It’s hard to believe that with all of the gorgeous weather we’ve had recently, that the last “bomb cyclone” snowpocalypse hit Denver in one last (!) gasp of snowy winter within the period of this bi-weekly update! The WESTAF office was closed April 10-11 due to horrendous driving conditions, and thanks to email, slack, etc., team members again did a great job of coordinating WFH schedules, maintaining customer support and keeping the business of WESTAF up and running in spite of the elements. Hopefully that’s the last of it and now summer is well and truly here!
I am writing to you as I head to Washington, DC with colleague Leah Horn for meet ‘n’ greet meetings with NEA, AFTA and NASAA, then on to Burlington, VT to join chair Erin Graham and fellow RAO’ers for the annual Regional Arts Organization meeting and retreat. I look forward to reflecting upon this busy week in my next bi-weekly update. In the meantime, here’s the latest:
Board Admin Updates
Some modest but necessary updates have been made to our password protected WESTAF trustee site, with board books now posted back to 2017, updated contact info, current bylaws, the latest financial audit, etc. and the newly routine archiving of these Bi-Weekly Updates (very exciting, I know!) for your reading pleasure. In addition, there will be a missive coming your way soon from the Development Committee concerning a streamlined way to submit and track potential new WESTAF Trustees, through an easy-to-submit Trustee Nomination Form. Thanks to Sam and Laurel for all this great work!
The MAC in Seattle
The Multicultural Advisory Committee had a productive meeting in Seattle April 16-17. Committee and Washington-based WESTAF trustees met with cultural leaders from various Seattle-based organizations including LANGSTON, the Seattle Office of Arts & Culture, and the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian American Pacific American Experience. The conversation focused on the importance and impact of a sustained investment in racial and social justice work and the need for cultural organizations rooted in community to inform responses to displacement, economic opportunity, and organizational capacity and longevity. Later, Board Chair Erin Graham facilitated a workshop with the MAC members to devise strategies for realizing specific goals in the strategic plan related to leadership and equity and collaboration with state arts agencies. The Committee is looking to meet in November or December, where the focus will be on rural communities. Thank you to MAC Chair Teniqua Broughton, WESTAF staffer Chrissy Deal and the whole MAC for a thought-provoking two days of discussion and planning. I learned a lot!
MAY 15 – 16 Bozeman BOT Meeting
Planning continues for our board meeting in Bozeman, MT. Thanks to trustee and treasurer Cyndy Andrus and Montana SAA ED Tatiana Gant for inviting legislators and other arts and culture leaders from the community. It’s shaping up to be a lovely few days of stimulating conversation, WESTAF updates and important discussion. More to come soon!
Director of Public Policy Search
We have now received 32 resumes for this position from all over the country. We are formulating an interviewing plan with rounds of interviewing occurring in early and mid-June.
STATE ARTS AGENCIES
Had a really productive and enjoyable visit in Olympia, WA with WESTAF trustee and ArtsWA ED Karen Hanan. The day included meeting the full ArtsWA staff, filling them in on the latest WESTAF happenings and engaging in a thoughtful discussion about SAA work, WESTAF products and activities, and ArtsWA programs. Karen arranged a lunch with representatives from WA orgs that have been past and current recipients of TourWest funding. It was a real pleasure to hear how this grant program impacts the work of these performing arts organizations and also received really good feedback on how to improve aspects of the program. We made a trip to the capitol and visited with Chief of Staff LaTasha Wortham from Lt. Gov. Cyrus Habib’s office, then a really pleasant coffee meeting with former WESTAF Chair and former ArtsWA ED Kris Tucker. Karen, Bassem and I also managed to squeeze in a meeting in Seattle with ArtsWA lobbyists Doug Levy and David Foster. I learned a lot! Thank you to Karen and also WA resident and trustee Bassem Beijani for being so available, knowledgeable and willing to help me learn more about their important work in the great state of Washington! Upcoming: trips to Arizona, Nevada and Idaho.
Capitol Hill Briefing on Arts and Rural Prosperity
Excited to report that WESTAF trustee Cyndy Andrus is a featured speaker along with NEA Chair Mary Anne Carter and others on this panel for policymakers on Capitol Hill. Endorsed by the Congressional Arts Caucus, this event will share new research and examples to demonstrate the power of creativity and culture to help rural communities thrive. The briefing takes place on Thursday, May 2, 2019, from 9:30-10:30 a.m. EST, and you can tune into the live webcast (or join in person!). Go Mayor Andrus!
BAR CAT/Strat Plan
I’ve been working with the WESTAF leadership team to draft a preliminary set of Guiding Principles to help inform our work moving forward. An update on this will be forthcoming at the next BOT meeting. The leadership team have completed drafts of new job descriptions. There are two all-team meetings planned — one on 5/13 just prior to the BOT meeting to provide all-team with updates on BAR CAT implementation and then a two-day “Strat Plan Faire” on 5/29-30 when we will roll out the cohort process and also celebrate the official launch of a 10-year (!) strategic plan. A momentous occasion, to be sure! Amy and I will offer specific updates on all of this at the BOT meeting on 5/16 and make sure there’s plenty of time for questions and discussion.
Americans for the Arts and RAOs.
I’ve included below a status report from AFTA regarding their “Strategic Partnerships” program, as well as a general periodic update specifically for RAOs. In addition, I have included a recent update on the activities of all six RAOs, which you can review at your leisure.
ZAPP & CaFE
Development to make ZAPP responsive on mobile devices will begin on May 1 with a target launch date of Aug. 1, 2019. Staff met with PayPal representatives in a joint meeting to discuss an implementation plan for moving ZAPP and CaFE to Braintree, a PayPal service. Integration with Braintree would allow ZAPP and CaFE to collect payments from a variety of methods, including Apple Pay and Venmo, in addition to more traditional methods such as PayPal and credit card. Revisions to CaFE service agreements are underway, in an effort to simplify language for governmental agencies and introduce more clear terms of access.
The PAA manager continues to work on an implementation plan to launch a new public-facing, front-end WordPress site. The current site is built on a content management framework that is reaching end of life. The team is working on developing marketing collateral for staff involvement at AFTA’s Public Art Pre-conference in June.
South Arts is now fully up and running with the GO Smart system to administer their JazzRoads grants. We are hiring a Business Coordinator that will work with GO and CVS. We have implemented an enhancement that speeds up the grant manager’s pages significantly. The TourWest panel is currently using GO Smart.
CVSuite is developing top 25 lists on regions with vibrant museum industries, creative cities to work under 30 and high concentration of musicians. These marketing campaigns will be combined with blog posts and social media to reach leaders and practitioners in the arts from medium sized cities across the US.
Our WordPress sites are receiving an uptick in negative attention the past two weeks. We have had several outages related to Denial of Service attacks, our security, and availability measures have thus been ramped up on those sites with a combination of efforts from WESTAF’s technology team and some assistance from BRI. Paypal’s Social Responsibility Department flew to Denver and met with the Director of Technology. Paypal has generously offered a “grant” of funds to WESTAF to convert its payment processing to its newer integration, if that conversion can be done by June 15th and June 30th at the latest. This new payment processing integration would also result in ~$20,000 in savings on processing fees on top of the amount. The JasperSoft Business Intelligence tool work continues, but has slowed due to pressing site reliability work.