Greetings WESTAF Board of Trustees:
Hello again from Denver! Here’s a brief bi-weekly update before we head to Utah next week for our first meeting of 2019. I’m looking forward to seeing you all again! Hopefully, you have all received your Board Book by now — thank you to Samantha Ortega for her great work putting this together. Don’t hesitate to be in touch if you have any questions at all about our time together in Salt Lake City.
State Arts Agencies
I was able to reach out to each of our thirteen member state arts agencies (SAAs) this week. I did this with a broad message of greetings and introduction as well as individual notes to each Executive Director, inviting a telephone call and an in-person visit over the next 2-3 months. I’ve had some good responses and some encouraging back-and-forth. I had a great meet ‘n’ greet lunch with Margaret Hunt (Colorado) last week and I have calls set up with Jaime Dempsey (Arizona) and Ann Bown-Crawford (California), Jenice Gharib (interim, New Mexico) with others pending. I am “scoring” myself with each ED from 0 (have not met them, am not really familiar with the unique issues or concerns of their state) to 5 (have a strong relationship, and I’m familiar with their state). Out of a maximum score of 65 (13 x 5), I am currently at 37/65 which is…ok I guess, and will be working on pulling up this score over the next 1-2 months.
Visit with Brownrice Internet
Visited our longtime web developer Brownrice Internet in Taos, New Mexico with WESTAF colleagues Adam Sestokas and Seyan Lucero. Had a really pleasant meet ‘n’ greet dinner with the Brownrice team, then a productive meeting the following day. We’ll be reviewing this long term WESTAF partnership over the next 3-6 months to ensure that this relationship with WESTAF’s largest vendor (by far) is as efficient and productive as possible.
NEA Regional Panel Telephone Meeting
This past week, the NEA gathered together their panelists in a telephone conference to review and comment upon funding requests from the six Regional Arts Organizations (RAOs), which includes WESTAF. These funding requests are submitted every three years, and WESTAF had just recently submitted ours. This is an opportunity to listen to the panelists, but not comment. I’m pleased to say that the panelists’ comments were all-around very positive about WESTAF’s application, and complimentary about many of our programs (like ELC and TourWest). They were also appreciative of our unique funding model. It was a good call, overall, so kudos to the team (especially Seyan and Amy) who worked on this proposal!
Re-Imagining WESTAF Team Structure
Prior to breaking down and operationalizing the first tasks of the Strategic Plan, the WESTAF leadership team has been working on modernizing the way we see ourselves as an organization with as many different moving parts as we have. Over the past several weeks, a model has emerged that we’ll first be presenting to the extended team on Monday before presenting to the BOT on Thursday in SLC. This is not a “restructuring” of the organization, but rather a way to think about how we approach the purpose-driven nature of our work, combined with the support-driven infrastructure that enables it. More to come at the board meeting!
Similarly, following our great meetings at the beginning of February with Erin and Tamara, we’ll also be building consensus with the team on Monday around how we will be approaching and breaking down the first elements of our strategic plan. I will also present this to the BOT during the meeting next week. It’s really exciting work and I’m looking forward to your questions and feedback!
As you may know, we entered into a strategic partnership some time ago with Lyrasis, a nonprofit that offers digital solutions and content services to archives, museums and libraries. Our current relationship with them revolves around our use of the Public Art Collection Management tool within our nascent but emerging Public Art Archive utility. Last Friday, we had a spirited and productive meeting with Lyrasis senior leadership, with several other potential engagement points between our two orgs (that are not dissimilar in their unusual funding structures, BTW) emerging from the meeting. More to come on this strategic partnership and ways that it could inure to the benefit of WESTAF.
Some Misc. Meetings of Note
Had some productive working lunches with Margaret Hunt (per above) as well as Anthony Radich (we keep up to date and in close touch because I always have a lot of questions for him in his role as Director Emeritus!) and Tony Garcia, former WESTAF trustee, which was really wonderful. Looking forward to lunch today with Todd Stein, CEO of the Mid America Arts Alliance (an RAO) as well as a call with Teniqua Broughton and a call with a potential new WESTAF trustee representing Colorado.
Next update on 3/8. See you all next week, and thank you again for entrusting me to lead this wonderful organization.