June 13, 2022
Greetings WESTAF colleagues:
A slightly more abbreviated biweekly this go round, but still loads of great updates from all corners of the WESTAF organization—thanks to everyone who has submitted an update this fortnight! Let’s jump right in:
GENERAL BUSINESS (CV)
The business team has begun working on budgeting and OKRs for the next fiscal year. As part of this process, we will be updating our workflow so that business creates department-wide objectives. The SaaS products will then create 2-3 key results per objective. This will help us better align with WESTAF overall initiatives and create a more focused, manageable approach. Natalie has been solo with Blair on vacation and has been busy working with the various teams to move the technical work along.
CaFÉ worked with the MarComm team on a mini-promo targeting inactive customers. On June 7 a list of 100 past customers received an invitation to come back to CaFÉ. As an incentive, we’re waiving the $175 setup cost until the end of July. For the month of June, we’re running a banner ad on the Eugene Scene website. On the road ahead, CaFÉ will be releasing the ability for artists to submit linked audio and video work samples. Up until now, artists have had to upload limited-sized media files to their portfolios. Now they can link to their Vimeo or YouTube full version videos.
CVSuite has been working on the upcoming data update, 2022.1. We continue to struggle with unreliable timelines and communication from our developer, Zing, following their recent staff transitions. It’s likely the data update slated for Jun 16 will now need to be moved to the end of the month, since we also have to consider the release schedules of the other SaaS platforms. In other news, CVSuite has announced that Kelly will begin to transition out of her role as product manager and into a creative economy consultant role, continuing to support key ongoing CVSuite projects and support CVS operations while helping with the strategic planning process of the future of CVSuite. July 1 marks Kelly’s official transition to a consultant.
GO SMART (JG)
GO Smart released a hotfix to correct a bug that kept generated panel books from being emailed to the appropriate grant administrator. Sam crafted three messages for our WESTAF partner audiences and emails will be sent respectively on June 15. GO Smart and CVSuite were able to close a spectacularly large renewal contract with Kentucky Arts Council. We offered a deep discount on CVSuite and a smaller discount for bundling and signing a two-year contract, but they are the first to sign under our new pricing and opted to go with our Unlimited package for $14,500 per year after the discount. San Antonio continues to lag with their payments for service from October 2021 to March 2022 and a full annual renewal from April 2022 to March 2023, but the payments are now expected by the end of June.
PUBLIC ART ARCHIVE (LG)
The PAA team is excited to kick off development with technology firm Bilberrry after the completion of their tech and design audits for PAA’s current infrastructure and UI/UX. Christina and Paul will be presenting the initial wireframes/workflows at the upcoming BOT meeting at the end of the month – and we look forward to hearing feedback from the board on these exciting developments that will make the PAA experience one of a kind. The PAA team is set to present services to executives at the Metropolitan Nashville Airport Authority—a new hot lead that will likely sign on in July. Lori will attend a Bernalillo County, NM arts advisory meeting in September with former WESTAF-er Madalena Salazar to present on best practices in the field of public art. Details of that event are forthcoming.
The ZAPP team has officially a full staff! With Lia (our newest customer experience team member) trained up, Sara has started working full-time in her communication and support role. She has been focused on learning how to make webinar edits, drafting a sales info packet, and finessing her knowledge of the e-blast securement process, and on Thursday, June 16, she’ll lead her first administrator webinar.
WESTAF AND CALIFORNIANS FOR THE ARTS TO PARTNER WITH CONGRESSWOMAN BARBARA LEE’S OFFICE ON A WEBINAR AND ADVOCACY STRATEGY FOR THE ADVANCING EQUITY THROUGH THE ARTS AND HUMANITIES ACT (DH)
WESTAF and CFTA will partner on a webinar to introduce the Advancing Equity Through Arts and Humanities Act to Western States constituents and are in discussions on developing an advocacy strategy for the bill working with Congresswoman Lee’s office.
WESTAF AND THOMA FOUNDATION TO MEET WITH US DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE LEADERSHIP ABOUT COLLABORATION ON RURAL CONVENING (DH)
WESTAF and Thoma Foundation have scheduled a meeting with Farah Ahmad, chief of Staff and Justin Maxson, deputy under secretary, of the USDA in July to discuss their rural policy priorities and a possible partnership on a rural convening in 2023.
BAY AREA ARTS POLICY AND LEADERSHIP SEMINAR CONTINUES IN JUNE AND REMAINING SEMINAR DATES ANNOUNCED (CC/DH/MPH)
WESTAF continues its engagement with the Bay Area Arts Policy and Leadership cohort in June with a virtual meeting to take place on June 14th. This session will center on the discussion of “Power and Policy.” There will be a specific focus on two issue areas identified in the first gathering by the cohort members: sustainable and equitable funding and housing security. The remaining dates for the seminar will be July 19 (virtual), August 23 (in-person), and October 18 (in-person).
WESTAF AND WAAN SUBMIT OUTSIDE WITNESS TESTIMONY FOR THE U.S. SENATE APPROPRIATIONS SUBCOMMITTEE ON INTERIOR, ENVIRONMENT, AND RELATED AGENCIES IN SUPPORT OF THE NATIONAL ENDOWMENT FOR THE ARTS (CC)
WESTAF and WAAN submitted a joint testimony to the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee in support of the budget proposal of $203.55 million for the NEA. (For reference, the FY22 budget of the NEA was $180 million.) The testimony urges Congress to support the budget request put forward by the Biden Administration and parity in funding between the NEA and NEH. It also urges Congress to build a specific path to index funding for the National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) at $1 per capita as well as continue support for COVID recovery funding.
SRI MEETS WITH WESTAF’S AD HOC COMMITTEE FOR EQUITABLE GRANTMAKING (AK/AM/JEC)
Anika, Jade Elyssa, and Ashanti met with WESTAF’s Ad Hoc Committee for Equitable Grantmaking to present the TourWest Assessment Findings. The information presented to the committee provided insight about the TourWest survey grant recipients who responded to a recent survey requesting feedback about organization demographics including geographic location, populations served, and perspective of the overall impact of the TourWest Grant. The committee also received a report of the TourWest focus group panels conducted this spring, in which the SRI team asked a series of questions regarding the impact of the TourWest Grant, and how WESTAF can continue to best serve Western arts organizations through funding.
WESTAF SUPPORTS GRANTEE BY ATTENDING QWOCMAP’S 18TH ANNUAL INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL (JEC)
From June 10-12, Queer Women of Color Media Arts Project – recipient of both the WESTAF Regional Arts Resilience Fund and WESTAF American Rescue Plan grants- hosted their 18th Annual International Film Festival which combines film, art, activism, and community building to engage communities to think critically about their relationship to our movements for social justice. The 2022 Festival Focus, “Love, Embodied,” transmits networks of liberatory intimacy and collective care that traverse time and place. Jade Elyssa represented WESTAF throughout the festival as well as at a funders reception alongside Zellerbach, Hewlett and San Francisco Foundations, Walter & Elise Haas Fund, the Center for Cultural Innovation and additional community partners. The grantee expressed gratitude for the funds which supported the resilience and longevity of the organization through the COVID-19 pandemic.
WESTAF COLLABORATES WITH SOUTH ARTS ON STRATEGIC ALUMNI ENGAGEMENT (JEC)
With the transition of Ethan Messere, who formerly managed relationships with the South Arts ELC network, WESTAF’s Jade Elyssa Cariaga and South Art’s Jessyca Holland have worked closely together to ideate strategic engagement with South Art’s ELC Alumni during FY23. Tentative plans include involvement in the upcoming South Arts Board of Directors meeting and incorporation in opportunities at South Arts as well as executing the remainder of planned professional development sessions. Jessyca has done a great deal of field-building and advocacy for the arts in Atlanta and will be a strong partner in the next chapter of the ELC program.
MONTANA ARTS COUNCIL AND MONTANA TOURWEST/ELC VISITS (CG)
Christian has been in Montana this past week, and it has been great! In addition to meeting with and giving a WESTAF presentation to Montana Arts Council council members, Christian visited with 2012 ELCer Brooke Swaney, and visited the rural community of Eureka, MT with MAC ED and WESTAF trustee Tatiana Gant, spending time with representatives of the arts nonprofit Sunburst Arts and Education, a small but dynamic organization, and a regular recipient of TourWest funding for their popular music series. Special thanks to Tatiana—it was a great trip, and we can’t wait to go back to Montana soon!
FOUNDATION FUNDING UPDATES (CG)
Anika, David and Christian had a preliminary meet n’ greet with the Margaret Cargill Philanthropies. It was a successful kick-off conversation, where we provided a comprehensive background on WESTAF and learned more about Cargill’s arts and culture program, in particular their emphasis on folk, traditional and native arts. Cargill has a particular interest in funding planning and implementation, and WESTAF is still in the learning and discovery process in terms of where to take its folk arts program, so this conversation gave us a lot to think about. We’ve also been invited by the Ford Foundation to submit an LOI for our Cultural Equity and Resilience in the Rural West program, which is very exciting. The RAO collective has submitted a cooperator application to the NEA for the Pilot Equity Initiative, and South Arts will serve as lead cooperation.
FIRST ANNUAL REPORT TO MACKENZIE SCOTT AND DAN JEWETT (CG)
Christian completed the first annual report to MacKenzie Scott and Dan Jewett, based on this very basic instruction: “we ask for a simple and brief report annually from the date of your award letter for the next three years, so we can understand how you are doing and how the grant funds are being used. The report should be a narrative of no more than three pages and share progress on key initiatives, including lessons learned and the critical path for the next year. Along with the report each year, please send your audited financial statements, if any, and an updated organizational budget for the following year. Please note that the three years of reporting doesn’t create any expectations as to timing for when you spend the funds – that is completely up to you.”
With the quarter soon coming to a close, the MarComm team will be busy working on gathering metrics for our Q3 marketing activities and initiatives, including social media metrics for the 2022 Arts Leadership and Advocacy Seminar. The team recently completed the final round of revisions for the interim WESTAF website and are excited to share the new site with staff in a special preview. The team is also working on two email marketing campaigns for CaFÉ and GO Smart and developing a social media strategy for an announcement around our partnership with the Pacific Jurisdictions. We’re also excited to share that we have released our third CVSuite DataEd video: Methods of Evaluating the Creative Economy! If you or someone you know is interested in learning more about how to analyze and interpret creative economy data, please share this resource with them!
In addition to gathering social media metrics for the 2022 Arts Leadership and Advocacy Seminar (ALAS), the post-event survey has now officially closed and we are excited to see what responses we’ve received and to create a report with some of this year’s data highlights. The team has also been busy reviewing a featured blog for CaFÉ and collaborating with Cameron on designing and sending out an acknowledgment dinner invitation for Anne Bown-Crawford.
2022 NONPROFIT INDUSTRY OUTLOOK (AH)
We’ve been reviewing the 2022 Nonprofit Industry Outlook, compiled by Plante Moran, our auditing firm. The highlights include some expected challenges—retaining qualified staff being #1 in the report. This is the first time that this has been the top priority in the history of this survey. Prior years listed funding as the primary challenge. See the “10 surefire ways to attract, retain and motivate talent” on page 3. We also see a window into the sector’s adoption of remote workplaces: 76% are in some hybrid environment with 11% fully remote. Overall, nonprofits expect to have a positive net in this fiscal year. Part of that is likely the large tax credits we’re all waiting to be processed and paid by the IRS (WESTAF is waiting for over $400,000).
FINANCE AND ADMINISTRATION (AH)
Our financial system has been “freezing” right in the middle of processing our massive client check runs. This has created issues with some of the checks and remittances. Lauren is working with our consultant at Knaster Technology to try to figure out what is happening and how to fix it. It appears this is an unexpected side effect of installing the new cash basis tool. We thank the CaFE and ZAPP teams for handling the increase in customer questions while we figure this out. The fiscal year 2023 budget season has begun! Amy is working with the leadership team to build out more transparency in this year’s budget structure. The goal is to have a solid 1st draft by July 22nd. With Sharon’s help, we’re continuing to learn the status of some of the older NEA grants which we hope to close out soon to help lighten the load on the grant team. Amy rebuilt the deferred revenue schedule to accommodate the changes required for the cash basis tool. This is the first month closeout with the new cash tool process: the budget managers will receive the details for their income and expense in a different format from prior months and Becky and Amy will be ready for questions. Now that there is less manual work required in monthly closeout, the reporting system can be fully utilized: this provides many more options for budget managers. Amy will work to identify more effective reporting for the budget managers.