Greetings WESTAF Board of Trustees:
Hello again! Checking in with a brief bi-weekly update after my second fortnight at WESTAF and it’s been fun, exciting, a little overwhelming but always action-packed:
More valuable onboarding sessions happened these past few weeks for me, including an IMTour session and a series of sessions with Anthony, where we went over how WESTAF works with the state arts agencies in the West; how WESTAF works with the national arts service organizations; how WESTAF works with the National Endowment for the arts (NEA) and how WESTAF works with private foundation and non-government entities, among many other topics. All really helpful, and supplemented by accompanying briefing notes to assist in the learning. Formal onboarding concluded the week of February 1.
Strategic Plan — Visit by BOT Leadership
The Chair and Vice Chair visited the WESTAF office from 2/5 – 2/6 (during a major snowstorm!) and we dived into an ambitious schedule intended to set the agenda for my leadership from a BOT perspective, and set a course with myself and the WESTAF team on how to begin addressing and operationalizing the strategic plan, set priorities, etc. This time also included a small reception in the office with the whole WESTAF team and BOT leadership, which was a warm and convivial affair. After these sessions, I was left with a much clearer idea of how to begin organizing the strategic plan work in a way that can involve the whole team and build consensus and ownership around the process.
Wyoming Visit Update
From 2/7 – 2/8, I had my first “official visit” as the Executive Director of WESTAF to Cheyenne, Wyoming to participate in Arts Advocacy Day. This agenda included meeting with the Wyoming Arts Council Board, attending a reception at BOT member Karmen Rossi’s home, participating on panel entitled “Trends and Policies that are impacting State and Regional Arts Policy,” attending a reception at the Governor’s residence and attending the Governor’s Art Awards, which was a wonderful evening. WESTAF team member Paul Nguyen also delivered an excellent presentation on tracking and reporting on the creative economy to an extremely engaged audience of WY arts professionals. That was a big success and Paul gave a great presentation! It was a really inspiring few days. Many thanks to WESTAF BOT members Mike Lange, Karmen Rossi and Wendy Bredehoft for their warmth and hospitality, and for introducing me to a thousand wonderful people. I left with a much stronger sense of the opportunities and challenges facing Wyoming’s art and cultural scene and have resolved to return (when perhaps it isn’t 10 below!) to visit Laramie, Jackson Hole and other arts hot spots in the state. An especially gratifying takeaway impression was observing the clear commitment that the new Governor Gordon and First Lady Jennie Gordon have for the arts, as evidenced by their total involvement in presenting the Art Awards. They spoke with easy confidence and passion about the arts in Wyoming.
Upcoming Visit to Brownrice
On deck the week of 2/11 includes a visit to our web developer Brownrice Internet in Taos, NM to get better acquainted with their leadership, their team and their process of working with WESTAF on our portfolio of technology products.
BOT Meeting Planning
Also have been spending some time with BOT leadership and Anthony diving into the agenda for the upcoming BOT Meeting in SLC. It’s been so helpful to have had Anthony’s involvement in the preparation of materials for this meeting, and to be able to look over this shoulder in this effort. We intend to have the board book to you all soon for your review prior to the meeting. I was also able to invite some additional SLC friends to the dinner the night before — Virginia Pearce, the Director of the Utah Film Commission and Sarah Pearce (formerly the Managing Director of the Sundance Institute) now Director of Arts and Culture for Salt Lake County. Thanks to BOT member Kelly Stowell for help in tracking them down.
Development Committee Update/SAA BOT Candidate Update
Had a productive call with Board Development Committee Chair Karen Hanan and developed a game plan for sourcing a BOT candidate from Colorado. We’re also wrapping up the nominating process with SAA executive directors on replacing the SAA BOT seat vacated by Loie Fecteau and had some preliminary conversations around other areas of expertise (technology, for example) and regions for BOT consideration. We should have more to report on all of this at the SLC BOT meeting. Thanks to Karen for moving all of this forward so ably.
Also pleased to have a 2/22 telephone meeting on the calendar with BOT member and MAC Chair Teniqua Broughton, which will serve as an onboarding for me and to go over priorities. Really looking forward to this, and thanks Teniqua for leading this essential work!
Some of the WESTAF businesses were challenged by the unexpected departure of a key sales person at the beginning of the year. This has meant keeping a close eye on short-term sales goals while also reviewing our longer term sales strategies and needs. On 2/7, The CaFE team released their first bona fide mobile version, which means that one of our most robust and growing products is now mobile optimized — a great accomplishment for our CaFE and Tech teams.
Next Update on 2/25. Feel free of course to reach out with any questions or comments. Thanks for everything you do for WESTAF!