November 1, 2021
Greetings WESTAF colleagues:
Feels funny to send you this biweekly after we have shared so much together this past week! So full of pride and gratitude for our WESTAF community — I hope you are, too. Thank you again to the many who played such an important role in making this past week such a huge success. For those who traveled to Denver, hope you made it home without too much of a hassle! Lots of good information is below in this (briefer than usual) biweekly, so thanks as well to all of our contributors! Read on:
PROPOSAL SUBMITTED TO HEWLETT FOUNDATION TO DELIVER AN ADVOCACY AND POLICY SEMINAR IN THE BAY AREA (DH)
WESTAF has submitted a proposal to the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation to deliver arts advocacy capacity building for the Bay Area per their invitation following nearly a year of conversation between David and the Foundation’s Performing Arts team. WESTAF Board Chair Tamara Alvarado has agreed to be an advisor for the program, given her knowledge of Bay Area communities. WESTAF will deliver an arts advocacy and cultural policy seminar for a group of arts and cultural leaders over 14 months with a view to establish a unified coalition with an arts advocacy agenda.
WESTAF INVITED TO PARTNER ON THE DESIGN OF GRANTMAKERS IN THE ARTS FUNDED LEARNING + ACTION LAB FOCUSED ON ADVANCING RACIAL JUSTICE THROUGH INTERSECTIONAL CULTURAL POLICY (DH)
David has been invited to join a small group of five advisors, including NASAA CEO Pam Breaux, who will co-design an arts policy learning lab with Jen Cole of ASU Herberger Institute on Design and the Arts and Randy Engstrom, who co-directed the inaugural Creative Vitality™ Summit. The group will begin their work in November 2021, with an anticipated program launch in 2022.
WESTAF DEPUTY DIRECTOR TO DELIVER AMERICANS FOR THE ARTS ARTS AND CULTURAL EQUITY STUDIO SESSION WITH CHICAGO COMMUNITY TRUST PROGRAM MANAGER OF COMMUNITY IMPACT SANDRA APONTE (DH)
Following a presentation to the Arts & Culture Leaders of Color (ACLC) Fellowship in January, Nikki Kirk, equity in arts leadership program manager at Americans for the Arts, recently invited David to participate in a dialogue with Sandra Aponte, program manager of community impact at the Chicago Community Trust about equitable grantmaking and the ways in which emerging leaders, particularly leaders of color, can advance this practice.
WESTAF REPRESENTED ON GRASSROOTS ADVOCACY PANEL AT WYOMING ARTS SUMMIT ALONGSIDE WYOMING LOBBYIST AND WYOMING WOMEN’S FOUNDATION (DH)
David has been invited to serve on a panel “Grassroots Advocacy – From a Single Seed” at the Wyoming Arts Summit on 11/2/21. WAAN member Wyoming Arts Alliance organized the panel and will also include Erin Taylor of Taylor Strategies & Consulting LLC, the WESTAF supported lobbyist in Wyoming, and Rebekah Smith, director, Wyoming Women’s Foundation. The panel description reads: “Your voice and your vote are the most important arts advocacy tools. Merge those tools with like-minded others in your community and you become a powerful local force for the arts. Find out more about how succeeding as an arts advocate starts small and begins with your neighbors.”
ELC ALUMNA CYNTHIA CHEN SELECTED FOR MANAGER OF PUBLIC POLICY AND ADVOCACY POSITION (DH)
2017 ELC Alumna Cynthia Chen has accepted our offer to serve as WESTAF’s first Manager of Public Policy and Advocacy and will start at WESTAF in January 2022. Cynthia was formerly a legislative and administrative fellow at the Utah Cultural Alliance and worked in fund development for SpyHop Productions in Salt Lake City. She is known to and respected by our state arts agency and state arts advocacy network colleagues. She recently finished up a public policy master’s program with a specialty in cultural policy at Paris Institute of Political Studies (Sciences Po), a globally recognized French university. Most recently, she served as the Marketing and Merchandise Assistant at Centre Pompidou, Europe’s largest collection of modern and contemporary art. Cynthia will truly be an asset to WESTAF as we expand our work in cultural policy and arts advocacy. Please do not share this information outside of WESTAF ahead of our public announcement. Thanks to WESTAF trustee and Utah Arts and Museums director Victoria Bourns for serving on the search committee alongside Najean Lee, director of government affairs and education policy, League of American Orchestras; Christina Villa; Jade Elyssa Cariaga; and Justine Chapel. Thanks also to Anika Kwinana for reviewing candidate interview recordings and making recommendations.
ADVOCACY FUNDS PROGRAM MOVING TO GO SMART (MH/DH)
Jessica Gronich has supported the AAP team, Moana and David, to transition the Advocacy Funds program, now in its sixteenth year, to GO Smart. The program had been managed previously through a Google Form application and final reporting process. This shift continues work begun in the fall of 2019 to increase the sophistication of the program’s design while streamlining processes.
WESTAF HOSTS DISART TRAININGS DURING THE ANNUAL MEETINGS (AK)
DisArt is a production company and arts and culture organization that focuses its energy on creating public art events that cultivate and communicate a disability culture. SRI worked with DisArt to conduct professional development sessions for WESTAF’s trustees and staff during the annual meeting. Planning included consultations with each member of WESTAF’s Leadership Resource Team (LRT) to determine goals to more deeply integrate disability frameworks into each team. After further discussion and planning with SRI, DisArt distributed a pre-session survey to ascertain trustee and staff current knowledge of disability culture. The trainings took place first with the Equity and Inclusion Committee on Wednesday, October 27 and then with trustees and staff on Thursday, October 28. Next steps include further discussion with the LRT on practical ways to implement knowledge into our work and a post-assessment survey that will be sent from DisArt to all participants within the next two weeks.
WESTAF PARTICIPATES IN SOUTH ARTS EMERGING LEADERS OF COLOR CHECK-IN SESSION (AK)
South Arts convened the alumni of the first cohort of their Emerging Leaders of Color program (ELC). SRI participated in the conversation as alumni and guest speakers shared on the topic. Of the six alumni participants in the session, one-third have been promoted into executive level positions since their participation in the ELC. WESTAF and South Arts will continue to track this data in their respective programs. The second South Arts cohort application process is underway, with an early February 2022 start planned.
As the first month of Q1 comes to an end, the MarComm team has been conducting research and rethinking what types of creative avenues we want to take in FY22 to better reach our audiences. We are in the process of drafting a MarComm Recap and Report for FY21 with detailed metrics across various products, programs, and services to evaluate our work over the past year and reflect on our wins, losses, and what we can improve on for the new fiscal year. The team has also begun a self-paced Humanity-Centered UI/UX Course that is made up of 5 modules and 26 sub-lessons to help UX and tech professionals deepen their awareness and practices in navigating deeper UX topics with humility, openness, and courage so that they can understand how to craft equitable and inclusive experiences.
Along with providing support for the annual board meeting, the MarComm team completed their FY21 close-out meetings in Insights and are working on inputting their FY22 goals and responsibilities. As part of this process, we will be scaffolding out initiatives and timelines as they relate to these projects and we’ll also be kicking off our initial FY22 planning meetings with product teams in the coming weeks to discuss timelines and strategy for marketing initiatives and activities for the year. The team closed out the Creative Vitality™ Summit post-event survey on Friday, October 22, with almost 40 responses, and is currently compiling feedback provided to improve future events.
FINANCE AND ADMINISTRATION (AH)
The whole department participated in the board meeting events this past week as well as worked on preparing documents as necessary. The September financials were included in the board meeting documents and can be reviewed here on page 16. As the memo summarizes, WESTAF’s year-end deficit is approximately -$200,000 when the NEA payment timing is removed. This is lower than the budgeted -$300,000 deficit. A reminder that the deficit for FY21 and for the FY22 budget is covered by the cash surplus gained in FY20. In addition to the financials, the FY22 budget (page 11) and a revised investment policy (page 22) were reviewed and approved by the board. Audit preparation continues with a deadline of this Friday to ensure all income adjustments are posted within the financial system.
GENERAL BUSINESS (CV)
Excited to report that we’ve signed up for a self-paced professional development course from Hmnty Cntrd, a BIPOC-owned company working to help professionals think about UI/UX from a more inclusive lens. Members of the business department, marketing and communications, and tech teams were given the opportunity to participate. Natalie V. and Christina also spent time in the Sherman office boxing up files and preparing for the liquidation, in addition to Blair, Ken, Natalie V., and Christina attending several in-person and virtual staff and board meeting activities. It was great to see everyone!
We’re investigating a data integrity issue with a critical report the finance team uses to assess post-deadline fees in CaFÉ. Though we have a workaround until we fix the report, our team needs to determine the scope of the issue and a plan to address it. The bug ticket is currently with BRI for development with a deadline of 10/3/21 to resolve. In positive news, we signed the South Dakota Arts Council, a longtime GO Smart customer, and this week, we are releasing a new feature that improves the search filters, sorts, and keyword search on the artist side of CaFÉ.
CVSuite has kicked off the fiscal year with a strong sales and demo push. In the last two weeks, CVS has completed five demos. Assembly for the Arts (formerly Arts Cleveland) is a former client and has returned looking for an updated pricing quote that reflects the new data needs of a newly formed organization with a new director. The Idaho Arts Commission is launching a new cultural district program and is looking to use CVS for their pilot of the program of the west-central mountain economic region and for use by the commission. Louisiana Office of Cultural Affairs and College of Design Palm Springs are lukewarm demos but are exploring CVS as they both have objectives to better utilize data. Finally, New Hampshire State Arts Council is excited about the tool and is proposing a license for their RAO and the six states in the NEFA constituency. The demo requests came through in early October and late September in direct correlation with our marketing pushes for the Creative Vitality Summit.
GO SMART (JG)
Jessica conducted a demo with the Arts department of LA Metro and brainstormed ways to use the system to house a public artist database from which they can steer appropriate candidates for specific projects. Jessica continues to work with Chattanooga Arts as they get closer to selecting a GMS SaaS. Jessica has built a Letter of Interest to Participate (i.e., pre-application) for SouthArts’ Cultural Treasures program. Jessica has met with David and Moana to move the annual Advocacy Funds application from a Google form to GO Smart and has built out the initial application. Jessica, SRI, AAP, and finance will begin a plan to collect WESTAF grantee’s EFT information using Formstack. GO Smart will be releasing an enhancement on 11/4 to offer local admin and panelists the opportunity to use Multi-factor authentication to log in to admin.gosmart.org. They will have the option to opt-out initially or to use email or an app for authentication.
PUBLIC ART ARCHIVE (LG)
Lori has spent a lot of time over the past two weeks at the site of the WESTAF Women’s Suffrage Mural, as the artwork has sustained a great deal of damage because of the artist’s choice of materials. With the help of Stephanie Villa, the team has attempted to mitigate as much damage as possible and touch-up areas to make it presentable from the roadway; however, the artist will repaint the mural in Spring of 2022, so Lori is working on a plan to resolve the current state of the mural with the District 11 Office. In better news, the PAA technical team has successfully learned how to set up new client collection management systems and deploy all of PAA’s platforms.
Last Friday, we completed our annual Oversight Committee meeting, where we finalized our budget for FY22! Typically in these meetings, we also vote to approve a partner payout; however, for the second year in a row, we were unable to provide a payout to our partners (including WESTAF). While the meeting went smoothly, the preparation was the hardest part there, so a big shoutout to Julia for helping create the visual presentation. Additionally, we are in the midst of our fall Jury Buddy season. Our Jury Buddy process is always very time-consuming, and shifting this process to a distributed workplace has been difficult. Tim took the lead for Jury Buddy this year and his hard work there was definitely noticed by our clients, who have only had good things to say!