Board of Trustees Bi-Weekly Recap

Bi-Weekly Recap: December 17, 2019

By December 18, 2019January 22nd, 2020No Comments

Hello again WESTAF Trustees:

Welcome back to the Bi-Weekly recap. We skipped an edition for the Thanksgiving holiday, but regular broadcasting has been resumed! I hope everyone is navigating with grace the additional joys and obligations that come with the holiday season. Speaking of the holidays…


This past Friday the 13th, I had a fun time hosting the WESTAF Holiday Party at my modest apartment in Denver’s Cap Hill neighborhood. We had a strong turnout of WESTAF team members and their significant others for an afternoon/early evening of holiday cheer. A good time was had by all (I think/hope)! The featured drinks were the Aperol Spritz and the Old Fashioned, but it wasn’t until afterwards that I saw this excellent 8 Nonprofit Themed Cocktails to Brighten your Holiday Party.


The WESTAF team is working hard organizing the Board of Trustees meeting at the Whitney Peak in Reno, NV. We have a strong agenda draft in development and more will be revealed in the first part of 2020. Really look forward to seeing you all there. As a reminder, if you have not yet made your travel plans, please contact Natalie Scherlong and get that taken care of. It’s going to be great!


Just prior to the trustees meeting, we’ll also be hosting the ED Forum in Reno as well. David Holland has done a great job of assembling a compelling agenda for the convening. It’s attached below. We also recently sent a brief report to our participating states (also below, FYI).


This just in from Utah: On Friday, December 13, legislative leaders that sit on the Executive Appropriations Committee approved a motion that included making the $2 million in funding for Arts & Museums grants ongoing. Beginning with the upcoming session, the funding will be included in the base budgets passed during the first week or so of the session. This is not new money, because legislators passed it during the last session with the intent that it would continue beyond one year; however, until the debate over tax reform was resolved, they did not approve most new appropriations beyond the current year. This is important for the agency because it means they will not have to go through the nail-biting appropriations process for this $2 million. Instead, they can focus on securing any additional funding Governor Gary Herbert includes in his budget proposal. They will know that amount in January. 

And this perplexing development in Colorado: The Manitou Springs City Council on Tuesday rejected a measure that would authorize collection of an arts and culture sales tax approved by voters in the Nov. 5 election. Proponents of the 0.3% arts tax have accused council members Jay Rohrer, Susan Wolbrueck, Bob Todd and Becky Elder of going against the will of the voters by failing to pass an ordinance enshrining the new tax into law and outlining where the future revenues would go. “So much for democracy,” one of the people packed into the city’s Town Hall remarked loudly after the ordinance went down 4-3. Another derided the decision as “shameful” and “appalling.”

Christian and David are currently in Hawaii, facilitating a two-day session with the SFCA on how to implement metrics and measures in their recently adopted Strategic Plan.


WESTAF has been hosting (is that the right word?!) our auditors in the office these past few weeks. It’s been going well so far, but it requires intense work and focus from our finance team (thank you, Amy). We’ll give you a status update on the auditing process at the trustees meeting in January.


Teniqua, Tamara and myself will be meeting later this week to map out the process for defining WESTAF’s equity imperatives. Some of the topics we’ll hit on include: the benefits and connections from staff cohorts and our recent gallery session; scope of work opportunities that align with WESTAF’s ongoing priorities, the alignment between board & staff EIC execution; shared agreements, professional development and other opportunities. I am really looking forward to this time together. 


We’ve made an employment offer to a candidate for the CaFE communications and support coordinator. This person will replace Lani Morris, who is moving to grants coordinator in January 2020. CaFE is also finalizing designs for its Event Editor. The reworked layout will help simplify the data entry process a bit and make setting up calls easier and more intuitive for administrators. As we continue to work toward automation, we’re also launching an updated demo request form on the front-end that will automatically populate data into Zoho, our sales management and client account tool. 


Kelly Ernst attended the Wyoming Business Alliance Conference to talk about CVSuite along with others involved in the creative industries in Wyoming. CVSuite hosted Emsi, our data providers and partners, in Denver for a discussion and reflection on Emsi’s development roadmap, our partnership and sales strategies, and data trainings. We also released a data update to 2019.3 on Dec. 10. 


PAA is currently in the process of upgrading its Collection Management System (CMS) clients to version 5.2. The upgrade includes a new tools interface that allows for parameterized reporting. Next week, PAA will launch a marketing campaign that will highlight interactive collection maps that link to individual artwork records. This is the first marketing campaign developed through WESTAF’s new BAR CAT structure. 


ZAPP completed the first round of artist help videos (6) created for the redesigned artist side. Communications and Support Coordinator Julia Passantino also created a short Thanksgiving video for social media about experiences for which the team is most thankful. We’re also finalizing a process to project ZAPP income and expenses in a new way because of the shifting landscape of the art fair and festival industry. We’ll begin this process in January 2020.


Greetings Western States Arts Leaders:

Following WESTAF trustee meetings, we usually like to offer a telephone conference update to our western state arts agency colleagues. We had a go at a Doodle poll to set up a call following the October meeting but had a hard time finding a date and time that would work for a majority of you. Busy times, busy lives!

So in lieu of a call, David and I thought we’d update you in writing on the October 23-24 board meeting in Denver, as well as some of WESTAF’s FY20 activities over the last few months before we see each other again at the ED Forum in January. Here we go:

WESTAF October Board meeting


Tamara Alvarado was elected Chair of the WESTAF Board, Teniqua Broughton as Vice Chair, Karmen Rossi as Secretary, and Mike Lange as Treasurer. Here’s the WESTAF Board of Trustees and here are their professional bios.

Amber-Dawn Bear Robe (NM), Lisa Becker (NV), and Paul Nguyen (CO) were elected as new members of the board for three-year terms.

Erin Graham, Wendy Bredehoft, and Dana Bennett completed their service on the WESTAF board at the October meeting. All were thanked for their leadership, including Erin for her service as Chair and work on the WESTAF 10-year vision and strategic plan.

Committee Chair and incoming board Vice Chair Teniqua Broughton led an overview and acknowledgement of WESTAF’s Multicultural Advisory Committee’s work over the last 20 years at the October Board meeting. She oriented the trustees to several important milestones along WESTAF’s diversity, inclusion, and equity journey. Committee members Lucero Arellano, Tamara Alvarado, Teniqua Broughton, SuJ’n Chon, Tony Garcia, Eric Hayashi, Kimberly Howard, Amir Jackson, Aaron Miles, and Tey Marianna Nunn have championed these advancements and serve as important ambassadors for WESTAF’s efforts to create a more equitable arts and culture field. In 2020, the Multicultural Advisory Committee (MAC) will transition to the Equity and Inclusion Committee (EIC) and continue the work of advising WESTAF on how best to align its programs and operations around these important principles.

WESTAF Updates and Presentations

Christian Gaines updated the board about BAR CAT, Strategic Plan implementation and our Guiding Principles. BAR CAT is a working model for the WESTAF team that emphasizes consensus-building, division leadership with oversight of objectives and goals. Operationalizing the WESTAF strategic plan includes the development of cohorts around equity, business, communications and then eventually public policy. Developing a set of Guiding Principles helps to guide the organization as we review opportunities and rise to the challenges of our work. Here’s the presentation deck we shared, which provides a progress overview of these three areas.

Seyan Lucero, Director of Business Strategy, gave the board an update on WESTAF’s strategies for its technology products – ZAPP, CaFE, GO Smart, CVSuite, and Public Art Archive – over the next year. She also gave an overview of the OKR process implemented with product teams and shared the sunsetting of YouJudgeIt and IMTour with the board.

David Holland, Director of Public Policy, presented on the development of the Alliances, Advocacy, and Policy department at WESTAF, the programs and services it has inherited, how these and future activities are integrated into the strategic plan, key focus areas for the first year, and developing thinking about WESTAF’s external relations and key strategic relationships. 

Chrissy Deal, WESTAF’s Director of Social Responsibility & Inclusion, and Madalena Salazar, Social Responsibility & Inclusion consultant, presented on the historical context of the West, examined demographic shifts and reviewed federal policy and its influence on societal structures in an effort to enhance key stakeholder’s understanding of the expansive western region. The board was invited to reflect on the varied identities of our region and how all these contributing factors may or may not influence WESTAF’s role as a thought-leader and resource to communities within the region and the field at large.

The Gallery Session

As part of the October board meeting, staff from WESTAF’s six teams were asked to set up a science-fair style gallery session to share out to trustees about their activities and plans, with the goal of “interest mapping” trustees to planning cohorts moving forward. During the hour-long session, trustees visited six separate tables representing WESTAF’s departments and divisions, where they learned about each team’s work priorities in a fun and friendly way. Board members were encouraged to express interest in being engaged with one or more of WESTAF’s work areas. Here’s how we explained it to the trustees, and here are some fun photos from the session as well as the whole meeting.

WESTAF FY2020 activities to date 

Leaders of Color “Cohort of Cohorts” Meeting

WESTAF welcomed 14 former Emerging Leaders of Color program alumni to Denver October 7-9 for a three-day workshop titled Designing Our Future – Imagining Inclusive Systems. In addition to the alumni, David Holland, Chrissy Deal and I joined Teniqua Broughton and the program faculty Tamara Alvarado, Salvador Acevedo and Margie Reese for this hands-on and interactive experience. The workshop created a space for strengthening ties between members across cohorts and the western region and gave WESTAF leadership a strong sense of ways members of the network wish to engage with WESTAF moving forward. Chrissy and Madalena will use the insights from the group to begin developing a platform for continued connection and collaboration with this talented group of leaders through FY20 and beyond.

State and Federal Advocacy

We are currently processing State Advocacy Funds qualifying questionnaires for FY20, and will be confirming state awards by mid-December. We will be making an announcement about our approach to federal advocacy in FY20 in the coming weeks also.

Upcoming Executive Director Forum

We are so glad that most of you can join us at WESTAF’s upcoming Executive Director Forum in at the Whitney Peak Hotel in Reno, Nevada on January 14-15. The Forum will convene at 4:00 p.m. on Tuesday, January 14 and conclude at approximately 9:00 p.m. on Wednesday, January 15, following a joint dinner with the WESTAF Board of Trustees at the Nevada Museum of Art. We’re excitedly planning a range of interactive and informative experiences for you. Stay tuned!

Selected Conferences, Meetings and State Visits

WESTAF had a presence at these notable convenings in October and November:

October 1  — Attended the Western Governors Association Reimagining the Rural West workshop in Fargo, ND

October 13-16  — Attended Grantmakers in the Arts Conference in Denver, CO

November 7-9 — Attended Wyoming Arts Summit: Equity in the Arts in Cheyenne, WY

November 14-16  — Attended Creative Placemaking Summit in Phoenix, AZ

November 19-20 — Attended RAO (Regional Arts Organizations) Meetings in Washington DC

November 21-23 — Meetings with Oregon partners and presented to the Oregon Arts Commission in Portland, OR

Questions? Feedback? Do be in touch! In the meantime, have a great weekend and see you in Nevada next month!

As ever,

Christian Gaines, Executive Director, WESTAF

David Holland, Director of Public Policy, WESTAF