About the Regionals

Map of the United States with RAO Logos

Overview

The US RAOs are a national collective of six place-based nonprofit arts service organizations committed to strengthening America’s infrastructure by increasing access to creativity for all Americans. We are: 

  • Arts Midwest (Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Wisconsin)
  • Mid-America Arts Alliance (Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Texas)
  • Mid Atlantic Arts (Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Virginia, and West Virginia)
  • New England Foundation for the Arts (Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont)
  • South Arts (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee)
  • WESTAF (Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawai’i, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming)

Together, we work across the United States to activate and operate national arts initiatives, encourage and support collaboration across regions, states, and communities, and maximize the coordination of public and private resources invested in arts programs. 

The RAOs have a deep connection to our regions, knowledge of our arts and culture ecosystems and organizations, and longstanding partnerships with state arts agencies, the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and other public and private funders and service organizations. 

We are intermediaries and service providers, with track records of innovation, research, leadership, and responsiveness. Within our founding principles of increasing access to arts and creativity, we have a practice of working collaboratively within and outside our regions with an ever-growing commitment to equity and inclusion in our practices. 

 

Partnerships

From their inception, Regional Arts Organizations have been integrally tied to State Arts Agencies and the National Endowment for the Arts. These partnerships help ensure that public funds are distributed responsively, equitably, and efficiently across the United States.

By federal legislation, the Regional Arts Organizations and the State Arts Agencies collectively receive 40% of the National Endowment for the Arts’ budget. These funds are distributed to States and Regions through a competitive process.

Other RAO partners include foundations, local arts agencies, arts organizations, corporations, businesses, and individuals.

 

History

The RAOs were created by state arts leaders in the mid-1970s to facilitate the exchange of artists across state lines. Since their creation, the National Endowment for the Arts and state arts agencies across the country have supported and encouraged the continued growth and development of the RAOs to ensure that artist tours and creative programming reach all corners of the country.

Over time, the roles of the RAOs have evolved in response to the shifting needs and priorities of their regions. Today, they leverage public and private partnerships and funding to create and deliver programming across multiple disciplines. With a collective reach that spans across state, national, and international borders, the RAOs play a major role in strengthening the U.S. arts infrastructure.