Board of Trustees Bi-Weekly Recap

Bi-Weekly Recap: July 12, 2021

By July 13, 2021No Comments

July 12, 2021

Dear WESTAF team and trustees:

Hope everyone has been able to find some shade or otherwise beat the heat in the sweltering west this summer. Before I go ahead and jump right in, I just want to convey continuing appreciation to my WESTAF colleagues who regularly contribute to this update — thanks, guys! Here we go:

WESTAF has endorsed a piece of legislation, the Creative Economy Revitalization Act, which is due to be introduced by U.S. Representative Teresa Leger Fernandez (D-NM). The bill seeks $300m in funding through the Department of Labor and NEA to provide grants for various public-facing creative workforce projects across the country. The Congresswoman’s office does not want the prospective legislation to be promoted publicly in advance of this production, so please keep this information confidential at this time.

GIA has agreed to partner with WESTAF on the Creative Vitality™ Summit in September. David and Randy Engstrom, the co-director of the Summit, meet with Eddie Torres, president and CEO, and Nadia Elokdah, vice president and director of programs at GIA to discuss potential panelists, format, and framing questions for the opening session of the conference tentatively titled “New Economic Models and a More Just Economy.” Nadia Elokdah will moderate the panel and the group aims to invite panelists and have a planning call with them later in July. GIA is leading conversations in the field on the solidarity economy, and we are excited by this opportunity to partner with a known equity thought leader in arts and culture. David also met with Susan Soroko, a fellow member of the National Creative Economy Coalition Executive Committee, to discuss plans for a session on networks in the creative economy and an upcoming session at the International Economic Development Conference in Nashville in October. This week, David and Randy will be meeting with Jen Cole and her team at the ASU Herberger Institute on Design and the Arts to discuss plans for a session focused on creative work.

37 state arts agency team members representing 12 of the 13 Western states registered for a State Arts Agency Professional Development Program workshop led by Creativity Lab Colorado, representing 12 of 13 WESTAF states. 22 attended the session representing 9 of 13 Western states. The session led participants through a series of frameworks and case studies aimed at helping communities define long-term strategies that integrate arts, culture, and creativity as part of economic development. The session was recorded and we will make the recording available to our state arts agency network along with resources shared by Kevin Yoshida and Bill Marino of the Creativity Lab.

Inspire Washington invited representatives from Northwestern states, Alaska, Idaho, Washington, and Oregon, and WESTAF to continue discussions on a joint Cultural Congress building on the structure and history of Washington’s Cultural Congress. The group agreed to partner on developing regional panels and inviting regional guests to participate in Washington’s event this year with a view to a potential region-wide event in the summer of 2022. Manny Cawaling, WAAN co-chair and executive director of Inspire Washington, and David will discuss the potential of this initiative becoming a WAAN collaboration in our next meeting.

Applications for the WESTARP will close on Thursday, July 15. As of Friday, July 9, there were 29 applications submitted and 206 applications in progress. Of these 235 applications, 12 of the 13 states in the region are represented and most of the applications are from organizations with operating budgets under $550,000. Please review these graphics for more information.

WESTAF is seeking nominations for its upcoming review panels for the American Rescue Plan (ARP) Fund for Organizations. Panels will take place in August 2021, with multiple panels expected. Panelists will receive a stipend of $750 each, and WESTAF anticipates a total of at least 25 panelists. Nominees who have experience in leading and/or serving the following constituencies within the region will be prioritized: Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC), queer and trans BIPOC, LGBTQ+ constituencies, low-income communities, remote and rural communities (communities with fewer than 50,000 in population and isolated from metropolitan areas), individuals with disabilities, individuals in institutions, individuals below the poverty line, individuals with limited English proficiency, military veterans/active duty personnel, and opportunity youth. Nominators may nominate themselves or other individuals that they feel would be well-suited as panelists. While multiple nominations will be accepted, each nomination must be separate. All nominations are due by Friday, July 16, 2021. Potential panelists will be contacted by the end of July. Please follow this link to the nomination form. We currently have over 60 nominations.

The SRI Team has been undergoing a search for two newly constructed positions: 1) Grants and Accessibility Manager and 2) Grants and Equity Manager. Upon reflection during the search process, the Grants and Accessibility Manager title has been renamed to “Grants and Access Manager” to truly reflect the anticipated expansiveness of this work within SRI. From a robust applicant pool of over 40 applicants for each position, the search team narrowed down the list to six applicants each, resulting in a total of four exceptional candidates. One offer has been accepted for the Grants and Equity Manager position. The new staff member will start on August 2. We anticipate that the Grants and Access Manager position will be filled in the next few weeks. Final reference checks are being conducted during the week of July 12.

The Leaders of Color Skillshare is an opportunity for ELC Alumni to gather, connect and share practical wisdom and experience. Led by L.T. Martinez (ELC 2021) and Mariana Moscoso (ELC 2017) engaged the network in a movement practice, journaling and affirmation-building, centered on strategies for coping with the work of dismantling historical, societal and systemic barriers toward individual and collective liberation.

228 artists from across the country submitted applications for the first round of the Performing Arts Discovery program. Artists from this phase will be selected to have digital showcases produced for the Western Arts Alliance and Arts Midwest conferences and then shared with the Arts Endowment and international presenters. A Steering Committee, formed by WESTAF and composed of individuals nominated by the six regional arts organizations (RAOs), will meet this week. Anika and David are serving on the committee representing WESTAF. The other members of the committee are Cynthia Steele, national coordinator of the U.S. Regional Arts Organizations; Grace Roberts, producer, White Earth Land Recovery Project/Niijii Radio; Mia McGill, communications associate, Arts Midwest; Robyn Busch, program officer, international, Mid Atlantic Arts; Christine Bial, director, arts and humanities grant programs, Mid-America Arts Alliance; Adrienne Petrillo, senior program director, New England Presenting & Touring, Center Stage, NEFA; Tim Wilson, executive director, Western Arts Alliance; and Sage Crump, program specialist – LANE, National Performance Network.

Amy is working with Anika and David on the rather complex SRI budget that includes the various federal NEA funds. Becca and Amy are training for Paylocity – the new payroll system, and we’re very excited about this change! In addition to handling payroll, it will also be our online HR system, so personnel files no longer need to be maintained on paper. Becca and Jess are inventorying the furniture in the Sherman office and are creating a plan for donation. John Carpenter has been hired as the Finance Coordinator, where he will work directly supporting Lauren – he has loads of experience and we’re so excited to have him on our team! Hiring and onboarding continues with three positions being filled soon. Amy and Lauren have met with our USBank reps and are moving forward with the “check payables” feature, where checks can be cut and mailed through the USBank online portal. We’re hoping to implement this in August. Jess and Becca are setting up training with the Earth Class Mail team to set up our virtual mailroom services, which will also begin in August. The Celebration and Wellness Committees have planned tours of our new office in the Alliance Center in July.

The MarComm team is in the final stages of working on a CaFÉ Q4 email and social media campaign that will target local arts agencies (LAA’s), a brand new list that CaFÉ has never tapped into. The team is also working with the business department on providing insights for all technology products for a Q3 OKR report, along with building out a new GO Smart Features and TourWest page—all launching in Q4. A social media strategy is in the works for our upcoming 2021 Creative Vitality™ Summit, which will take place on Monday, September 20 and Tuesday, September 21, 2021. The team is also managing the virtual event platform for the Summit (Aventri) and is currently working on building out the event site, which will go live at the end of July.

The MarComm team has also released several communications recently. The Mackenzie Scott gift announcement was shared widely with our networks, from the WESTAF Now newsletter subscriber list to state arts agencies in the West. The team also created a registration feature for the July 8 SAA professional development session on creative storyboarding to streamline the registration process and communications with participants. In collaboration with the Social Responsibility and Inclusion (SRI) team, we have also released numerous announcements related to the American Rescue Plan Fund for Organizations, with an announcement of the open call for panel nominations distributed last week. Internally, the team is working on compiling a list of national state arts agency communications and program contacts to create more awareness of WESTAF and the organization’s work.

The Communications Cohort is preparing for the July meeting. The cohort has split into three teams to continue research and analysis in three key areas of WESTAF communication: products, awareness and process. Teams will finish research in three areas and prepare the first draft of the Discovery Report by the end of the month. Teams are working up to three rounds of draft and plan on incorporating BOT advisors for the second round of the draft. The equity cohort is trying to finish up a values statement meant to encompass how we as an organization want to be perceived treating people, with the qualities and standards at which we wish to be held to. The next steps are to reevaluate our internal leadership structure and discuss next projects. The cohort also decided to return to our original scoping doc and reevaluate our goals and plans for the cohort. The policy cohort is wrapping up the set of survey questions for state art agencies and state advocacy organizations in preparation for building a regional partner handbook. They will also be meeting later this month to discuss the next phases of the project.

We recently completed a mini audit of the SaaS product sales materials, and Christina is working on next steps to revamp these to more clearly illustrate the unique selling propositions, features, and benefits for each service. Blair and Natalie are preparing for the upcoming multi-factor authentication changes for the SaaS products, and they also continue to test for the launch of the new CaFE admin UI. We’ll soon begin preparing the QBR for the third quarter, and Christina has insights 1:1 meetings scheduled in July for everyone in the business department.

Raquel and Christina had a call with the legal and public art team at Denver International Airport to negotiate a contract for their return to CaFE. We’re hopeful for a quick turnaround since DIA wanted to get their calls up at the end of June. We also met internally to discuss the upcoming CaFE admin UI launch, and although we’re making great progress, there is a lot of manual testing on our side of things and for BRI (our Taos-based development house). We are likely pushing back the launch to Aug. 5. Paul continues to train on his new role with the CaFE team and has begun setting up new calls and sending invoices.

SMU Data Arts asked CVS to participate in an RFP for the Builders Initiative; however, due to the nature of slow moving conversations and the tight turnaround time to submit an RFP, we may not be able to make this collaboration work. Trevor and Natalie finished the enhancement backlog for FY22. The team is working on wrapping up end of quarter OKR reporting for Natalie and is set to meet by the end of the week. The Save the Date for the Creative Vitality Summit was sent last week. GrantMakers for the Arts have confirmed their part in the sponsorship of the event and several sessions have been planned.

Jessica has been working with several clients to finalize their renewal paperwork and pay overdue invoices. A new Help desk email log was created to record all client communications in a way that can be easily analyzed. Jessica is helping to field the questions that continue to come in from WESTAF ARP applicants. Samantha and Jessica finalized the first complete draft of the new product features page for the sales site.

Lori will be presenting July 10 at the upcoming virtual Urban Creativity Conference (Lisbon, Portugal) on a panel surrounding Structures – Practise driven approaches. PAA is about to begin work on the Alabama State Mural Trail, a project commissioned by the University of Alabama’s Center for Economic Development. The project will include a showcase page and map of mural paintings located throughout the state. PAA has also begun a soft launch of Collection-Specific web apps.

ZAPP’s support needs have slowed down over the past couple of weeks, which really allows our team to focus on larger scale projects. On the communication front, we are finalizing a sponsorship deal with The Independent Artist Podcast, working on updating our sales packet and continuing our Google Ads campaign which has created an increase in leads. We also finalized our first version of our budget for FY22, and along with that, we are finalizing our FY22 tech product backlog. We had a site outage from 3 to 8 a.m. June 24, though there was minimal impact to users and our developers, BRI, were able to quickly locate and resolve the problem once they were in the office.

Respectfully Submitted, Christian