Western States Arts Federation: Grants for Music

OVERVIEW: Western States Arts Federation is a regional arts organization that seeks to create and promote arts opportunities in that region. Its grants support presenting organizations by financially incentivizing the opportunity for music, dance, theater, literary and visual arts projects and programs to head west.

IP TAKE:  The name Western States Arts Federation is only somewhat accurate. Its grants primarily go to presenting organizations, and those must be out west. But the artists who can occupy those presenting venues and benefit from that grant can come from anywhere in the country. Music is a priority.

PROFILE: Western States Arts Federation seeks “to strengthen the financial, organizational, and policy infrastructure of the arts in the West” by “assisting 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 citizens.” As its name suggests, it brings artists to those western states. But that name fails to characterize the organization’s worldliness, because the performers come from all around the globe. Western States Arts Federation funds music grantmaking through its TourWest program.

The organization funds a variety of presenting organizations—performance halls, community centers, museums, parks, college campuses, high school theaters, and more—as long as they are in Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, or Wyoming and are non-profit.

The federation’s TourWest program subsidizes presenting groups showcasing out of state musical performers (as well as those in the theater, dance, and literary realms). It is a subsidy because the program pays for up to 50 percent of the musicians’ fees, up to $2,500.

Strong applicants will have a solid history of successfully bringing performers to its venue and will have a well-articulated plan that includes collaboration with other presenting organizations in the region—meaning that the time and costs for those traveling musicians will amount to maximum performance and exposure.

In addition to a minimum of one public performance, the TourWest program also requires that the music group being presented engage in an outreach activity. Examples of these include lectures, demonstrations, master classes, or in-school educational activities that engage students with the musicians.

Part of the reason this outreach component is mandatory is because Western States Arts Federation views engagement with “underserved and/or culturally diverse” audiences as important criteria. Grantseekers should be mindful of this in their music project application.

Western States Arts Federation also wants those music performances to be of high quality. “Artistic excellence” of the performing musicians is at the very top of its list of criteria for selection. Interestingly, this not only includes the music they make, but the context in which they make it; “relevance and potential impact of the artist/company in relation your community” is another key aspect the federation would like to know about.

A small sample of some past musicians presented through TourWest grantees include: yMusic (based in New York, NY) presented by the Anchorage Concert Association and Juneau Arts and Humanities in AK; Yuki and Tomoko Mack (based in Michigan) presented by Red Rocks Music Festival in Phoenix, AZ; Trio Voronezh (based in Moscow) presented by the Lake County Youth Home in Ronan, MT, the Sunburst Community Service Foundation in Eureka, MT, the Fort Benton Community Improvement Association in Fort Benton MT, the Judith Arts Society in Hobson, MT, and the Pondera Arts Council in Conrad, MT; The Fred Hersch Trio presented by the Stanford Jazz Workshop in Stanford, CA; Sybarite 5 presented by the Campbell County Public Land Board in Gillette, WY, University of Wyoming Cultural Programs in Laramie, WY, and the Wyoming Symphony Orchestra in Casper, WY.

TourWest applications are online and are due at the beginning of April each year for tours starting the following September.

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