Cultural Policy in the West

Symposium proceedings

2000, 122 pages; Western States Arts Federation (WESTAF), Denver Colorado, 303-629-1166.

Sparked by NEA support for controversial artists, the 1990's Cultural Wars highlighted the lack of philosophical underpinnings for art and cultural activities in this country. Today, many U.S. foundations and think tanks are addressing this problem. Optimizing America's Cultural Resources, the Pew Charitable Trust's fifty million dollar five-year project to analyze and evaluate the cultural resources of the United States, and The Politics of Culture, a collection of essays published this year by the Center for the Arts and Culture, are two important efforts to formulate national cultural priorities.

WESTAF also has added to this debate, convening a symposium "to identify features which shape and influence cultural policy in the West." This 1999 symposium featured a broad range of participants including professors, artists, representatives from under-represented minorities, arts consultants, research fellows, and both governmental and foundation grantmakers. Cultural Policy in the West includes symposium presentations and immediate audience responses, as well as an overview authored by WESTAF staff. Presentations were wide ranging in scope, posing important questions and challenging artists and other cultural makers to envision projects that articulate the issues of the West today. Topics discussed included the role of the Western myth in defining Western culture, and how can Western cultural definitions include the under-represented populations of the West

Review by Jane Levy, Marin Community Foundation