Board of Trustees Bi-Weekly Recap

Bi-Weekly Recap: February 10, 2020

By February 11, 2020No Comments

Dear WESTAF Trustees:

Hope everyone is doing very well indeed! We are making it through this snowy Denver winter and feeling like spring can’t be too far away, can it?! There has been some talk about moving the WESTAF office to Maui, but that’s for a later bi-weekly…so, in the meantime:


I sent out an email about this last week, but as a quick reminder, WESTAF has a table at the Governor’s Arts Awards on February 21 in Cheyenne, where they will be honoring two people that are special to WESTAF — recent past trustee Wendy Bredehoft and ELC alum Robert Martinez. WESTAF will be hosting a table at the awards (very affordable, thanks to trustee Mike Lange). We’re happy to provide your ticket to the awards event and we can work with you to help you make your no-host travel arrangements to Cheyenne. We should also be able to arrange a few invitations to a very special pre-cocktail reception hosted by the Governor and the First Lady at the Governor’s Residence, which is a real honor and a treat. We’d like to gauge your interest in attending this wonderful event this week, with a firm February 14 deadline. So far, Amy Hollrah and Kelly Ernst from the WESTAF team will be attending (they’ll be fabulous and entertaining table companions), with David Holland providing a WESTAF update to the Wyoming Arts Council commissioners the day before. Show your support of WESTAF, Wyoming, the ELC and our western region! Please be in touch directly with me and we’ll take it from there.


As you know, WESTAF is piloting an effort to focus on finding appropriate foundations with whom to partner. We’ve set ourselves a modest $100,000 goal for 2020 at the outset, specifically to build capacity around our Emerging Leaders of Color program. Operationally, we feel ready to embark on this effort because we are a diverse and well-established nonprofit that is in sound financial shape; we have recently gone through another impeccable audit; we have a strong network of talented and well-connected trustees; we have various stakeholders throughout the West with whom we partner and we have an experienced in-house team ready to provide a high level of fulfillment on any expanding or newly conceived funded efforts. In the coming weeks, we have meetings set up with Todd Stein, CEO of the Mid-America Arts Alliance, our RAO colleague to the east as well as Gary Steur of the Bonfils-Stanton Foundation, Grantmakers in the Arts board member and friend to WESTAF, to further discuss priority and strategy.

At this stage, I’d love to make an appeal to our trustees: as you know, fundraising isn’t a requirement for serving on the board of WESTAF. However, if fundraising is something that interests you, or you have ideas for possible foundations and/or donors that might be a fit for our equity work, I would love to talk to you about strategy and approach. Is there an organization in your state that would resonate with WESTAF’s western focus and equity work? Our 2020 goals are modest but firm: can you help us make them a reality? Contact me!


The Finance & Administration team is finalizing tax and audit drafts, which will be shared with the Executive Committee & board in February and March. The team is working with budget managers on the 2nd month of projections: we have learned a bit since last month and hope each month gets easier and more accurate going forward. For the first time ever, a year-end projection document will be shared with the Executive Committee at the February meeting. Becca and Amy attended the yearly “Mile High Society for Human Resource Management Conference” last week and learned a lot. There are many legal changes that will require internal changes for compliance. The good news is many of these changes were on the docket anyway to aid in equity work!


TourWest 2020-2021 grant program officially launched January 19, 2020. As you may recall, supported by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, TourWest provides subsidies to arts and community organizations within the 13-state WESTAF region for the presentation of out-of-state touring performers and literary artists. Grant awards are $2,500 or 50% of the artistic fees, whichever is less, and require a one-to-one cash match by the presenting organization. Applications are due April 1, 2020. Chrissy Deal and Lani Morris, the new TourWest “team,” will be learning the ropes from Seyan Lucero and Madalena Salazar through the process while gaining familiarity with the tremendous talent being showcased in the western region.


Chrissy Deal has been invited to participate as a collaborator at the National Arts Strategies (NAS) Creative Community Launchpad, a part of their Creative Community Fellows program February 27-March 1, 2020. The event is an opportunity to weave together a diverse group of creative community innovators with current philanthropic leaders, evaluators and other folks in the field who care about advancing community-centered work. Fellows will gather at 1440 Multiversity (Scotts Valley, CA) to sharpen their ability to communicate the value of their work and strengthen the networks of both fellows and collaborators (a list including grantmakers and other key allies who are used to hearing pitches and project ideas regularly.) Chrissy is looking forward to learning more about the NAS approach and their associated network (of which Nikiko is an alum), connecting with philanthropic leaders and considering potential collaborations.


The WESTAF team is catching up on the Performance Management process put into place at the beginning of this FY. With around 6 weeks until the end of Q2, my goal is to make sure that Leadership Resource Team (LRT) goals are captured and to check in on these goals before the end of February. Then, LRT will be pursuing the same process with their direct reports through March.


Last week, you received a thorough report from David Holland as a follow-up to our successful ED Forum convening in Reno in January. I’m including it here again in case you missed it. It was a first for David, Tamara and myself so we were a bit unsure how it would turn out, but we were pleased with the response and have some good ideas on how to continue to fine tune and adapt the format so that it is as relevant as possible to our essential arts agency stakeholders. David also distributed a survey to help us as we iterate and improve the convening in the coming years.


As a further update, David and Chrissy have been planning a one-and-a-half-day workshop over April 2-3 to engage a western network of thought leaders and community builders whose work intersects with the rural arts agenda. Part of workshop will take place at the Masumoto Farm in Del Rey, California (thank you, trustee Nikiko!) and the remainder in nearby Fresno. We are in the midst of inviting participants and finalizing an agenda and exact location(s) in the Central Valley of California. Information on the hotel and event locations will be finalized shortly. It will bring together 20-25 rural arts advocates, folk and traditional arts professionals, arts administrators, rural economic development and policy specialists, indigineous artists, culture bearers, and others to share knowledge, practice and ideas. At this stage, we know that representatives from Art of the Rural, Artplace America, Association of California Traditional Arts, Rural LISC, California Arts Council, City of Bozeman, First Nations Development Institute, National Hispanic Cultural Center, Plains Indian Museum at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, Washington State Arts Commission (ArtsWA), and Western Folklife Center plan to attend. 


To better understand our own federal advocacy efforts as well as AFTA’s existing efforts, David and I will be attending the National Arts Action Summit in Washington, DC March 30-31. Around 9 out of our 13 participating states so far have taken advantage of WESTAF’s 2020 Federal Advocacy Funding pilot for western states, with others pending. This will be a learning opportunity for David and me to continue to monitor and improve this program so that it is as flexible and effective as possible for our participating states.


Thanks to trustees Vicki Bourns and Kelly Stowell, I have been invited to participate in the 2020 Mountain West Arts Conference in Utah in May. Really looking forward to this. More information to come in future bi-weeklies.


David and I are also attending the Colorado Creative Summit in Steamboat Springs in May. WESTAF is working with CCI on the possibility of participating in a pre-convening panel and is considering organizing a session on rural arts or public funding. Currently, we’re leaning towards rural arts as this will be a little more than a month out from the rural arts in the West convening and we will have some early findings from that meeting to frame a session at the Summit.


Leah implemented the CaFE Google Adwords Campaign. Already we’re seeing that “Better Calls” resonates more than “Greater Reach”! This month, we plan to kick off the CaFE email campaign for Public Art—the list of leads is huge with great potential to gain back a segment of customers that we’ve slowly lost to competitors. In 2019, the CaFE team set up over 1,100 call listings (avg. of 91 per mo.) Work continues with the team on refining operations as well as exploring new methods for product training to help meet our short-on-time but high-in-expectations customer demands. CaFE had 21 new licensees in January!


CVSuite will focus heavily on marketing and sales in this next quarter. Our renewals are down and we hope that the key marketing campaigns will help us push sales revenue up. Two main focuses are a general email campaign that highlights the strong customer service and consultation services that CVSuite and its team provides. Another marketing campaign is our top list(s) campaigns (AKA top 20) are moving forward.  


GO Smart has solidified four grants administrator marketing personas: Millennial artist, Millennial IT professional, Gen X business professional, and Boomer CEO/ED. We will begin to tailor sales campaigns toward these admin types at municipal, regional, and state organizations in the arts, humanities, and community development. We continue to see issues post “PDF to HTML” release, wherein clicking “App PDF” opens the Final Report. We are still working to determine the cause. 


PAA is excited to report that the program now has more than 14,000 public art records accessible for public engagement from our desktop and mobile sites. The team has completed the onboarding process for Santa Monica Cultural Affairs. This month, Lori will work directly with staff from Mural Arts Philadelphia (MAP) to define a workflow strategy for preparing over 4,000 murals from their collection for import. In addition, Lori will work with MAP staff to further define opportunities for public engagement with their Collection Showcase page on PAA while working to complete the contract process with its newest client, the City of Sunnyvale, CA.


We’re continuing to train Brandon on his new role, and we’re still working on hiring a replacement for his part-time customer experience coordinator position. Natalie Villa just finished our next round of customer support videos, updated for the changes we made to the jury module. We’ve also adopted a customer service platform called Groove to help with answering customer emails; this tool will help us better analyze trends and support needs and gives us metrics for determining how well we’re helping our customers. 

Well, that’s all for now. As always, thank you for your help and guidance as we knock out Q2. You know this, but please contact me about absolutely anything. I’d love to hear from you!

With gratitude,