Aspen Writers’ Foundation and Aspen Institute Join Forces

February 13, 2009

Aspen, CO, February 13, 2009––A longstanding history of collaboration between two of Aspen’s oldest nonprofit organizations has just taken a great leap forward. On February 11, 2009, the board of the Aspen Writers’ Foundation (AWF) voted to become a program of the Aspen Institute. In this new arrangement, AWF will be run under the auspices of the Institute’s newly established Harman-Eisner Program in the Arts.

“The quality of the programming of the Aspen Writers’ Foundation is stellar, and we are thrilled to have them join the Institute as a part of the Harman-Eisner Program in the Arts,” said Aspen Institute President and CEO Walter Isaacson. He added: “The opportunities for collaboration, given the recent addition of Dana Gioia, former chair of the National Endowment for the Arts, to the Aspen Institute are very exciting.”

AWF President Dennis Vaughn said, “While the face of the AWF will remain the same, we are honored to partner with this prestigious, international organization and look forward to expanding and elevating our programs in order to better serve our community.”

The AWF will maintain its offices at the Red Brick Center for the Arts and will continue to be run by Executive Director Lisa Consiglio and her staff of three. The AWF’s current Board of Directors will continue to serve as an advisory board. No changes to the AWF’s programs are planned; however, thanks to a generous gift from Sam and Cheryl Wyly, Aspen Summer Words, the flagship program of the AWF, will be held on the Institute’s Aspen Meadows campus this summer. The AWF will be responsible for its operating budget and for raising funds to cover administrative and programming costs.

The Harman-Eisner Program in the Arts, currently directed by Dana Gioia, was established to support and invigorate the arts in America and to return the arts and artists to the center of the Institute’s “great conversation.” It brings artists and artworks to the Institute, and it also brings together leading artists, arts managers, sponsors and patrons to generate, exchange and develop ideas and policies to assure vibrancy and dynamism in all artistic realms, and to enrich civic culture in ways only the arts can do.

The AWF brings the page to life in auditoriums, classrooms, libraries and beyond through its innovative and diverse programming. Hundreds of authors, poets, journalists, songwriters, screenwriters and playwrights have graced the AWF’s stages in literary events for all ages. With the NEA reporting that nationwide reading is in decline, the AWF’s work—provoking thought, broadening perspectives, fostering connections and inspiring creativity —is more important than ever before, and will flourish under the Harman-Eisner Program in the Arts.

“The AWF’s grassroots nature is consistent with the Institute’s community outreach efforts and our programs mesh beautifully. We look forward to working jointly with the AWF on expanding opportunities for citizens of the Roaring Fork Valley to engage with the Institute and the AWF” said Amy Margerum, EVP of the Institute.

AWF board member and former Aspen Mayor Helen Klanderud, who participated in the deliberations commented, “Having been involved with these two esteemed and well-established nonprofits for many years, I am very pleased with the alliance and feel that the opportunities for both parties and the community are endless. There is no doubt that combining their talent and resources will enhance the missions of both organizations.”

The Aspen Writers’ Foundation, Colorado’s oldest nonprofit literary organization, has been bringing readers and writers together since 1976. The organization’s mission is to provide programs that encourage writers in their craft and readers in their appreciation of literature. Through its repertoire of 10 year-round programs and projects, the Aspen Writers’ Foundation serves 20,000+ literary enthusiasts of all ages annually.

The Aspen Institute mission is twofold: to foster values-based leadership, encouraging individuals to reflect on the ideals and ideas that define a good society, and to provide a neutral and balanced venue for discussing and acting on critical issues. The Aspen Institute does this primarily in four ways: seminars, young-leader fellowships around the globe, policy programs and public conferences and events. The Institute is based in Washington, DC, Aspen, Colorado, and on the Wye River on Maryland’s Eastern Shore and has an international network of partners.

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