Board of Trustees Bi-Weekly Recap

Bi-Weekly Recap: April 5, 2021

Spring greetings, WESTAF trustees and colleagues:

This gorgeous Denver spring weather almost made me forget that we’re now officially half way through WESAF’s fiscal year! How did this happen? Let us skim right over that, and convey that we are so very joyful to welcome Anika Kwinana to WESTAF (her first day is today, April 5!) and also to announce that Moana Palalei Hoching is also joining us as a senior policy associate working with David. More information about Moana is included below. These sharp and savvy experts will provide much needed leadership, oversight and support in our SRI and AAP divisions, and we couldn’t be more thrilled that they’re joining the WESTAF community. From there, lots to report — including a chockablock marketing/communications check-in from a very busy Leah, and some newsy and very cool business updates — so let’s get to it, shall we? But wait! Before we go any further, let’s kick this off right with news of a superb trustee achievement…


Trustee Mike Lange alerted us that Eagle County swept the Colorado City and County Management Association’s manager of the year awards ceremony Monday, with the CCCMA recognizing Eagle town manager and WESTAF trustee Brandy Reitter as city manager of the year. Eagle Mayor Scott Turnipseed said that her professional approach has made a huge difference for the town. “She’s fantastic at building a team and working to accomplish what we’re trying to get done,” he said. Huge congratulations to Brandy for this honor!


The executive committee convened for their monthly meeting on 3/24 with lots of timely matters to cover, yielding a stimulating wide-ranging discussion. We kicked it off with a presentation from our auditing firm Plante Moran who walked us through our final auditing documents and took some questions. More details on this in Amy’s update below. We also held some space for the violence we have experienced as a community — towards the AAPI community as well as in Boulder. Chair Alvarado led the officers in a conversation around fundraising, and we also had a great discussion about WESTAF’s continuing plans and progress around becoming a distributed workplace. We are also going to be voting on two new board members at the May meeting. It was a wonderful conversation!


February financials are available for your review. February is the 5th month of our fiscal year. Here are the February cash summary and the accompanying memo. The March end of year projections are also available. This is the first month we see the second Paycheck Protection Program loan which is on line 33. Otherwise, income and expense are in a good position and our projected deficit at year end has been significantly reduced from the budget.


We are considering changes to our HR & Operations post-pandemic and planning for the shared use of our offices until the lease expires in Dec. Amy researched state tax and legal implications of staff traveling and working from other states per the recommendation of the Employers Council. Amy scheduled time with Anika and Becky for training on how to manage SRI financials. The 990 tax form and audit draft were approved by the excom and the full board via emailed unanimous consent. The document retention policy was reviewed by the excom and shared with all staff who are asked to consider the policy and how it applies to their paper files. An overview of the benefits provided with a membership for WeWork was also discussed with the excom and shared with the full staff.


This past week, the leadership team participated in a two-hour coaching session with Val Atkin from Well Street Consulting. This was a powerful level-set meeting with the team around components of trust and psychological safety as well as how to develop a safe and effective feedback culture within the whole organization, something that we’re angling towards as a component of our professional development and evaluation process with Insights.


Speaking of Insights, Christian had a productive catch-up conversation with our Insights representative Kirsti Tcherkoyan regarding our integration of this evaluation and feedback tool at WESTAF. The adoption of Insights is going well since we introduced it to the team last year. The more use the system gets, the more useful it will become to the whole organization in a feedback, personal and professional development capacity.


We have received dozens of resumes for the position of executive coordinator. We hope to identify a successful candidate by the beginning of May so that Natalie S. will be able to train this new person through the organizational process leading up to May board meeting, then have the new executive coordinator full onboarded through the summer and into the fall board meeting.


Tamara and Christian participated in the annual US RAO chair and ED retreat this past week along with the chairs and ED’s of our five sister RAOs. This was an opportunity not just to check-in, but also to describe and visualize the  collaborative projects that are in development, including the possibility of a national RAO-led ELC program, a Regional Arts Resilience Program v. 2.0, and an update on the National Coalition of Arts Preparedness and Response (NCAPER/AIR). We also received a thorough update on NIVA’s $15B SVOG program from Hal Real, chair of Mid-Atlantic Arts. SVOG is being administered through the SBA, and we had an inspiring discussion about pandemic recovery and the role of the RAOs in appropriately scaled, future funding for the arts. This modest two-hour session was the first retreat inviting RAO chairs since our Burlington retreat in 2019 and substituted for our retreat scheduled for Fort Collins, CO which was canceled due to the pandemic.


Christian attended a virtual session on NASAA’s Updated Creative Economy State Profiles, describing the value of arts and cultural production in every state prior to the global coronavirus pandemic. The data, published by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts (Arts Endowment), are an authoritative source for the value of the creative economy in every state. In addition, NASAA also released the Arts and Creativity Strengthen Our Nation, which shows advocates how to make a case for public support of the arts as a core necessity—rather than as an optional nicety. Its recommendations originate from extensive message testing and research on the values that motivate elected officials.


Christian attended the virtual public portion of the National Council on the Arts 202nd Meeting. There were opening remarks and routine voting on recommendations for grant funding, followed by updates on arts endowment activity from the Acting Chairman Ann C. Eilers.


David was invited to serve as a panelist for an advocacy briefing session at the National Arts Action Summit that will focus on two aspects of creative economy policy: first, on advancing the for-profit and nonprofit creative economy through federal legislation with a special focus on intentionally underserved communities. Other panelists include U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-OR), Narric Rome, Americans for the Arts, Craig Nutt, CERF+, Carolyn Ryan, Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, Frank Cullen, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Jonathan Glus, San Diego Arts & Culture Commission, and Amy Schwartzman – National Coalition for Arts’ Preparedness and Emergency Response (NCAPER).


Moana Palelei HoChing joined WESTAF on April 1 to serve as WESTAF’s senior policy associate, a consulting role that manages key public policy and advocacy programs and provides counsel to the director of impact and public policy. HoChing contributes to WESTAF’s research and policy communications and works with its grassroots advocacy network, engaging with a range of arts and cultural policy issues through an equity lens. She currently serves as vice chair of the Zoo, Arts, and Park (ZAP) Program Tier 1 Board, where she assists in directing $14.3 million of Utah taxpayer dollars to 22 arts and cultural nonprofits, as well as three zoos throughout the Salt Lake Valley. HoChing previously served as the assistant director of educational outreach of the Honoring Nations program at the Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development. She is a multidisciplinary artist, technologist, and fierce advocate for Indigenous affairs and has consulted on projects in Kenya; Waikato, Aotearoa; New Orleans; New York; Las Vegas; Denver; and throughout Indian Country and has her own production company, Crazyhorse Productions. HoChing is a proud alumna of the National Pacific American Leadership Institute (NAPALI), Harvard University’s Administrative Fellowship Program (AFP), and WESTAF’s Emerging Leaders of Color (ELC) program. 


Tamara and David met with Javier Torres-Campos, Director, Thriving Cultures, at the Surdna Foundation to discuss WESTAF’s anti-racism journey, equity work, Emerging Leaders of Color program, Leaders of Color Network, and ways that WESTAF might intersect with their work in the West and nationally. Javier has agreed to connect us with major movement partners in their work in the region like the Center for Cultural Power; make introductions to other private foundations that may be interested in our work; and continue conversations about a partnership between our organizations.


On Thursday 4/8, David will be joining the NASAA Grants Directors/Managers group for a peer session discussing the WESTAF Regional Arts Resilience Fund and how WESTAF has adapted our grant programs to better serve BIPOC and rural communities. Jimmy Castillo from the Houston Arts Alliance (HAA) will talk about how HAA conducted an audit of all their public art projects to track the diversity, equity, and inclusion of the artists who have been awarded these contracts over the life of the program and use to results to reform their public art guidelines and selection process and benchmark their changes.


David joined the first meeting of the Western Arts Alliance LGBTQ+ Committee on 4/2, a new affinity group organized by WAA to elevate LGBTQ+ voices; affirm cultural forms like ballroom drag, and burlesque; and expand membership of LGBTQ+ people participating in WAA. The group includes individual artists, performing arts organization leaders, performing arts presenters, and funders in the West. WAA is a core partner in delivering key aspects of our regional touring program funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, including Performing Arts Discovery. WAA also co-invests in TourWest grantees presenting indigineous artists through Advancing Indigenous Performance.  


The communications cohort has settled into a monthly meeting scheduled which is feeling pretty good for the team. At our last meeting, cohort members reported on some internal research including refining a survey that will be sent to WESTAF internal and external stakeholders. In addition, we are finishing up an evaluation of WESTAF’s brand assets. Our next meeting is scheduled for April 7th and we will be checking-in on the moving parts to this project. We will also be moving into a research compilation phase on that date. Once we compile the research we will move into the first phase of our recommendations. The policy cohort met with our Trustee Advisors on March 19th to review the scoping doc and address any concerns. The document is now finalized and will be utilized as a guide to identify upcoming initiatives for the cohort. Co-leaders, Janae and Justine, met with David on Tuesday, March 30th to recap their meeting with the TAs and identify project proposals for the group. The next cohort meeting will be on April 20th. 


Most of you are already aware, but we want to officially share the great news that Natalie Scherlong will be joining the MarComm team as WESTAF’s new communications coordinator! Natalie will gradually transition into this new role as we work to recruit and hire for her current position. We anticipate that she will fully assume the role in May. We are so excited to welcome Natalie to the MarComm team! The team has also recently been in conversation with Common Notice to adapt our remaining storytelling sessions to address some of the challenges of working in a distributed environment.


Over the last few weeks, we released a handful of significant announcements, including our new Director of Social Responsibility, the 2021 ELC program cohort, an ELC alumna joining David’s team, the extension of the TourWest 2021 application deadline program, and a statement on the murder of Asian American women and others in Georgia. In mid-March, Leah participated in a kickoff RAO communications meeting, to provide an opportunity for RAO communications staff to explore possibilities for increased information sharing and cross-promotion of stories and grant opportunities across the six regionals. As a first step, the group has created a shared document with all six RAO’s tentpole activities for the year for better information sharing. We will meet again in mid-April to continue discussing the many great ideas that were shared in the March meeting and plan to meet on a monthly basis moving forward. The April edition of WESTAF Now is nearly complete and will be delivered in mid-April. We have been submitting content monthly for the National Endowment for the Arts Newsletter and are currently working on the Spring RAO Activity Report. 


After wrapping a successful 2021 Arts Leadership and Advocacy Seminar (ALAS), the MarComm team is now working on a plan to share out the recordings from the event more broadly. We are also planning to build a page on devoted to the Seminar, which we hope to launch by May. 


We continue to refresh portions of; most recently, Sam revamped the Technology page (now Web Services for the Arts  and we hope to launch the newly formatted News page in April as well. We are also currently working with the SRI team on a plan to build out a designated TourWest page to better showcase the program and its grantees and, as mentioned earlier, a page specifically devoted to the Arts Leadership and Advocacy Seminar.


GO Smart — We recently launched our first paid social media video ads for GO Smart, which will run throughout the month of April, and are working on making further improvements to the GO Smart sales site, currently focusing on the Features page. Our 2021 blog and SEO strategy has been initiated, with a March blog (authored by WESTAF’s new communications coordinator, Natalie Scherlong!) on tips for creating strong grant proposals. CaFE — the team recently wrapped up its Q1-Q2 campaign targeting galleries, which generated a list of 40 qualified leads for followup by Ken. With both the email and social media campaigns performing so well, we are working on further segmenting our marketing list of over 2,800 potentials to identify additional audiences based on our CaFE personas to develop a Q3 marketing campaign focused on a smaller, more targeted group. CVSuite — the CVSuite team is making great progress on its third Creative Vitality List (see CVSuite biweekly recap for more info), expected to launch at the end of April. The MarComm team is launching a new Google ads campaign in April specifically around CVSuite’s Reports in hopes of increasing traffic to the reports page to generate more sales around those offerings. We are also planning to launch our first set of paid social media video ads in Q3. PAA — Sam recently worked with Lori to design a fun, fresh newsletter to the PAA master list of 4,566 contacts. The newsletter highlighted special projects in collaboration with Mural Arts Philadelphia and featured some of PAA’s collection spotlights, new features and enhancements. So far, the newsletter generated three leads and significantly increased traffic to the PAA website. We are currently working on drafting copy for PAA’s first paid social media video ad, planned for an early Q3 launch.


Christina has been working to review and update the ZAPP contracts to account for the switch to EFT payments along with an updated force majeure clause prompted by the pandemic; this work also included a review of the WESTAF privacy policy with additional work needed with Leah to update some of that language. We’ve wrapped up interviews for the business project coordinator position and hope to have an offer accepted by April 5. We’ll begin interviews for the part-time customer experience coordinator on April 8. We’ve also made some changes to our internal sales meeting, switching our agenda from a sales figure reporting style to a more conversational discussion about the successes and challenges with sales in each SaaS product and a stronger focus on our strategic sales direction.


The CaFE team will be meeting in early April for an OKR Q2 recap. The team will use this time to report on goals, work in progress, update metrics, and summarize accomplishments and blockers. Testing rounds on the new admin ui continues; however, the release date planned for end of April may need to shift and is undetermined at this time. This month on the CaFE Corner blog we take a deeper look at “How Two Organizations Use CaFÉ to Select Artworks and Artists.” Lastly, here’s a small sample (from over 200!) of opportunities accepting entries on CaFE:  Morean Center for Clay Artist in Residence 2021, RFQ for Creative Placemaking, Dance: an Esther Rolle inspired exhibition, and Comunidad: A Hispanic/ Latinx Heritage Month Exhibition & Residency Opportunity.


Cache and Arkansans for the Arts have been sent a final version of their contract and confirmed they will sign. They also purchased a Specialized Impact Report from us. The group is excited about the tool and we will be planning a data-training workshop with them once they get settled with access. CVSuite has a kick-off meeting for the Data-Education project coming up and has been preparing materials for the meeting. We also have an exploratory meeting with SMU DataArts to discuss a possible partnership on a joint report. 


An unexpected issue arose with the NEA reports while Lani was attempting to pull the TourWest 2019 Final Report data. Natalie was able to suss out an escalation plan, but it was discovered that the issue was an edge case that will be discussed more at the monthly build meeting and absorbed into the overall NEA work to come. We continue to assist the San Antonio Department of Arts and Culture who is struggling with an Intent to Apply workflow issue. We are awaiting the final contract and renewal documents for Massachusetts Cultural Council in coordination with CaFE. 


PAA has been busy working on a number of enhancements to artwork detail pages and collection-specific maps that will continue to improve the user experience and leverage more of PAA’s technical infrastructure for the benefit of paid clients. PAA completed the import of Park City’s public art collection and recently submitted a proposal to Summit County for the use of the PAA CMS and showcase features. The team continues to work on closing the sale of the PAA CMS to four potential clients; however, while these organizations will likely convert into sales, it won’t be until later in Q3 or Q4 because of budget constraints and schedules.


ZAPP released an exciting new feature for artists. They are now able to add comments, tag, and filter their applications on the My ZAPPlications page (the artist landing page) to aid in their organization. This is especially important now as many artists are trying to keep track of which shows have rolled over their booth fees, been cancelled, postponed, etc.  We have already heard a lot of positive feedback for this enhancement from artists. Additionally, we fixed a bug and completed a security upgrade. 

Respectfully Submitted,