News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Sisters foundation invited to D.C.

Erin Borla, President of the Sisters-based Roundhouse Foundation, was invited last month to participate in a gathering in Washington D.C., where the White House Domestic Policy Council and National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) discussed the “whole-of-government” approach to arts and culture. 

Borla said she was among five foundations invited to participate, based on Roundhouse Foundation’s mission to advance arts and culture in rural communities.

During National Arts and Humanities Month, the Biden-Harris Administration highlighted its commitment to supporting the arts, humanities, and museum and library services and integrating them into federal policies and programs, including investments in the NEA, National Endowment for the Humanities, and Institute of Museum and Library Services.

In the meeting, Domestic Policy Advisor Neera Tanden discussed how arts and humanities are essential to a thriving democracy and should be integrated across federal agencies. NEA Chair Maria Rosario Jackson discussed current federal opportunities for the arts, including the administration’s focus on equity and justice, climate, the urgent need to repair our democracy, and challenges facing the arts sector in the wake of the pandemic.

“I got a brief opportunity to speak about the importance of rural voices being included in this conversation,” Borla told The Nugget.

Borla noted that 97 percent of the land mass in the United States is rural, but rural residents only make up 19 percent of the population.

“There’s a lot of folks who have been left out of the conversation,” she said.

Roundhouse Foundation is committed to making sure those voices — which range from ranchers to Native American communities, to residents of small towns — are heard. Borla notes that some of that work involves a broader understanding of what arts and culture actually are in rural America.

“There are bigger conversations around what builds culture,” she said.

Borla was in D.C. for a short 48 hours, in which she also visited Rep. Cliff Bentz and Senator Jeff Merkley.

“I always appreciate the opportunity to meet with elected officials and share the on-the-ground things that are happening in the places they represent,” Borla said.

The October meeting built toward a first-of-its-kind public convening, which will take place at the National Endowment for the Arts and online on January 30, 2024, called “Healing, Bridging, Thriving: A Summit on Arts and Culture in our Communities.”

To learn more about Roundhouse Foundation, visit


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