its member states to support state and federal arts advocacy. WESTAF also builds regional participation in national arts advocacy and cultural policy efforts through its Arts Leadership and Advocacy Seminar. In 2020, WESTAF launched the Western Arts Advocacy Network (WAAN), which brings together leaders from state arts advocacy organizations and other key advocates from across the region to network, share best practices, and inform WESTAF’s support of arts advocacy. 

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. As an innovative and evolving organization, WESTAF initiates new programs and services regularly. In FY20 alone, it increased investment across the region by over 136% with a focus on equity; launched five new programs that broadened its grantmaking and bolstered its policy and advocacy activities; and invested in efforts that increased public support of state arts agencies in the region by over 49%, all while maintaining a buoyant technology enterprise.