National arts collective names first director

Yesterday, the United States Regional Arts Organization announced the appointment of Shannon Daut as the US RAO Collective’s first national director.

The U.S. RAOs are a national collective of six, place-based, nonprofit arts service organizations that strengthen America’s infrastructure by increasing access to creativity for all. The six RAOs are Arts Midwest, Mid-America Arts Alliance, Mid Atlantic Arts, New England Foundation for the Arts, South Arts, and WESTAF (Western States Arts Federation), with a combined  reach that spans across state, national, and international borders.

Headshot of Shannon Daut“We are thrilled to welcome Shannon Daut (right) as the national director of the U.S. RAO Collective. Her remarkable track record and visionary leadership will undoubtedly guide our efforts to create a stronger, more interconnected arts ecosystem in the United States,” Torrie Allen, president & CEO of Arts Midwest and co-chair of the U.S. RAO collective, said in a statement.

Shannon Daut brings 20 years of experience to her new role, with executive leadership positions at regional, state, and local arts agencies. Throughout her career, Daut has been a driving force in reshaping the roles of arts agencies in policy and cultural advancement.

She led the cultural affairs division for the city of Santa Monica (California) from 2016 to 2023, where she integrated the arts into the community through projects that served economic recovery, racial justice, and public health efforts. She served as the executive director of the Alaska State Council on the Arts from 2012 to 2016, where she expanded the agency’s role in state policy, and spent 12 years in various roles at the Western States Arts Federation, including deputy director. She has also served on the boards of prominent arts organizations, including the National Performance Network and the Association of Performing Arts Presenters.

“…I am honored to have been selected to work alongside the talented teams at each Regional Arts Organization to expand their reach to communities across the country. I’m excited by the opportunities that this collective approach creates  to expand support of the arts ecosystem, helping arts, creativity, and culture thrive in every corner of America,” Daut said.

In her new role, Daut will work alongside the executive directors of each regional arts organization to carry out the U.S. RAO Collective’s 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. During her first year, the plan is for her to conduct listening sessions with stakeholders, seek out future grant opportunities for the arts field, and support ongoing US RAO collective projects including, among others, the National Leaders of Color Fellowship and Jazz Road.

About the U.S. Regional Arts Organizations

The U.S. Regional Arts Organizations are a national collective of six place-based nonprofit arts service organizations comprising Arts Midwest, Mid-America Arts Alliance, Mid Atlantic Arts, New England Foundation for the Arts, South Arts, and WESTAF (Western States Arts Federation). The RAOs were created by civic and arts leaders in the early 1970s to facilitate the exchange of and accessibility to the arts across state lines and into local communities. 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. Learn more at