WESTAF regularly convenes experts and leaders from a variety of fields to address critical issues that affect arts and culture and to provide an opportunity for practitioners and thinkers in the region to reflect on issues particular to the West while considering a national context.

2021 Creative Vitality™ Summit

Thank you to all of our participants, moderators, speakers and panelists for attending the Creative Vitality™ Summit, presented by WESTAF in partnership with the National Creative Economy Coalition, ASU Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, Grantmakers in the Arts, and more. The virtual convening took place on Monday, September 20 and Tuesday, September 21, 2021. 

WESTAF previously brought field leaders together to discuss the creative economy and state economic development in the form of a major convening in 2008. In 2021, we once again assembled a group of today’s creative economy experts, economic development professionals, arts and culture leaders, solidarity economy advocates, and equity champions to share their knowledge and practice. 

The 2021 Creative Vitality™ Summit featured a series of speakers, panels, and community-led discussions around how the creative economy intersects with the solidarity economy and other alternative economic models. These discussions delved into trends in creative work, centering the creative worker in creative economy development, and the role and need for networks of those advancing the creative economy across public, private, and nonprofit sectors.

Please be sure to visit the Creative Vitality™ Summit page for more information on Summit sessions, resources, and also check out our pre-conference paper for more insight on Summit proceedings.

Arts Leadership and Advocacy Seminar

Between 2011 and 2017, WESTAF’s annual Arts Leadership and Advocacy Seminar (ALAS) brought a group of arts leaders from the West to Washington, D.C. to meet with members of Congress and their staffs, engage in briefings regarding the status and future prospects for federal arts support, and to discuss with the WESTAF trustees ways to generate more state government support for the work of state arts agencies. Learn more about WESTAF’s Arts Leadership and Advocacy Seminar

Cultural Policy Symposia

WESTAF organizes symposia of experts and leaders from fields both inside and outside the arts to address critical issues affecting arts and culture. These periodic meetings, 16 of which have been held since 1997, provide an opportunity to reflect on cultural policy issues particular to the West, to introduce practitioners in the region to one another, and to expand the acquaintance of national and international discussions of cultural policy with thinkers in the West. Learn more about WESTAF’s Cultural Policy Symposia.

Arts + the Rural West Seminar

The Arts + the Rural West convening brought together funding and policy organizations with practitioners to consider future directions for rural arts as a policy priority and practice of the field.

In 2020, WESTAF piloted a new seminar format that brings together representatives from local and state government, private grantmakers, national rural arts and rural design initiatives, folk and traditional arts organizations, indigenous organizations, artist collectives and colonies, and other arts and cultural institutions on how to advance arts in the rural West. On April 3, WESTAF conducted an Arts + the Rural West initial virtual workshop over 3 hours with 25 participants representing the Alliance for California Traditional Arts; California Arts Council; Idaho Commission on the Arts; Epicenter; Mountain Time Arts; First Nations Development Institute; Plains Indian Museum at the Buffalo Bill Center for the West; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; the National Endowment for the Arts; Housing Assistance Council/Citizens’ Institute on Rural Design; Rural Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC); Wichita Falls Alliance for Arts and Culture; Center for Education, Business, and the Arts; Advocates for California Indigenous Language Survival; Western Folklife Center; Artes Americas; and the Town of Eagle, Colorado.

The Arts + the Rural West session report features discussion summaries and transcripts of participant report-outs from the virtual convening. WESTAF believes that the ideas and insights that were shared during this convening have the potential to inform the advancement of arts and culture in rural communities in the West and beyond. 


Arts + the Rural West
Virtual Workshop

Kate Belton
Director of Development and Communications
Mountain Time Arts
Bozeman, MT
Anne Bown-Crawford
Executive Director
California Arts Council
Sacramento, CA
Catherine Bryan
Director of Programs, Strengthening Tribal and Community Institutions
First Nations Development Institute
Longmont, CO
Matthew Fluharty
Founder & Executive Director
Art of the Rural
Winona, MN
Juta (yuh-tah) Geurtsen
Community Development Director
Idaho Commission on the Arts
Boise, ID
Meg Glaser
Artistic Director 
Western Folklife Center
Elko, NV
Tiffany Hammer
Senior Program Officer
First Nations Development Institute
Longmont, CO
Jennifer Joy Jameson
Programs Manager + Media Director
Alliance for California Traditional Arts
Los Angeles, CA
Margie Johnson Reese
Executive Director
Wichita Falls Alliance for Arts & Culture
Wichita Falls, TX
Sarah Lillegard
Resource Developer
Doyle, CA
Consuelo (Chelo) Montoya
Assistant Vice President
Adult Education and Public Programs
Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Los Angeles, CA
Nikiko Masumoto
Organic Farmer and Artist
Del Rey, CA
Hunter Old Elk
Curatorial Assistant
Plains Indian Museum at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West
Cody, WY
Bob Reeder
Program Director
Rural LISC
Washington, DC
Brandy Reitter
Town of Eagle
Eagle, CO
Ruth Saludes
Interim Coordinator
Artes Americas
Fresno, CA
Courtney Spearman
Design Specialist
National Endowment for the Arts
Washington, DC
Kelly Stowell
Executive Director
Center for Education, Business and the Arts
Kanab, UT
Maria Sykes
Executive Director
Green River, UT
Stephen Sugg
Special Projects Manager
Housing Assistance Council/Citizens Institute
on Rural Design
Washington, DC
Carly Tex
Executive Director
Advocates for California Indigenous
Language Survival
Fresno, CA
Abby Whiteing
Lead Program Officer
First Nations Development Institute
Longmont, CO

Christian Gaines, Executive Director
David Holland, Director of Public Policy