Dear WESTAF Board of Trustees:
It’s been an exciting few weeks! Lots of activity, but here are some of the highlights:
Strategic Plan Launch!
On Wednesday 5/29 and Thursday 5/30, the WESTAF team formally launched their Ten Year Vision and Strategic Plan! This consisted of a “StratPlan Faire,” which included training around this Agenda, and focusing in on this Strategic Plan Cohort FAQ. Each individual cohort split up into their group together for the first time to self-organize and also to review a preliminary Scoping Document (in this case, the Thought Leadership & Reach/Communications Scoping Doc), and to ultimately develop their own. However, the real highlight of the two-day session was valuable coaching and group development and leadership time spent with Val Atkin, who dived into some warmly received and immensely helpful Enneagram work as well as some other discussions and team exercises around concepts like “100% Responsibility,” “The Cost of Quiet,” “Team Optimization,” and “Above/Below The Line” work. At the conclusion of the agenda and this invaluable team-building time, we celebrated the launch of this ten-year plan with happy hour at a local restaurant and an “official” fun ribbon-cutting moment! (If you only look at one link, look at this one!)
As of May 30, 2019, the WESTAF Strategic Plan has now officially launched (woot!). I’ll be checking in periodically about our progress with the Executive Committee and with all trustees through this bi-weekly update. The next significant update will be from each cohort at the October BOT meeting in Denver!
BAR CAT Progress
The leadership team has compiled updated job descriptions for their teams in the new BAR CAT model and will be working with their teams on these changes between now and October when the new structure will be implemented. WESTAF leadership and project managers are beginning the budgeting process for FY20. The first early draft will be compiled by June 21st so leadership can then work with their teams to adjust as necessary to get to a draft to share with the treasurer in August and the Executive Committee in September.
Thank you to the trustees at the May BOT Bozeman meeting for your invaluable help and feedback on the newly drafted WESTAF Guiding Principles. This was a super-helpful exercise and yielded a lot of valuable input that we’ll be incorporating into the next Guiding Principles version. Please stay tuned. Our plan is to work within the Communications cohort to develop a final resolution that can be adopted by the whole organization through a board resolution at the October BOT meeting.
Performance Evaluation Progress
During the StratPlan Faire, Amy gave an all-team presentation on WESTAF’s Performance Management process moving forward. We will have a rough budget by the end of June and will be able to nail down staff salaries at that time. Therefore, it makes more sense to hold off on the “transition” review process until August when that information is known. The staff will plan on conducting transitional reviews in mid to late August. This document is the best outline of what will be covered in these meetings (which includes telling them their new salary, bonus and discuss changes to their job description), there are some purple updates since the StratPlan Faire. A custom document to sign during these reviews will be prepared, where the basics of the new performance management process is outlined along with individual compensation, and value of all benefits as an annual snapshot of total compensation.
FY20 Budgeting Progress
The WESTAF team is now underway with the FY20 Budgeting process. Once we have the first round of all department numbers, the document will freeze as Version 1. Then, we’re on to the next version and each team budget stakeholder will carefully track any changes they’ve made from the prior version in their own budget documentation, then save changes as Version 2, etc. If income or expense numbers are dramatically different than the projections or the FY19 budget, there is a section in the budget planning document to explain why. These are the items leadership will want further information on right off the bat. We are targeting a Version 1 budget by June 21st. After that, the Leadership Team will work on further versions and adjustments with individual Project Managers.
Just received word that Matt Virlee, technology solutions manager, has tendered his resignation. Matt was one of our small (three person) technology team and he’ll be missed. His last day is June 16.
Rural Generation Summit
Chrissy Deal and I were joined by Hunter Old Elk (Cody, WY and ELC17) and Tey Marianna Nunn (former trustee and current MAC member) in Mississippi May 22-24 for the Rural Generation Summit. The convening brought together cultural and community leaders from across the country to explore the various identities, opportunities and realities of rural America. The WESTAF delegation had the opportunity to connect with folks from various organizations and communities from across the country, including NASAA, several of our fellow RAOs, other state arts agencies and national organizations. The “roving plenaries” format meant attendees had a chance to see and directly experience rural places, including Sipp Culture and Hinds Community College Utica Campus, a Historically Black College and University (HBCU) in Utica, MS. We listened, we shared, we felt the humidity, we ATE! One of the considerations the conference brought into focus for the WESTAF contingent was the varied dimensions of the rural West. Chrissy looks forward to following up with new contacts and connecting with Tey and Hunter to help inform WESTAF’s engagement with rural communities in the future.
SAAPAD is Underway.
Today (June 3) and Tomorrow (June 4), SAAPAD (our annual State Arts Agency and Performing Arts Consortia Professional Development Session) is meeting here in Denver. Here’s the complete agenda for the convening. I will be heading down to the June 4 sessions to meet the participants, have lunch and thank them for their involvement.
Upcoming SAA ED Briefing Call
The next SAA ED Briefing call is scheduled for next Monday, June 10. The briefing is designed to update WESTAF-region state arts agency executive directors on matters related to WESTAF, as an update on the most recent WESTAF BOT meeting and on actions of the recent WESTAF board that may impact their work. Topics will also include consensus-building around the when/where/why of the next SAA ED Forum.
Upcoming SAA Trips
As previously reported, in the coming months I will be meeting California Arts Council ED Anne Bown-Crawford at the Creative Placemaking Pacific Summit in Los Angeles, and then presenting the following week, June 25, at the California Arts Council commission meeting near Sacramento. In July, I’ll be heading to Honolulu to spend time with trustee Jonathan Johnson and to present to Hawaii’s SFCA board and attend further meetings, including FESTPAC leadership. In August, I will be joining trustee Karen Hanan in Yakima and Tieton, WA to offer a presentation at an ArtsWA commissioners meeting. In addition, there is an Anchorage visit in development for August to coincide with the visit of Mary Anne Carter from the Endowment.
Last week, an $11.8 billion fiscal year 2020 budget was passed by the Arizona State Legislature and signed into law by Governor Doug Ducey, which included $2.2 million dedicated to the arts in Arizona. The allocation includes a one-time $2 million General Fund appropriation to support the Arizona Commission on the Arts’ statewide grantmaking activities. This appropriation repeats a similar one-time investment made in the previous year, ensuring level funding for the Arts Commission’s fiscal year 2020. Additionally, the newly adopted state budget provides for a $200,000 General Fund appropriation for a nonprofit professional theater in Maricopa County. While this is good news, it’s also nearly impossible for the Arts Commission to plan more than one year out, as long as arts funding is zeroed out at the beginning of each legislative session. This compromises the quality of their otherwise excellent statewide programs.
ZAPP continues to operate successfully and the volume of business transactions remains high. So far this fiscal year, we’ve acquired 34 new clients, processed more that 300 contract renewals, and secured more than 75 e-blasts. Nearly $21 million have flown through the ZAPP checkout (pass-through sales), and more than $125,000 applications have been submitted. We’ve also seen a 10% increase since the start of FY19 in the number of active artist profiles. We’re continuing to offer EFT payments to a select group of customers; these payments have totaled nearly $1.5M this fiscal year. If you are not already signed up to receive EFT payments and you would like to, please let me know and I’ll arrange this for you. Finally, the team is assessing the viability of an integration with Jaspersoft, a reporting and analytics platform. This software may allow us to easily create, retrieve, and present reports with the data in ZAPP — reports and business intelligence tools that can be used internally and externally for our customers. An integration with a platform like this is more desirable than building our own reports from scratch because of the scarcity of developer resources and the timeframe in which it may take to complete such a project; however, we are still weighing the benefits and cost of this integration.
As a conclusory note, I will be on vacation from Thursday, June 13-Wednesday, June 19, then attending the CPL Summit in Los Angeles from June 20-23, then heading to Sacramento the following week, before heading back to San Francisco the following weekend for a wedding. This mix of vacation and work time means that I will be OOTO from June 13-July 1, although always in close touch with the office and my colleagues.
Please don’t hesitate to be in touch with any questions or comments you might have about these items or anything. Thank you for your stewardship and support as WESTAF trustees!