Hello WESTAF Board of Trustees:
Thanks for all the positive feedback for these Bi-Weekly Recaps. As always, your questions and responses are warmly welcomed and much appreciated. We are busy at WESTAF and love the work we’re doing! Thank you for your stewardship.
May 15-16 Bozeman BOT Meeting
We’re in the process of fleshing out the agenda for the BOT meeting on May 16 in Bozeman, MT and in determining guests to invite to our working dinner on the evening of May 15. Thanks to trustee and treasurer Cyndy Andrus for helping us with this, and thank you for working with our team to book your travel and accommodations in a timely manner!
Director of Public Policy Search
So far, we have received around 20 resumes and cover letters for this position, and we’re pleased overall with the quality and experience of the candidates. We are aiming for a pool of 5-7 diverse, qualified candidates from which to make a final selection. Once we have identified this pool, we’ll set up an “interview loop” with each leadership team member owning a specific competency that we’re looking for in the candidate — communications, public policy experience, arts and culture experience and equity competency. Each leadership team interviewer will handle a specific competency, with prepared questions within it. When interviewing all candidates has concluded, the interviewer will report in on that competency to the whole group, offering comments and notes and scores along a spectrum of “not inclined to hire” to “very inclined to hire.” We are on track for a 7/26 hiring deadline.
We have put a “StratPlan Faire” on the all-team calendar for 5/29-30. Rather than releasing various strategic plan docs (scoping docs, cohort guidelines, etc.) in disembodied pieces, we are inviting the team to a “StratPlan Faire” to absorb an extended all-team training/onboarding session where we can present all of this information at once, address questions, process feedback, enjoy some strategically interwoven professional coaching around team communication and collaboration and then come together to celebrate the launch of the Ten-Year Vision and Strategic Plan. Cohorts will then be in place to begin their work from June onwards. In the meantime, the leadership team continues their work re-aligning team structure into the BAR CAT model.
State Arts Agencies
Erin and I had a successful conference call on 3/25 with a good turnout of SAA EDs to brief them on the previous BOT meeting, the search for the Director of Public Policy and some other items. I had a wonderful few days in Santa Fe, NM getting to know the community there. Met with the interim director of the NM Arts Commission Jenice Gherib and her team, Randy Randall, head of the Tourism Santa Fe and the day culminated in a lovely dinner hosted by Creative Santa Fe with representatives from the NM Museum of Art, the Santa Fe Art Institute, the MoCNA, IAIA and our own Loie Fecteau. Also a lovely highlight was meeting ELC alum Nicole Davis, who is a digital media specialist at the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum. It was a lively discussion and a great introduction for me to this arts community. Important briefing call with Andrea Noble-Pelant and Ben Brown from the Alaska State Council on the Arts about their ongoing fight to preserve $700K in state funding (further matched by NEA funding) in Gov. Dunleavy’s proposed draconian budget. Looking forward to spending time in Washington, Washington DC, Burlington at the RAO Executive Retreat, Phoenix, Reno, Bozeman, Pocatello in April and May. Still trying to get in touch with Tatiana Gant in Montana — she’s the last and only SAA ED that I haven’t been able to connect with. Will keep trying. Current SAA ED “acquaintance score” currently sits at 47/65 (up from 37 when I started!).
WESTAF NEA Funding for FY20
Good news (and still confidential) — we have received our NEA award for FY20. We never quite know what will be awarded and keep our fingers crossed that the RAP portion that funds a lot of our programs and some overhead doesn’t decrease too much. This year the total award increased by $25,800 for a total of $1,713,600. We are asked by the NEA not to make any public announcements about this grant until after May 15, but this is great news!
The operating year 2019-2020 marks the 25th season for TourWest, a touring and arts participation program of WESTAF. This year, we had 298 applications submitted for the panel review. The panel is comprised of seven presenting and arts leaders from the West. They are familiar with nonprofit presenting, as well as the goals of the TourWest program to build audiences, strengthen community engagement and tour cultural programming through the 13 western states. This year, the panel will be chaired by Arts Northwest Executive Director Sam Calhoun and the in-person panel will convene in Denver from May 13-15, 2019. Panel decisions will impact the 2019-2020 presenting season in the 13 western states.
WESTAF has contracted with independent consultant Andrea Girón Mathern to conduct the first-ever evaluation of the Emerging Leaders of Color Program this spring. Andrea will be conducting focus groups and designing a survey to assess the program’s impact on participants’ careers. We expect the results of the evaluation will provide WESTAF with valuable insights on participant selection, program strategies, curriculum development and implementation, alumni engagement, and future impact on the field. Look for more information on the findings in the summer of 2019.
Spring 2019 MAC Meeting
WESTAF’s Multicultural Advisory Committee (MAC) will meet in Seattle, WA on April 16-17. The group will be joined at various times over the two days by Trustees Bassem Bejjani, Karen Hanan, Joaquín Herranz, former trustee Ricardo Frazer and members of the Seattle-area ELC network, Brian Carter, Joshua Heim and Chieko Phillips. In addition to inviting Seattle-area cultural leaders for breakfast and conversation about important advancements in inclusion and equity in Seattle, the committee will discuss the strategic plan and reflect on the long history and personal connections to WESTAF and the work of the MAC.
ZAPP & CaFE
ZAPP is finalizing a deal to offer mini consultations at an art fair directors’ conference taking place in late October in Alexandria, VA. The team will likely pair this endeavor with a meeting to coincide with the ZAPP partner group and the oversight committee. CaFE recently launched an internal call, Way Out West, to invite artists in the western region to submit images that can be featured by the CaFE team across its website, blog, and social media. There have been nearly 200 submissions to date for this call.
Public Art Archive
The Public Art Archive Collection Management Showcase will have eight clients deployed by the end of April. The tech team will work toward containerization from May to June so that we are set up to easily onboard a steady influx of new clients when the PAA manager returns from maternity leave. Additionally, PAA completed a faceted search on the new WordPress site, which is slated for deployment in early May.
Creative Vitality Suite
Six out of sixteen of the CVS Curriculum modules are now complete. Evans School UW – Students from Joaquín Herranz’s capstone project at Evans School of Public Policy & Governance at UW are working with the Seattle Office of Cultural affairs to do a creative economy study on underserved demographic groups. They have access to CVSuite through Seattle Additional Revenue. Finally, we received approval from EMSI to sell some of their static reports, which may be a new revenue stream for CVS.
GO Smart and CVS
We are hiring a business coordinator to assist with GO and CVS trainings, demos, client support and sale support.
Finance and Administration
Many aspects of human resources management are being updated and revised. This work has received input from the executive committee and includes performance management, travel policy, benchmarking and a comprehensive update to the employee handbook to be completed this summer. The goal is to have the new policies and process updated for the new fiscal year. A new process has been launched whereby all budget managers provide projection estimates on a monthly basis of income and expense for the rest of the fiscal year. This work has historically been done by Amy. Now, with input from those who are directly involved in sales and spending money, we expect the process will become a way to integrate budget management into staff decision making and also have more accurate projections.
The Technology Team has created a sample implementation of a business intelligence tool that would allow the business owners at WESTAF to create interactive reports and dashboards for their programs on their customer and client information. These reports are also able to be embedded and used by the clients of each application if the setup is done correctly. Also, a serverless and autoscaling implementation of our database servers is being worked on. The goal is to save costs and address certain performance issues through the use of a newer AWS Service. The new service is an enterprise level solution now offered to any AWS customer. The servers would scale up and down based upon their usage at AWS, saving 35% in costs overall and allowing the implementation of cost-efficient best practices. We are also working on utilizing a content delivery network for images and videos that are uploaded to CaFE and ZAPP. The major impact of this work is that users on their mobile phones or clients who are jurying will experience less load times of that content. The use of content delivery networks is standard in technology applications today. A third party security audit of Call for Entry by a security firm is coming to its conclusion in the month of April. Brownrice Internet and Adam Sestokas have been collaborating to remediate any findings. The purpose of this audit was to confirm the baseline security protocols and to show due diligence in the new implementation of CaFE’s artist application: artist.callforentry.org.
Thanks for all you do for WESTAF!