Recently, we got the chance to virtually sit down with Manny Cawaling of Inspire Washington to find out more about how they manage to make such a large impact with a small staff, what some of his most memorable stops were on his state tours, and what he wants everyone to know about their work.
As an organization dedicated to promoting culture across the state, the Inspire Washington team of advocates spends much of their time keeping lawmakers and policymakers in the loop about what is happening in the sector as we move forward from the pandemic. Letting folks know not only the challenges and opportunities that the sector is facing, but also leading with their strengths and the amazing cultural experiences that have been happening since COVID-19.
With a staff of three, we asked Manny how Inspire Washington manages to make such a large impact. First, he told us about the history of advocacy in Olympia that they’ve been able to build off as a springboard. Second, the pandemic shifted a large spotlight onto the importance of their work in advocating for cultural programming in every city, town, and county in Washington. They faced a heavy burden but successfully championed for pandemic-relief funding that made its way into communities across the state. Finally, the team crossed 5,000 miles meeting with as many people as they could in every county, meeting over 1,200 organizations where they were, in person. Getting in front of people and talking to them about their struggles and triumphs worked to grow their newsletter subscribers over 30% during that time.
We asked Manny what some of his favorite stops were as he travelled throughout Washington. While he loved each of the communities he visited, the Stone Rose Interpretive Center in Republic, the Pasco Farmer’s Market, and the North Clark Historical County Museum in Amboy were some of his top mentions, among several others.
In closing, Manny said he wants everyone to know, “Everyone needs cultural programming to lift them up and connect them.” The best way to engage with InspireWA is to visit inspirationleague.org. And if you’d like to partner, no matter what your work is, reach out!
Join us in celebrating with Inspire Washington that HB 1575 (establishing councilmanic authority for the cultural access program) was approved by the WA Senate!