Greetings WESTAF community:
As usual, so much going on in the WESTAF-world these past few weeks, so let’s jump right in, shall we?
UPCOMING BOARD MEETINGS (CG)
Incorporating some great feedback from trustees following our February meeting, we’re in planning mode for our upcoming virtual board of trustees meetings scheduled for May 19-20. While our meeting will be busy as usual with reports from committees, finance and general updates, we’re making a special effort to make space for discussion and reflection, especially in the later part of the meeting. At a later date, we will be sending trustees a brief questionnaire designed to gauge your appetite for an in-person convening in Denver scheduled for October 27-28. In anticipation of this very real possibility, we have made tentative bookings at the Brown Palace Hotel, where we last convened together in October of 2019.
UPCOMING ARTX PRESENTATION (CG)
Invitations went out last week for our third ArtX presentation scheduled for April 28 from 4-5pm MT. For this ArtX Edition we’ll be joined by Dr. Lisa Cooper the James F. Fries Professor of Medicine and Bloomberg Distinguished Professor of Equity in Health and Health at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, School of Nursing, and Bloomberg School of Public Health. Dr. Cooper will engage in a conversation with trustee Dr. Bassem Bejjani about whether insights from Dr. Cooper’s research and her efforts at eliminating health disparities be a model for arts and cultural organizations as we address issues of access and inequality in our field. It should be a fascinating presentation and discussion, so if you haven’t yet RSVP to the calendar invitation, please be sure to do so!
ONBOARDING NEW SRI DIRECTOR ANIKA KWINANA (DH)
Anika has, in true WESTAF fashion, had a whirlwind of an onboarding experience over the last two weeks that has included a week-long series of briefings on the SRI department and its programs with Lani, Madalena, and David and meetings with WESTAF’s Technology, Finance and Administration, Marketing and Communications, and many of our Business teams. She has also attended meetings with South Arts about our ELC partnership, with Kaisha Johnson of Women of Color in the Arts about further equity advancement work with our regional performing arts network, and a federal audit training with the National Endowment for the Arts, among other meetings.
WESTAF ENGAGES WHITE HOUSE AND ASSOCIATION OF WESTERN CHAMBER EXECUTIVES ON $20 BILLION PUT CREATIVE WORKERS TO WORK POLICY PROPOSAL (DH)
WESTAF is currently working to amplify the Put Creative Workers to Work policy proposals, which has evolved to include a $20 billion package. We have written to the White House and engaged our regional association of chambers of commerce, the Western Association of Chamber Executives. Engaging chambers is an emerging element of our strategies to create a network of advocates outside of the arts (an objective of the WESTAF 10-year vision and strategic plan). Please contact your members of Congress, the White House, and/or your state and local chambers to engage with these proposals by using the following: Put Creative Workers to Work proposal letter and Chamber of Commerce engagement.
WESTAF IS A LEAD AUTHOR OF CULTURAL ADVOCACY GROUP INFRASTRUCTURE/RECOVERY PLATFORM (DH)
David is currently working closely with Heather Noonan and Najean Lee, of the League of American Orchestras advocacy team and facilitators of the Cultural Advocacy Group, to produce the initial draft of a new set of policy recommendations that are being formulated in response to the Biden-Harris Administration comprehensive infrastructure proposal, The American Jobs Plan.
GETTING CREATIVE WORKERS WORKING UPDATE (CG)
This past week, we virtually attended another periodic Getting Creative Workers Working convening, hosted by AFTA. In this session, we learned more about the fast-emerging ways that states and localities are beginning to think about accessing ARP funds; heard more about the various kinds of creative workforce initiatives across the country that are impacting health, equity and work and economic development. If you can think of an initiative like this in your region, you are invited to add to this knowledge bank by submitting your own contribution through this simple questionnaire. We also learned about different legislation and proposals in California Massachusetts, Hawaii, New York and Philadelphia.
WESTERN ARTS ADVOCACY NETWORK AND STATE ARTS ACTION NETWORK LEADERS JOIN CULTURAL ADVOCACY GROUP WITH WESTAF ENDORSEMENT (DH)
Consulting with Heather Noonan, a convener of the Cultural Advocacy Group, David invited WAAN Co-Chairs Julie Baker, executive director of Californians for the Arts and California Arts Advocates, Manny Cawaling, executive director of Inspire Washington, SAAN Chair Ann Graham, executive director of Texans for the Arts, and Claire Rice, executive director of Arts Alliance Illinois, to serve on the Cultural Advocacy Group. This is the first time that state arts advocacy groups are being invited into this ad hoc national coalition that formulates federal arts and cultural policy, and the move aims to better coordinate arts lobbying nationally (an aspiration of the WESTAF 10-year vision and strategic plan).
FY21 WESTAF FEDERAL ADVOCACY PROGRAM IN DEVELOPMENT (DH)
Moana and David are currently finalizing details for our FY21 Federal Advocacy Program, including updating the Federal Advocacy Toolkit. This involves significant research on Congressional offices, Congressional committee structures, and range of policy issues. We hope to release the program, with the toolkit as a resource, by month end. Through the program, we will be making some modest investments in state federal advocacy efforts.
WESTAF AWARDED MANAGEMENT OF PERFORMING ARTS DISCOVERY BY THE NATIONAL ENDOWMENT FOR THE ARTS (DH)
The National Endowment for the Arts has added a $200,000 award to the WESTAF partnership agreement to manage Performing Arts Discovery, an initiative that aims to introduce international presenters to U.S. performing artists and companies thereby reducing barriers for American artists overseas. WESTAF will allocate funding to the Western Arts Alliance (WAA) to administer the redesigned program, which was reimagined by the Arts Endowment, WESTAF, WAA, ArtsMidwest, and South Arts to support artists in producing digital assets that can be used to engage international presenters for virtual and in future in-person performance opportunities. The refocused initiative will focus primarily on artists of color and engage the six U.S. Regional Arts Organizations.
ARTS ENDOWMENT FEDERAL AUDIT CONVENING (CG)
Several members of the WESTAF team attended a very useful virtual convening for SAAs and RAOs hosted by several team members from the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) at the National Endowment for the Arts. Most of our sister RAOs have been subject to OIG audits in the past 3-5 years. It has been at least ten years since WESTAF has been subject to an audit from the NEA OIG, which feels a little like waiting for “The Big One” on the west coast! The OIG team walked us through the auditing process and answered lots of questions. An OIG audit will certainly happen at some point in the future, and will require significant bandwidth from our grants and finance teams, but as we reviewed the audit process as a team, our sense was that we are sufficiently prepared for the inevitable.
LEADERS OF COLOR NETWORK SKILLSHARE SCHEDULED FOR APRIL 29 (DH)
On April 29, 2021, 2:00 p.m. Mountain time, WESTAF will host the third installment of our Leaders of Color Skillshare. Our quarterly skillshares are an opportunity for members of the Leaders of Color Network to connect through shared knowledge as a community of learning. This month, we bring together artist-educators, Nathalie Sanchez (LC18/CA), Tara Gumapac (LC18/HI), and Alex Jimenez (LC15/CO), to lead a conversation around online engagement. We will also make time to check in about how we’re doing and introduce Anika and 2021 alumni.
TOURWEST DEADLINE CLOSES WITH 247 APPLICANTS (LM)
The TourWest application period closed on April 15, and we have received 247 applications. Lani is currently managing the eligibility checks process working with Jessica Gronich, Natalie Scherlong, Anika, and David.
FUNDRAISING UPDATE (CG)
A more thorough update will come at the May board of trustees meeting, but we recently submitted an LOI to the Sloan Foundation’s Universal Access to Knowledge funding program. We’re also following up with great interest on the merger between the Patrick McGovern Foundation and the Cloudera Foundation, and their new Data and Society brief has particularly resonated with us. Both of these approaches could potentially accelerate WESTAF’s work at the intersection of art and technology. Additionally, we’re positioning ourselves for an introduction to the Satterberg Foundation. We’re also getting ready to submit an LOI to the US Bank Foundation. As you know, we have submitted a completed proposal and all requested backup material to the MJ Murdock Charitable Trust and expect a final decision on May 27. We are also expecting feedback, follow up on LOIs submitted to the Mellon Foundation and to the American Express Foundation.
ALL-DAY CONFLICT SELF-MANAGEMENT SESSION (CG)
The WESTAF team participated in an all-day conflict self-management session on April 13 conducted by Debbie Stone with Employers Council. While the session was long (especially on zoom), the facilitator was engaging and the WESTAF community was engaged, contributing lots of insightful comments and active participation throughout the presentation. We knew this is something we wanted to do, but we weren’t really sure how the session would ultimately pan out. I think by and large we were surprised and gratified by the opportunity to reflect on how we approach and address conflict in the workplace.
MONTHLY RAO MEETING UPDATE (CG)
We convened with our RAO colleagues for our regular monthly meeting. We received a presentation and information on the Air Institute’s NCAPER Crisis Analysis and Mitigation program for arts responders, with RAOs agreeing to put the word out to our regions to try and field a few candidates for this program. We also discussed our intentions to furnish the Mellon Foundation with a brief proposal for a follow-up funding program for the Regional Arts Resilience Fund. Lastly, we’re also considering a “do-over” Chairs and EDs in-person retreat (which never happened because of the pandemic) — possibly towards the end of September — in Fort Collins, CO.
FINANCE & ADMINISTRATION (AH)
The HR team is working to prepare the staff and the office on Sherman street to welcome staff back for meetings or co-working needs once the pandemic has passed. WESTAF will make the office available to staff once the city of Denver moves to the “green” phase of the COVID-19 Dial The staff have been surveyed regarding their interest in using the office space as well. Amy attended a corporate responsibility presentation by our USBank representative who was integral in securing WESTAF both Paycheck Protection Program loans. Becky and Amy attended a nonprofit conference presented by our auditing firm, Plante Moran. Content included changes in tax law, accounting updates, the employee retention tax credit and managing risk. The nationwide nonprofit survey results for 2020 which was presented at the conference can be found here for your information. With the staff getting vaccinated, the F&A team is working together to plan vacations and cover each other’s work to ensure the pent up need to take vacation and travel can happen with minimal interruption in work this summer.
STRATEGIC PLANNING (NS)
The communications cohort continues to refine their stakeholder survey and is looking to move into their next initiative around the research of WESTAF products, including collecting information on different WESTAF brand elements. The policy cohort will be holding their next meeting on Tuesday, April 20 to go over next steps. The equity cohort will formally welcome Anika as their new sponsor at their next meeting on Thursday, April 22.
GENERAL BUSINESS (CV)
We’re excited to welcome our new business project coordinator, Blair Carpenter, to the WESTAF team! Blair is a trained opera singer/theatrical performer with a background in CRM and client data management, web building and design, and project management. Her first day is April 19, and she will work closely with Natalie V. to learn all about WESTAF and the five business platforms she’ll help to support. In other news, we just wrapped up OKR quarterly review meetings for all five SaaS products, with a recap of our second quarter progress in the forthcoming QBR.
The CaFE team is needing to fill an expected vacancy position due to Eliza Wetherill’s departure on 4/28/21. Eliza will be returning to graduate school this summer. She will be greatly missed by the staff but we wish her well and great success in her new endeavor. The position for Operations Coordinator in CaFE will open immediately. Customers are starting to return after a year, and we see great movement in terms of renewals and new client sign-ups. The new CaFE admin UI is now expected for a late May release and notices will start going out to customers announcing the forthcoming changes.
CVSuite team continues to work on the CVList project with an anticipated launch date of April 30. The team has finished updating the Help Center and has decided to more formally announce its completion in May after the CVList announcement. We received a quote for a password handling enhancement that was more costly than planned, so the team has reorganized some budget items in order to prioritize this important enhancement. SMUData Arts, a friend and healthy competitor reached out to the team and proposed a research collaboration. We had a meeting together this week in which we discussed common research questions, areas of inquiries and potential projects to partner on, including submitting a proposal to speak at the GIA conference.
GO SMART (JG)
GO Smart released two new development tickets this week. One ticket finalizes the switch to Edit and Remove icons on the admin portal. The second ticket enhances the user experience while selecting dates and years for the files in their media library by replacing drop down menus with text fields and date pickers. ZAPP and CaFE will be including in their client newsletters a question asking if any of their clients also offer grants. Selecting yes will redirect them to a short survey and Jessica will follow up with respondents as potential leads.
PUBLIC ART ARCHIVE (LG)
PAA is pleased to present a new virtual exhibition: The Art of Recovery, an initiative of Santa Monica Cultural Affairs. Art of Recovery focuses on three main priorities: economic recovery, community connectedness & restorative justice, and public health & safety through grants for temporary artist projects and installations located throughout the City. The exhibition will continue to be updated as new installations take place. In other news, Lori accepted an invitation to present (virtually) at the upcoming Urban Creativity Conference in Lisbon this summer.
ZAPP has seen an increase in leads in the past couple of weeks with 10 reaching out through our sales site. We also learned Events Local, a competitor that launched in 2017, is shutting down because of the pandemic. We quickly focused our efforts on aggregating a list of their customers and reaching out with a promotional offer to take 50% off the setup fee. We are hoping to see a few of these efforts transpire into new sales this month!