The US RAOs are a national collective of six place-based nonprofit arts service organizations

Students in the Pages literacy program at the Wexner Center enjoying the Jaamil Olawale Kosoko performance. Photo by Katie Spengler Gentry. Courtesy of Arts Midwest.

We strengthen America’s infrastructure by increasing access to creativity for all. We are:

Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin
Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Texas
Delaware, District of Columbia, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, Virginia and West Virginia
Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont
Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee
Alaska, American Samoa, Arizona, California, Colorado, Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming
Our Collective Mission

Together, the US RAOS across the United States work 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.

Lion greets audience members at the Chinese New Year celebration at the Alliance of Chinese Culture and Arts in Minneapolis, MN. Photo by Courtney Perry, courtsey of Arts Midwest.


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. The collective has received generous leadership support from the Mellon Foundation, and the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.

New Work New England Rebecca Blunk Fund honoree Jin Hi Kim plays the electric komungo. Photo by Bleue Liverpool, courtesy of NEFA.

The RAOs were created by state arts leaders in the early 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.

A group of arts leaders of color pose and smile for a picture.
WESTAF Emerging Leaders of Color Alumni at the 2022 WESTAF Board of Trustees Meeting in Honolulu, Hawai’i. Photo Courtesy of Lila Lee, courtesy of WESTAF.