Leah Horn

DENVER, CO—The Western States Arts Federation (WESTAF) is the recipient of a one-time, unrestricted gift of $8 Million from MacKenzie Scott and Dan Jewett. The gift is part of a new round of 286 grants from the philanthropists, totaling $2.74 billion.  

In her most recent post, Mackenzie Scott writes: “Arts and cultural institutions can strengthen communities by transforming spaces, fostering empathy, reflecting community identity, advancing economic mobility, improving academic outcomes, lowering crime rates, and improving mental health, so we evaluated smaller arts organizations creating these benefits with artists and audiences from culturally rich regions and identity groups that donors often overlook.”

WESTAF’s programs and services offer grantmaking, research, advocacy, convenings, and professional development to strengthen arts, culture and the creative economy, and to increase opportunities, benefits, and resources for historically underrepresented communities. WESTAF will honor this tremendous generosity through a continued and extensive commitment to strengthening and supporting artists and arts organizations, nurturing new leaders, and supporting communities in the Western region and beyond. 

“We are humbled and profoundly grateful to MacKenzie Scott and Dan Jewett for this monumental gift,” added Tamara Alvarado, chair of the WESTAF board of trustees. “This investment serves as a testament to WESTAF’s ongoing commitment to equity in the communities that we serve.”

Since the beginning of the pandemic, WESTAF has initiated programs to aid artists and cultural organizations in the West. WESTAF launched the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Relief Fund for Organizations grants in 2020 to distribute CARES Act funding through the National Endowment for the Arts, offering support to arts and cultural organizations affected by the COVID-19 crisis. More recently, WESTAF collaborated with its sister Regional Arts Organizations with funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to build the Regional Arts Resilience Fund, a first-of-its-kind relief and recovery program designed to aid in decreasing the financial threat to the sector caused by the pandemic. The program supported small- and mid-sized arts organizations of every artistic discipline in rural and urban areas.

Over the coming months, WESTAF will be looking closely at how this funding can best be responsibly invested and leveraged in ways that reflect the mission of the organization and have the most significant impact on the communities that WESTAF serves.

# # #

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. 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 and arts education 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.