The Westmoreland Museum of American Art (WMAA), Greensburg, was recognized by Citizens for the Arts in Pennsylvania for their outstanding and innovative efforts to encourage their members and visitors to advocate for state funding of the arts. The WMAA was honored during a ceremony at the Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild in Pittsburgh on October 14. The ceremony was part of the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council’s Partners in the Arts Grant Award Program.
For two years, the Westmoreland Museum developed unique strategies to draw attention the important contributions the arts make in communities across the Commonwealth and how a lack of state funding might affect these programs. During the 2009 state budget battle, the WMAA darkened three of its art galleries for one hour a day to demonstrate what would happen if there was no state funding of the arts. This concept inspired Citizens for the Arts to create a statewide campaign called “Artless Wednesdays” where arts organizations darkened galleries, put black crepe over marquees, blacked out their websites on Wednesday until the state budget was passed in October 2009. This year, the WMAA created a video where each staff person talked about their arts job. Other arts organizations followed suit.
“The Westmoreland Museum of American Art and its staff have consistently lead the way in creating tools to deliver the arts advocacy message,” said Mitchell T. Swain, board chair of Citizens for the Arts in Pennsylvania. “It is our honor to work so closely with them and have them as part of our arts advocacy team.”