WESTAF Nurtures New Leaders

Through programs, partnerships and its own equity, inclusion and anti-racism practices, WESTAF applies the belief that the arts are an expression of the unique identities of all people.

The Social Responsibility and Inclusion Division provides equity-centered learning experiences and funding opportunities that connect and inspire artists, leaders and communities to build a more inclusive arts and culture sector, strengthen the arts field, and catalyze change. This work is performed through a four-pronged approach:

A graphic with four light blue boxes that state Equity Advancement, Leadership Development, Regional Touring, and Equitable Grantmaking.

WESTAF supports the equity advancement of state arts agencies by providing and/or helping to resource equity-related learning experiences and guidance for relevant staff.

WESTAF’s deep engagement in leadership development has manifested in the building of a network of Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) leaders in our region who are committed to the advancement of cultural equity in arts administration. A direct result of recommendations made to WESTAF from arts and culture leaders and advocates from across the region, this work is articulated through our Emerging Leaders of Color (ELC) Program and Leaders of Color (LC) Network.

In 2019, WESTAF commissioned an independent evaluation of the ELC program to assess whether we were meeting our stated program goals effectively. The evaluation provided alumni with an opportunity to reflect on the experience and any influence it may have had on various aspects of their personal and professional lives. Key findings included:

A light pink and blue diagram with seven circles.

Please visit the Emerging / Leaders of Color website for more information.

Supported by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, TourWest has been WESTAF’s flagship regional touring program for 24 years. Providing subsidies to hundreds of arts and community organizations in the region, it’s focus is the presentation of touring performers and literary artists. Please visit the TourWest page for more information about current grantees.

In addition to the TourWest grant program, WESTAF has been uniquely positioned to respond to relief and recovery funding for the region through the lens of equitable grantmaking. To this end, our efforts with federal funds through the CARES Act, American Rescue Plan and private funds from the Mellon Foundation, WESTAF has been able to prioritize funding to organizations focus on these communities:

  • Active Duty Personnel/Veterans
  • Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC)
  • Disability/Accessibility
  • Frontier
  • Immigrants
  • Institutions
  • Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, plus (LGBTQ+)
  • Low-income
  • Remote
  • Rural
  • Youth