Dear WESTAF trustees:
Usually, this bi-weekly recap finds its way to you on Mondays, but I’m getting a bit of jump on it this week, and no shortage of activity on the WESTAF front! More information coming at ya! Questions? By all means reach out! Here we go:
SNEAK PREVIEW OF OCTOBER BOARD OF TRUSTEES MEETING IN DENVER
Plans for our October 23 – 24 trustees meeting are coming together. We should have a hotel and meeting location to announce soon! It’s going to be a jam-packed few days, with planned encounters between trustees and staff (at cocktails and dinner the night before the meeting, as well as a kind of “BAR CAT Gallery” before lunch during the board meeting where trustees will be able to circulate among WESTAF departments and divisions to get a sense of progress, aspirations, challenges and ways to plug into the strategic plan). This, combined with a discussion of our FY20 Budget, a slate of new trustees, a few trustee farewells, board and committee leadership transition, some valuable time for celebration and reflection with our outgoing MAC members and a “What’s Happening in the West?” presentation all make this meeting one not to be missed! See you in Denver!
Chrissy Deal and I attended the Kennedy Center’s annual LEAD Conference conveniently held in Denver August 3-7. It was a wonderful opportunity to meet new colleagues working in the arts and disability space from across the country and re-connect with WESTAF-region state arts agency staff. As a first time attendee, Chrissy came away with a number of ideas about how to integrate accessibility into WESTAF’s social responsibility and inclusion work as well as our physical workspace. She looks forward to deepening relationships with networks like Denver’s Art of Access Alliance and other disability community leaders to explore the intersectional aspects of equity work.
BUDGET & FINANCE
WESTAF has a completed budget for FY20. We are compiling a narrative to discuss with the board treasurer later this week. The budget and memo will be included in the Executive Committee packet and will then go to the full board in October. The staff is also compiling multi-year budgets for FY21 and FY22 which will be shared with the board in October. A revised employee handbook draft is completed and will be reviewed by a lawyer in August. The draft will be shared with the executive committee in September, per their request. State participation fee invoices for FY20 are on their way! If you are a state executive director, you will see it soon via email if you haven’t already.
MARY ANNE CARTER CONFIRMED AS CHAIRMAN OF NATIONAL ENDOWMENT FOR THE ARTS
The United States Senate voted on August 1 to confirm Mary Anne Carter as chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts. Carter had served as acting chairman of the agency since June 5, 2018 and becomes the Arts Endowment’s 12th chairman since its inception in 1965. I liked what NASAA had to say about her confirmation: “The National Assembly of State Arts Agencies (NASAA) is delighted to hear of Mary Anne Carter’s confirmation as chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts,” said NASAA President and CEO Pam Breaux. “Her deep engagement with state arts agencies demonstrates her dedication to the federal-state partnership that allocates 40 percent of the Endowment’s program funds to states and regions. It is clear to NASAA and to our members that Mary Anne understands the economic, educational, civic and cultural value that the arts bring to communities throughout the nation.”
RECENT WASHINGTON STATE TRIP
Just returning from a really stimulating and productive visit with ArtsWA in Washington State. Was glad to sit on a panel in Yakima about arts funding with some great participants: Tom Simplot, Senior Advisor to the Acting Chairman, National Endowment for the Arts (NEA); (our own) Karen Hanan, Executive Director, Washington State Arts Commission (ArtsWA); Miguel Guillen, Grants Manager, ArtsWA; and Sharon Miracle, Executive Director, Yakima Community Foundation. Moderated by Noel Moxley, Chair, Yakima Arts Commission. The following day, we headed to the remarkable town of Tieton, WA for meeting of the ArtsWA commissioners, where I was able to present about what’s happening at WESTAF. I was preceded by Tom Simplot from the Arts Endowment, with whom I was able to spend a lot of really quality time (we drove back to Seattle together before our flight out). Deepening my personal relationship with the new Chairman’s first appointee was a really effective by-product of the trip. Nice person! I will be seeing Tom in Nevada in the dust at Burning Man in a few weeks, as he will be accompanying Mary Anne Carter during their August 28 US Conference of Mayor’s tour of Black Rock City.
You have been receiving periodic updates of the situation in Alaska. You know that the Governor’s Chief of Staff recently resigned, and a campaign to recall the Governor has been launched. Mary Anne Carter will be visiting Alaska in about a week and there is some movement to see if and how her visit can have an impact on the outcome of the current situation. In the meantime, ASCA Chair Ben Brown and I are planning a time to convene the ASCA Commissioners in early October to chart a path forward.
DAVID HOLLAND ANNOUNCED AS NEW DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC POLICY
This past week, we were thrilled to announce our new Director of Public Policy, David Holland. We rolled out the news on Monday to you, our trustees, WESTAF staff, SAA EDs, RAO EDs and our federal partners (NEA, AFTA, NASAA). On Wednesday, we shared widely on our social media channels. David (and WESTAF!) received lots of expressions of support and welcome — thanks to all the trustees who sent along a message! David will be starting at WESTAF later in August.
CaFE switched over to a new server instance, which unfortunately presented issues with site responsiveness. The best short-term solution was to roll back to the previous servers we were using until specific pages can be optimized for better handling. The team has also rolled out its annual customer satisfaction survey for artists and administrators; the survey closes Sept. 30.
Trevor McElhaney will join the WESTAF team as data analyst for CVSuite. The team is putting together a training plan for Trevor, who will start in early September. The team also confirmed travel for some members of the team to attend the EMSI conference in September in Idaho.
GO Smart will begin the end-of-summer marketing campaign in the coming days. We have a contract out to Arst Huntsville, a current user of ZAPP and CaFE. We have a demo with Black Belt Foundation today and had a promising demo with International League Against Epilepsy last week. Renewal payments continue to come in and we are only awaiting payment from 3 of 12 clients who renew in June/July.
PUBLIC ART ARCHIVE
The PAA team is working to finalize contracts for two new clients to the Collection Management System. PAA has continued to import new public artworks into the master repository and now holds a total of over 13,400 artworks. A major digital marketing plan that features the Collection Management System, the re-built Collection Showcase page, and Collection Maps is currently in progress and slated for distribution in late summer/early fall 2019.
YouJudgeIt continues to manage its process of sunsetting the site. The next client-wide communication goes out the week of Aug. 12. One client has already transitioned to CaFE from YouJudgeIt.
As with CaFE, ZAPP also switched over to a new server instance and then reverted to its original servers because of site responsiveness. The team is hiring for part-time customer experience coordinators. Greer Brown is moving out of state and Sarah Joel recently resigned from her position. The customer service positions provide support for both ZAPP and CaFE.
As always, thank you for your good work as WESTAF trustees!