Greetings WESTAF Nation:
Hey there! Lots going on, including some people transition. This can be hard on a community, and has additionally taxed emotions and capacity, no doubt about it! Looking ahead, there is lots of exciting potential and possibility, but in the short term, well, it’s been rough. Much gratitude and respect to my WESTAF colleagues for stepping up to the challenge, and thank you to trustee leadership for the support and wise counsel. Here’s what’s been going on at WESTAF for the last few weeks:
JANUARY FINANCIALS (AH)
The January cash summary is available to view. A line was added towards the bottom (line 39) to calculate the income and expense for this year without the Mellon subawards. We are on track with income and expense at around 30% for both (removing Mellon). Similar to last month, the total income from the software business without ZAPP is very similar to last year’s total. This is a good sign that the businesses are continuing despite the pandemic. A note that the 2nd PPP loan was received in February so that is not included in the January cash summary.
FINANCE AND ADMINISTRATION (AH)
The 990 tax form draft has been received and is being reviewed by Amy prior to finalizing and sharing with the executive committee and board. The audit draft is still in review with Plante Moran. Research is beginning on potential meeting rooms and coworking spaces once WESTAF’s lease ends in December. There are many options and the leadership team is determining how much in-person meeting space would be needed.
UPCOMING ARTS LEADERSHIP & ADVOCACY SEMINAR ONLINE (DH)
This Wednesday and Thursday, WESTAF will host the Arts Leadership and Advocacy Seminar Online. Beginning with a welcome by Tamara, Christian, and David that will be broadcast in the virtual lobby at 8:30am on Wednesday 2/24, the program will include four sessions over two days featuring 12 panelists. Members of the Policy Cohort will be moderating the participant Q&A portion in each of these sessions. So far, we’ve received 91 registrations for the event. If you haven’t already registered, please register on the event site and select the sessions you’d like to attend. You will also be able to preview the event and test your system on the site. Thanks again to the Covenings Team for getting us to this point with aplomb.
CREATIVE ECONOMIES AND ECONOMIC RECOVERY RESEARCH TO BE FEATURED IN NASAA LEARNING SERIES IN MARCH (DH)
On March 11, David, Professor Doug Noonan of Indiana University, George Tzougros, executive director of Wisconsin Arts Board, and Karen Mittleman, executive director of the Vermont Arts Council, will join NASAA staff for a discussion of the findings of the Arts and Economy Recovery research project and strategies for state arts agencies to pursue to connect the creative sector to state economic recovery efforts. This will be the first of NASAA’s 2021 Learning Series for their state arts agency members, which replace their in person NASAA Assembly. The speakers and the NASAA team participated in a planning session for the webinar on 2/20.
WESTAF AND WAAN THANK MEMBERS OF CONGRESS FOR THEIR SUPPORT OF HR 133 COMPREHENSIVE APPROPRIATIONS ACT 2021 (DH)
WESTAF has submitted thank you letters to the sponsors, including Congressman Sherman of California, of the HR 133 bill, which morphed into the most recent federal relief package. WESTAF also created a template for letters that Western Arts Advocacy Network (WAAN) members can send to their members of Congress based on their voting record for the bill. These letters also incorporate recommendations for the current relief package being considered by members of Congress drawn from a recent CAG COVID relief statement.
WESTAF CONTRIBUTES TO CAG POLICY RECOMMENDATIONS ON THE ARTS AND COVID RELIEF (DH)
WESTAF collaborated with other Cultural Advocacy Group members on drafting The Arts Sector and COVID-19 Relief, a recently released two-page statement outlining opportunities for the arts to be supported in the latest COVID-19 relief package currently under consideration in Congress. This statement builds on similar messages delivered by the arts sector in 2020. Please feel welcome to complete the Sign-On Form to indicate your organization’s support for the statement if you feel it is appropriate. Endorsements will be collected on a rolling basis, and organizational names will be added to the document over time.
WOMEN’S SUFFRAGE MURAL PROJECT SITE SELECTED AND PLANNING UNDERWAY (LM)
Lani Morris and Lori Goldstein are leading an Arts Endowment and Women’s Suffrage Commission funded initiative that aims to create a Women’s Suffrage mural in the region. With support from the City of Denver, a site in the Montbello neighborhood has been identified and a National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) and National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) questionnaire submitted to ensure compliance with federal policies. The team is now working to define the artist selection process and other aspects of the project.
CNMI CARES RELIEF FUND GRANTS AWARDED TO 12 ARTISTS (DH)
In the most recent round of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) CARES Relief Fund for Artists and Organizations, 12 artists were awarded grants of between $2,000 and $5,000 to support the recovery of their artistic practice from projects and opportunities canceled by the pandemic. A total of $49,000 is being disbursed to artists in this round. We awarded $50,000 to three organizations – 500 Sails ($20,000), Mount Carmel School ($15,000), and Isla Montessori School ($15,000) – in earlier rounds. In total, we have awarded $99,000 (86% of the available grant funds of $114,600) and $15,600 (14%) is remaining. The program will close with the April cycle.
SRI TRANSITION (DH)
Friday, February 12 was Madalena Salazar’s last day on staff as Manager of Social Responsibility and Inclusion. Madalena will be continuing to work with the SRI team on a contract basis during the transition focused primarily on managing the WESTAF Emerging Leaders of Color Program and Leaders of Color Network.
DIRECTOR OF SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY AND INCLUSION SELECTED (DH)
An offer was made to and accepted by the top candidate for the Director of Social Responsibility and Inclusion position. An announcement will follow in the coming weeks and the new SRI Director has a provisional start date of April 1, 2021.
PERFORMING ARTS DISCOVERY (PAD) V2 PROGRAM CONCEPT SUBMITTED TO THE NATIONAL ENDOWMENT FOR THE ARTS BY RAOS (DH)
Tim Wilson (Western Arts Alliance), Joy Young (South Arts), Adam Perry (Arts Midwest), and David met to discuss the evolution of the Performing Arts Discovery program and have submitted a joint RAO program concept to the Partnerships team at the Arts Endowment that they will present to the National Council on the Arts (their board) in March. Under the proposed program, WESTAF would be the lead partner and provide Endowment support to the Western Arts Alliance to develop a national initiative designed to raise the profile of artists in international markets, particularly BIPOC artists.
STRATEGIC PLAN (NS)
The policy cohort is finalizing a date to meet with their Trustee Advisors in March. Some advisors have already begun reviewing the scoping doc, posing thoughtful questions to the group. Justine and Janae are attending Arts Leadership & Advocacy Seminar (ALAS) planning meetings and have determined the cohort will assist in the facilitation of the Q&A portion following each session. Session assignments were finalized at the cohort meeting on Thursday, February 18th, with ALAS taking place virtually on February 24th and 25th. The equity cohort sent an anonymous survey to staff to collect feedback for the creation of WESTAF’s value statement. Key words relating to the strategic plan‘s goals and objectives are being used to give staff more context around defining these equity based values. The survey will be open until next Friday, February 26.
Each month the technology team spends 2 days reflecting on the past month and planning resources and actions for the next month with each program. Within GoSmart we have identified 3 issues that are impacting our client and their user’s experience that need to be corrected. This month there were some setbacks with the Public Art Archive but we have also taken great strides forward. Our new technology partner Code Care Pro was able to deliver their first set of enhancements to our web applications and WordPress plugins for the Archive and we were able to deploy those changes to the cloud. As of February 8th, 10 out of 16 client systems have been migrated to the latest collection management system. CaFe’s new client experience continues to be worked on diligently by our lead developer Jon Cantwell and the BRI team.
The marketing team sent a follow-up to the CaFÉ Art Galleries email campaign on 2/17 to 273 galleries and received an open rate of 27%. In this phase of the campaign, we are offering a free promotional eblast to galleries that sign up with CaFÉ before March 31. Leah and Sam used the CaFE personas developed by Raquel in FY21/Q1 to tailor the message appropriately, and Ken has three qualifying leads to follow up with as a result of these efforts. Justine is revising the promotional eblast page with updated verbiage, styling, and a highlight of benefits. The e-blast add-on service is growing and has the potential to bring in over $23K to CaFE. On the tech side, a couple of planned improvements have been moved to FY22 due to higher costs for the admin UI, work that is extensive and much-needed. Natalie is revising the planned work schedule and adjusting the timeline accordingly.
CVSuite is working on closing two new sales, Nevada Arts Council and Arkansans for the Arts partnering with Cache Arts. Nevada has recently increased the value of their contract from two years to four years, for a final value of $22,400. We have a demo scheduled with Arkansas on March 1. We have a new sales lead for a project sponsored by Wayne State University and a continuation of previous research using CVSuite data published in the Journal of Urban Affairs. In other news, CVSuite will be pushing the code-grouping enhancement on schedule next week.
GO SMART (JG)
Jessica is working closely with the San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture as they administer an unusual RFQ/RFP process. Several agencies are reporting confusion regarding the cached HTML/PDF preview process so the team is working on an enhancement that should clear the cache regularly and provide a more up-to-date preview. A promising lead, VIA Art Fund in Boston, has put their search on hold until the fall or winter. Marketing is working on a third engagement that will come directly from Jessica to those who opened the past two mass marketing campaigns.
PUBLIC ART ARCHIVE (LG)
PAA is getting ready to launch This We Believe, a new virtual exhibition organized by Mural Arts Philadelphia. PAA also completed the onboarding process for Sunnyvale, CA and will launch their Collection Showcase and map on March 1. PAA is also solidifying a proposal to host the virtual exhibition for Art of Recovery, a program organized by Santa Monica Cultural Affairs.
We’re continuing to transition customers to EFT, and after a slight change to the invitation/signup process, we’re seeing an even better response rate in February than we did in January. Julia is working on two Google Adwords campaigns, one targeted to event administrators and another targeted toward artists. Some of the estimates for technical work on our roadmap have come in higher than anticipated, so we’re looking at what enhancements and changes will need to be moved to FY22. We continue to fine tune our projections process, and even without a new report we’ve created for ZAPP slated to launch next week, we were within 5% accuracy for total revenue in the month of January.