Leah Horn

WESTAF to Distribute $1.7 Million through New United States Regional Arts Resilience Fund

Partnership with Mellon Foundation offers relief and recovery grants to support under-resourced arts and culture organizations in the West

DENVER, CO, June 16, 2020—The Western States Arts Federation (WESTAF) announced today that it is partnering with its five sister United States Regional Arts Organizations and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to distribute grants from a $10 million emergency investment to support arts and culture organizations.

The United States Regional Arts Resilience Fund is a first-of-its-kind relief and recovery grant to each of America’s six Regional Arts Organizations, a national collective of place-based nonprofit arts service organizations. It is designed to help mitigate the financial threat to the sector by supporting small- and mid-sized arts organizations of all artistic disciplines in rural and urban areas that are regarded by their peers as having statewide, regional, or national impact. The Fund will also prioritize those organizations that are most at risk during this crisis, including historically under-resourced organizations, as well as those who serve under-resourced populations, communities, and art forms.

The COVID-19 pandemic is severely impacting arts and cultural organizations in the West. Findings from a WESTAF COVID-19 impact survey indicate that 54% of arts nonprofits in the western region have sustained total or severe losses in revenue over the last two months, 47% of arts nonprofits surveyed have reserves of less than three months, and 16% have no cash reserves at all. Arts nonprofits consider arts relief the most needed intervention to help them to mitigate the serious financial challenges they currently face as a result of the pandemic and, with Mellon support, WESTAF is able to address this need. 

Through the WESTAF Regional Arts Resilience Fund, WESTAF will administer the re-granting of over $1.7 million across it’s 13-state region, which includes Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawai‘i, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming. In alignment with WESTAF’s strategic vision for increasing opportunities, benefits, and resources for historically underrepresented communities in a manner that results in quantifiable and systemic change, the fund will support organizations led by and/or predominantly serving individuals from historically marginalized communities that identify as: Black, Indigenous, people of color; low-income, LGBTQIA+; and/or rural, remote and under-resourced.

“Thanks to the generosity and encouragement of the Mellon Foundation, the six US Regional Arts Organizations have partnered to establish a fund that will help arts and cultural organizations address the profound impact that the pandemic is having on their communities,” said Christian Gaines, WESTAF Executive Director. “Right now, organizations need space to re-imagine the future. This fund will help with that.”

The grant from the Mellon Foundation will provide initial funding for the project, and is part of the Foundation’s COVID-19 response—an effort to sustain the arts and humanities during this international crisis. WESTAF will distribute $1.7 million of the fund in the summer of 2020 with awards ranging from $30,000 to $75,000, with a few exceptional $100,000 grants.


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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.