Board of Trustees Bi-Weekly Recap

Bi-Weekly Recap: August 23, 2021

By August 23, 2021No Comments

August 23, 2021

Greetings WESTAF community:

It’s Sunday evening and I’m vanning back to Denver, having just emerged from the woods (glorious weekend camping near Cottonwood Lake in Colorado’s San Isabel National Forest). That adventure was the perfect end to this past week’s energizing and inspiring retreat with the leadership team in Colorado Springs. The retreat gave us much to process, and generated some potent ideas and concepts to bring into our upcoming RAO retreat, September BOT executive committee meeting and October staff and trustees meeting — more to come there. As we barrel towards the end of FY21 WESTAF is busier than ever, with a super addition to the team, new guests and registrants for the Creative Vitality Summit, some final tinkering to the FY22 operating budget, and a whirlwind of other activity across all departments. Huge gratitude goes to our program directors and managers for keeping us abreast of everything in these informative updates! Read on:

On Friday, August 20, Jade Elyssa Cariaga began their role as the SRI Grants and Equity Manager. Jade Elyssa A. Cariaga (they/we) is a data strategist, community organizer and arts education activist. Acutely aware of ways that public infrastructure fails to serve Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) and artists, their early exposure to class injustice grounds their anti-racist advocacy. Outside of their work in the field, they serve as the Board Co-Chair of UCLA Lambda (LGBTQ+) Alumni Association.

Jade Elyssa joins WESTAF from their position at Californians for the Arts, where they were instrumental in scaling the organization through +118% yr/yr growth during a global financial health, mental health and public health crisis. Their portfolio included grassroots advocacy engagement, data management and analytics, process improvement, research and evaluation, and the technical management of all programs and services. They were also an integral part of the organization’s internal racial and cultural equity practices. This included drafting CFTA’s Racial and Cultural Equity Framework, which was adopted by the Board of Directors to ground the organization’s 2021 strategic planning process in anti-racism; and designing questions for the organization’s statewide COVID-19 impact surveys, which captured meaningful data on the disproportionate financial access and human impacts on California’s Black, Indigenous and creative workers of color, as well as organizations led by Black, Indigenous and people of color.

Jade Elyssa is an alum of The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and Segerstrom Center for the Arts Research & Evaluation and Education internship programs. In 2019, as Founding Co-Director of Transfer Pride Admit Weekend at UCLA, they received commendation from Supervisor Kuehl of Los Angeles County’s Third District for their extraordinary significance in creating an inclusive environment in the greater Los Angeles area. In 2018, they were endorsed to be an Undergraduate Affiliate of the American Educational Research Association, the largest national interdisciplinary research association devoted to the scientific study of education and learning, where approximately 230 of their 25,000+ distinguished members were undergraduate students. They began their career in 2015 as Director of Cesar Chavez Middle School Color Guard, where they worked with Title I students to achieve regionally-unprecedented levels of success.

Jade Elyssa earned a B.A. in Dance from the Department of World Arts and Cultures/Dance at UCLA, where they were one of two people in their college’s graduating class to receive the Chancellor’s Service Award. They are a proud Bay Area native and reside in that area. 

The WESTAF ARP panels will take place from August 23 – August 26. The 24 panelists have been divided into four panels and will review approximately 70 applications each. The panelists represent a diverse group of professionals from across the 13-state region. Please click here to learn more about the panelists.

The Regional Arts Organizations (RAOs) met last week with National Endowment for the Arts Leadership, to discuss a potential new equity-focused grant making program utilizing dollars appropriated by the Biden Administration for this purpose. The endowment would award dollars to the RAOs, which would each administer grant programs in their regions, working from a shared program vision. Another possibility could be that one or more RAO would administer the grant program nationally, with regional input from other RAOs and the endowment. Currently, we expect a grant program recommendation to be approved by the National Council by the end of March 2022, which would enable awards to RAOs to be made during the spring, with an earliest project start date of July 1, 2022. While the endowment and the RAOs would collectively work to move quickly on the design and implementation of each RAO sub-granting program, we wouldn’t necessarily expect sub-granting awards to be made in FY22. More to come on this exciting possibility soon.

As of 8/19, over 200 people had registered to participate in the Creative Vitality Summit. New speakers and panelists confirmed since the last update include:

  • Lulani Arquette, President and CEO, Native Arts & Cultures Foundation
  • Naaima Khan, Owner and Principal, Create Good Consulting
  • Cezanne Charles, Co-Founder, rootoftwo
  • Tom Cahill-Jones, Partnerships Manager, Creative Industries Policy and Evidence Centre, Nesta
  • Mytoan Nguyen-Akbar, Impact & Assessment Manager, City of Seattle Office of Arts and Culture
  • Sunil Iyengar, Director of Research and Analysis, National Endowment for the Arts
  • Mallory Rukhsana Nezam, FORWARD Curator of Partnerships & Programming, Forecast Public Art
  • Allentza Michael, Program Officer for Art & Humanities, American Academy of Arts & Sciences
  • Lauren Ruffin, Co-Founder,

Randy and David met with Roberto Bedoya and Lulani Arquette to plan their session, which is tentatively titled “The Creative Economies of Belonging.” The pair of Beresford Prize winners plan to have a provocative conversation about the economics of social capital, stewardship, restorative healing, and cultural knowledge. There are now 34 speakers, panelists, and moderators confirmed for the session, and we anticipate as many as 40. 62% of speakers, panelists, and moderators are women and 62% are BIPOC at this stage. 

As part of our annual benefits of participation review for states, we have begun to calculate the direct monetary return on investment (ROI) for the states that invest in WESTAF. The FY21 aggregate ROI for the states in our region is 8:1. In addition, we have increased WESTAF direct funding in the 13 states by 288% and the monetary value of state benefits by 236% over the last two years. This chart shows the monetary increase in our funding and benefits across the region from FY19-FY21. If we were to consider the over $830 million in state relief funding appropriated across the region in ROI calculations (given both our direct and indirect engagement with advocacy efforts to secure these funds in the 13 states), ROI would be over 2600:1 in aggregate across the region. These results were made possible through increased investment from the National Endowment for the Arts through federal stimulus funding (which WESTAF actively advocated to secure), new investment from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and reallocation of WESTAF resources to support state level advocacy efforts. We recognize that the impact of state participation benefits extends far beyond their monetary value, but also know that this is an important metric in public sector decision making. Beyond a numerical value, our objective is truly to be of service to our state partners, and we hope to work more closely with these agencies in FY22.

WESTAF endorsed the Creative Economy Revitalization Act, a new piece of legislation sponsored by U.S. Representative Teresa Leger Fernandez (D-NM)  alongside 175 organizations nationally. This legislation is co-sponsored by Representatives Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Chellie Pingree (D-ME), and Ted Lieu (D-CA). The Senate bill will be co-sponsored by Senators Martin Heinrich (D-NM) and Alex Padilla (D-CA). We encourage our networks to inform themselves about this vital effort and support the measure with their members of Congress. The bill seeks funding through the Department of Labor and NEA to provide grants for various public-facing creative workforce projects across the country. WESTAF, the Western Arts Advocacy Network, and a range of organizations are also working with Be an #ArtsHero/Arts Workers United on a joint advocacy strategy in support of the Creative Economy Revitalization Act (CERA). Be an #ArtsHero/Arts Workers United is a 100% volunteer-run, intersectional grassroots campaign of Arts & Culture workers, Unions, and institutions in the United States pushing the Senate to allocate proportionate relief to the arts and culture sector of the American economy.

David has been invited to serve as a panelist for SD Design Week, which will convene hundreds of design professionals across creative industries from San Diego/Tijuana and globally to exchange knowledge, connect with peers, and explore both how this work is being done and consider the future of the sector. The Creative Economy: Moving Forward from Local to Global session will provide insight into the impact of COVID-19 on the creative economy, the challenges and opportunities creative industry groups are facing in a post-pandemic world, and the inclusive growth potential for San Diego’s creative future on both a local and global level that centers equity and humanity within these important sectors. Fellow panelists include former United Nations creative economy head Edna Dos Santos-Duisenberg; Mai Nguyen, faculty director of the University of California San Diego Design Lab; and Jason Schupbach, dean of the Westphal College of Media Arts and Design at Drexel University.

As of 8/20, 105 applications have been received for the Manager of Public Policy and Advocacy position. After a review of applications, interviews will begin in September with a view to having the Manager appointed in October 2021.

Becca and Amy are working with the Employers Council to update the employee handbook for the distributed workplace along with other HR policies. Amy was out most of this week participating in the first Leadership Resource Team retreat held in Colorado Springs. Becca continues the hiring and process with two positions open and four new staff moving through the onboarding process. Jess and Becca are progressing with changing WESTAF’s mailing address so all mail will be handled by a mail house where it will be scanned and checks deposited. Becca’s work with Paylocity continues as she coordinates the updating of staff vacation accruals and other staff data. Lauren has hired a new Finance Coordinator who will start in early September. Becky continues to support Anika and David regarding National Endowment for the Arts funds and requests. Amy is moving forward with calculations to request the employer tax credit (ERTC) for two quarters as well as compiling documentation to request forgiveness of the second Paycheck Protection Plan loan (PPP) received in February.

The MarComm team is in the process of finalizing the FY22 tech product marketing plans and has set a deadline to have them completed prior to the monthly marketing meetings that will be held throughout September. We continue to see some great activity through our social media channels around the Creative Vitality™ Summit and are working towards launching several social media initiatives in the coming weeks. We are also busy drafting a marketing and social media plan for the newest CVSuite project around data education and are continuing to track our activity on the two paid social media campaigns we launched at the beginning of August.   

The MarComm team held their first annual retreat with the help and facilitation of Valerie Atkin. August’s WESTAF Now has been compiled and was shared on Wednesday, August 18. With now more than 200 registrations to the Creative Vitality™ Summit, we are focusing on drafting further communications to speakers and participants leading up to the event, in addition to continuing to make updates to the Summit website, thanks to newly confirmed speakers, panelists and partners, as well as a new resources page currently in the works. As WESTAF’s fiscal year 2021 quickly comes to a close, the MarComm team also continues to focus on the completion of the master communications plan for FY22. We are also ramping up planning for the in-person October board meeting in Denver.

Cohort leadership met on Monday to discuss cohort workshops for the annual meeting in October. The group discussed ways to improve the strategic plan cohorts, held a discussion to determine the goals of the cohorts as they were originally created, and discussed ways to create pride within the cohorts.

Blair wrapped up some automation research on the flow of information from PandaDoc, our contract signature service, into Google Sheets for more finance efficiency. She and Natalie V. continue to work on fixes to the CaFE admin UI during our 45-day warranty period. Christina is finalizing updates to the business department job descriptions and completed a contract negotiation for the City of Los Altos, resulting in them signing with CaFE. She also met with the director of IT for the American Craft Council, along with Mareike and Ken, and we’re feeling confident they will sign back onto ZAPP in the near future. 

CaFE, along with other WESTAF programs, is working on adding multi-factor verification to offer clients an additional layer of security when signing-in. We expect this work to be completed at the start of the new year. The project management team is also wrapping up a few post-release UI issues that were reported since our release a couple of weeks ago. This month’s CaFE Spotlight blog post will feature Artspace 111–more to come on that!

The CVSuite team is finalizing the first video in our DataEd series. Brandon recorded the voice over, Kelly has prepared the visuals, and Natalie will be spending time finishing up the animation this week for a first draft. Our official launch date is September 13. In marketing, CVSuite launched the Q4 sales campaign on August 11 and is preparing the marketing plan for DataEd. In tech, we will release our newest enhancement on September 14, which will include fixing the natural return state of the industry pulls as well as adding to the snapshot report.The team is preparing for the Colorado Creative Industries conference and Trevor is collaborating with Colorado Makerspace on a presentation. 

GO Smart released a bug fix updating custom reports for admins. Previously, when an admin included the NEA template in their cycle and pulled a custom report including that page, the data skewed at the column “Populations Benefited by Race.” This release also included an enhancement to clear up confusion in naming on the custom narrative and calculation pages by changing the header from Questions to Question Title. Final Report building was completed for Miami Beach. Jessica began a rough draft for a DEI space on the Knowledge Base and will meet with David next week to flesh out some additional plans to showcase WESTAF’s DEI/SRI work to the GO Smart audience. Jessica continues to overhaul the business rules document. Natalie S. wrote a blog for the GO Smart site that showcases the Creative Vitality Summit. 

PAA finalized Mural Arts Philadelphia’s Collection Showcase page after completing the first batch of mural migrations to PAA’s publicly accessible database. Lori is preparing to present in LYRASIS’ Community Collections Spotlight webinar series on the topic of activating public art data. 

ZAPP has started a researching phase so we can draft an enhancement ticket for an interactive booth map. This is a feature that is widely requested and while it won’t be developed this fiscal year, we are hoping to release it before the calendar year ends. We have also been working on fixing a few bugs that arose with both Onsite and JuryBuddy before our clients start using those softwares more widely in the next few months. We are also working on implementing MFA (multi-factor authentication) for all admin credentials. 


Respectfully Submitted,