September 20, 2021
Happy, happy Monday. We’re moments away from the kickoff of the Creative Vitality Summit! I am so proud that WESTAF is hosting this and has attracted such super partners and panelists, and I hope you are, too! This is a busy week for many, so let’s just dive in:
CREATIVE VITALITY SUMMIT OPENS TODAY – OVER 440 PEOPLE HAVE REGISTERED (DH)
Thanks to Leah Horn, Samantha Ortega, Natalie Scherlong, Moana Palelei HoChing, Kelly Ernst, Justine Chapel, Natalie Villa, Ashanti McGee, Paul Barrow, and Brandon Jay, for all of your efforts on the Creative Vitality Summit. Social media engagement has been very high in the lead up to the event and as of 9/17, registrations exceeded 440 people, making this one of the largest convenings (if not the largest) in WESTAF’s history. Please visit the event website to find out more and read this pre-conference paper to learn more about some of the topics that will be covered at the Summit. If you’d like to share about the event on your social media, please use this social media toolkit. #CreativeVitality
WESTAF EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR TELECONFERENCE WELCOMES RANDY ENGSTROM (DH)
On 9/7, WESTAF convened the executive directors of the state arts agencies in the region for a quarterly teleconference. At the teleconference, David and Randy Engstrom, independent consultant and co-director of the Creative Vitality Summit, shared an overview about the Summit and led the executive directors in a discussion about how to support the work of local arts agencies and support local arts infrastructure in their states through statewide cultural and creative districts, dedicated funding and networks, and other programs.
WESTERN ARTS ADVOCACY NETWORK CONSIDERS NEW FEDERAL ADVOCACY STRATEGY (DH)
ON 9/9, WAAN met to discuss federal advocacy strategies following a presentation and dialogue on advocacy messaging with Kelly Barsdate of the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies at the prior meeting. David delivered a presentation and led a discussion on the changing federal arts advocacy landscape and how WAAN and WESTAF can engage in federal arts advocacy moving forward, including most immediately advocacy in support of the Creative Economy Revitalization Act (a bill that WESTAF endorsed before its introduction in the U.S. House of Representatives). If you would like to contact your members of Congress about the bill, please use these direct advocacy resources developed by the national artist-led advocacy group Be An Arts Hero.
WESTAF FACILITATES THE CULTURAL ADVOCACY GROUP FOR THE FIRST TIME (DH)
WESTAF is assuming an increasing leadership role within the Cultural Advocacy Group, the national coalition of arts advocacy and arts service organizations that sets national cultural policy. David facilitated CAG’s monthly meeting for the first time on 9/13, leading discussions on the current status of the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant, the infrastructure bill and budget reconciliation, the Creative Economy Revitalization Act, the Employee Retention Tax Credit, arts education policy, and artist visa policy.
MANAGER OF PUBLIC POLICY AND ADVOCACY SEARCH (DH)
Becca Dominguez and David have completed first round interviews with eight candidates for the Manager of Public Policy and Advocacy position. Four finalists have been selected for second round interviews with the candidate review committee, and we hope to make an appointment by mid-October.
WESTAF’S DIRECTOR OF SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY AND INCLUSION INVITED TO KEYNOTE AT NEVADA MUSEUM ASSOCIATION’S ANNUAL CONFERENCE (AK)
Anika Kwinana will be the keynote speaker at the virtual annual conference of the Nevada Museum Association (NMA), to be held October 7 – 8, with the keynote on the first day during the morning sessions. This year’s theme is “We’re Back: Connecting to our Communities.”
The NMA provides support to the state’s 100+ museums by offering learning opportunities through a quarterly newsletter, annual conference and other informational workshops held throughout the year.
UPDATE ON WESTAF AMERICAN RESCUE PLAN FUND FOR ORGANIZATIONS (AK)
After a four-month process, the SRI team submitted their final funding recommendations to the Executive Committee for the WESTAF American Rescue Plan Fund for Organizations. The process has included: 1) a presentation on the WESTAF ARP to the board; 2) consultations with and input from each States Arts Agency Executive Director; 3) review of 281 eligible applications by a cross-section of 24 Western-based panelists; and, 4) final eligibility checks including staff ensuring a representative spread across the 13-state region. The Executive Committee has been asked to vote on the proposed awardees no later than September 21, as an acknowledgement of the process. The SRI team will be available to the Executive Committee for any questions or comments.
UPDATE ON THE COMMONWEALTH OF THE NORTHERN MARIANA ISLANDS AMERICAN RESCUE PLAN FUND FOR ORGANIZATIONS AND ARTISTS (AK/DH)
Anika Kwinana and David Holland met with Parker Yobel of the CNMI Arts Council to discuss the design of the CNMI ARP. Like the CNMI CARES grant program, WESTAF will offer administrative support for the process, which will include two rounds of funding cycles for organizations and for artists, reviewed by a panel of professionals in the CNMI. WESTAF anticipates that applications will open in late October. In the new program, we will be centering local review of applications; being intentional about ensuring that the program reaches the islands across the Commonwealth; engaging the CNMI Arts Council to provide technical assistance to artists and organizations submitting applications to overcome any language and technical barriers; and simplifying the application process.
WESTAF AND SOUTH ARTS PREPARE FOR SECOND EMERGING LEADERS OF COLOR PROGRAM (AK)
The SRI Team has begun a series of planning meetings with ELC faculty and South Arts to plan the second ELC cohort for the South region. The core elements of the curriculum will continue along with the addition of new content introduced by South Arts to focus on the regional experiences and needs of leaders of colors in the South region. South Arts will curate an additional day of programming to support a deeper lens on relevant experiences. They will also provide a faculty member for the program and secure guest faculty and artists. The second cohort is planned for early February.
FUNDRAISING UPDATE (CG)
Some recent progress on the fundraising front. We’re now in touch with the Wallace Foundation, and a meeting is scheduled with Bahia Ramos. Director, Arts. Christian met with Jayne Butler of the Knight Foundation. Jayne now lives in Denver and manages the Knight Foundation’s technology portfolio. This is a great connection. Tamara and Christian recently met with Patrick McGovern jr, of the Patrick J. McGovern Foundation, and the door is open for further communication there. Awaiting a response from the Satterberg Foundation regarding four ideas for potential funding, sent at their invitation. Determined to get a response for our LOI from the Sloan Foundation, since we first reached out nearly six months ago. More details in the foundation tracker here.
EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE MEETING (CG)
The executive committee will be meeting this week in Boise, Idaho. In addition to the regular work of the committee, there will be discussion topics grouped into three themes: “Mission, Goals and Culture,” “Investment, Fundraising and Grant Making,” and “Hazards, Unknowns and Existential Threats.” Should be a really interesting time together. We’ll also be meeting with Idaho-based friends of WESTAF including Michael Faison and ELC alums Dayo Ayodele, Monique Michel, and Leta Neustaeder. Also, the (vaccinations or tests mandatory) Treefort Music Festival will be happening at the same time as well, so I’m hoping to run across some (outdoors, preferably!) live music.
MISSION ALIGNED INVESTMENT EXPLORATION (CG)
Amy and Christian have been working closely with our investment advisor Tim Schott of Aton Advisors to assess some fundamental questions, like how much to commit to short term vs. long term investment strategies, our appetite for risk in a long term investment strategy, and also ensuring that our investments with WESTAF’s mission and values. We’ll be discussing this more in our executive committee meeting as well as at the annual board meeting in October.
FINANCE AND ADMINISTRATION (AH)
The F&A team is busy cleaning up this fiscal year and building new documents for FY22 which begins on October 1st. The audit prep schedule has been shared and integrated into Asana so the team knows what is due when. Amy is working with Christian on preparing for the executive committee meeting next week which will include presenting the FY22 WESTAF budget as well as a presentation from our investment broker, Tim Schott. Becca continues to push forward the hiring of two staff members. Michelle Reilly is our new Finance coordinator and she’s learning quickly! Thank you, Michelle – we’re so glad you’re on our team! WESTAF was offered and accepted a private, 8-desk office space at the Alliance Center. No change to our address – but we do have more storage and desk space at a lower rate! Thanks to Ben and Becca for moving our computers to the new space.
The MarComm team is in the home stretch of executing all social media deliverables and communications, as well as finalizing all event site assets for the Creative Vitality™ Summit! We are still in the process of refining the FY22 marketing plan drafts and will soon start compiling metrics for our annual FY21 MarComm Recap and Report. We wrapped our email campaign for CaFE (targeted at local arts agencies) and sent off a small list of warm leads to Ken for follow-up. We also re-upped GO Smart video ad campaigns on LinkedIn and Facebook, running through September to round out the fiscal year.
The MarComm team has been working toward completion of the virtual lobby and event site for the Creative Vitality™ Summit, with a newly built resources page and pre-conference paper being shared with Summit attendees and panelists. Aside from final Summit preparations, we had the pleasure of announcing two new SRI team members, Ashanti McGee and Jade Elyssa Cariaga. The team is also in the process of a staff bio update, organizational chart update (with now 37 people!), drafting the October WESTAF Now, September GO Smart blog, and refining the FY22 communications plan drafts.
STRATEGIC PLANNING COHORTS (CGREEN)
The policy cohort met on August 24 to discuss the overall results of the regional partner handbook survey. We were pleased to see that the majority of our respondents would find something like the Regional Partner Handbook to be useful for their state art agency or art advocacy organization. Our discovery phase continues this month as we research existing advocacy handbooks and discuss the elements we want to include in our own. The cohort is also preparing for our workshop at the board meeting in October.
GENERAL BUSINESS (CV)
Blair, Natalie, Paul N., Trevor, Jon, and Christina met with longtime development partner, BRI, to discuss plans for FY22 and our continued partnership with their work on CaFE, GO Smart, and ZAPP. The meeting was productive and we discussed several items related to security, PCI compliance, and the FY22 product roadmaps. Christina, Natalie V., and Paul N. have also begun participating in interviews for the system administrator role and have several other hopeful interviews scheduled next week.
As we close out the year-end, the CaFE team will plan a time to reflect on our misses and accomplishments during the difficult and mournful year of the pandemic. The team has learned a lot this last year that helped us to be resilient and thoughtful in our approach to our work and sensitivity around our clients and we hope to carry that forward.
CVSuite has one week to go until the Creative Vitality Summit, where the team will be on deck for assistance and client relations most of the week. The policy cohort will be assisting as well. Kelly conducted a demo with the Cultural Office of Pikes Peak Region, an organization that was originally planning to contract with AFTA to do another economic impact study with the AEP6 data for the 2-county region; however, several folks in their orbit have complained that the AEP study does not include for-profit creative enterprises and so they have turned to CVSuite. This will be a great win for a new client, and if not, the demo has provided valuable user insights for the team. Alisa Moldavanova is a researcher and professor at Wayne University. She previously applied for a research grant to cover the cost of the CVSuite tool, and although the grant was denied, she will be applying for funding to another with hopefully better prospects. The latest enhancement continues to be delayed due to a delay in the development funnel from Zing.
GO SMART (JG)
GO Smart continues to move forward with a ticket to enhance the UI/UX of the Program Cycles editor. BRI will be completing more comprehensive work while Ben is finalizing text and format changes. Jessica is updating tutorials and creating client communications related to this enhancement. Jessica solidified a plan, along with the SRI team, for fleshing out a webpage that will showcase the equitable grant work of SRI along with helpful resources for social justice in grantmaking. Jade Elyssa and Jessica will meet monthly to update the site and the whole team will meet bimonthly to discuss ongoing projects and ways to highlight this work for GO Smart clients and prospects. Jessica will also meet monthly with David to check in about the intersections of our respective work. Jessica met briefly with Paul to discuss the scope of tech for GO Smart and plans for the future.
PUBLIC ART ARCHIVE (LG)
PAA has almost completed the publishing process for Los Alamos County, NM’s public art collection. The growing collection can be viewed here. PAA continues to work on a large data migration project for the City of Phoenix; however, the bulk of their 1,300 artwork records (which includes a permanently-sited and portable works collection) are now in the organization’s PAA CMS. Jon Cantwell completed the launch of a PAA publishing dashboard that will streamline the movement of data to the public-facing side immensely. PAA is also completing Stage one of the Alabama Mural Trail Project. The work in progress can be viewed here.
The ZAPP team has been busy planning out our goals and objectives for FY22 as this fiscal year comes to a close. We are taking a closer look at our metrics and updating internal workflows to ensure we have the data needed to track our OKRs and have comprehensive internal tracking that makes sense and is easily accessible. We are also working on pulling our initial statistics so we can evaluate our goals and adjust accordingly.