It’s a really busy season at WESTAF—lots has unfolded with lots more in development! Read on…
This situation continues to unfold in a frightful way. While there is still some hope pinned to the Capital Budget, there is not a lot of attendant optimism for a positive outcome. On Friday morning, WESTAF released an official statemen to all of social media channels and email lists to level-set its stance and commitment regarding the situation. During our State Arts Agency Professional Development Session in Denver last week, we hosted a moderated Q&A session with ASCA Chair Ben Brown and ASCA staffer Keren Lowell. While Keren and Ben touched on many aspects of this complex and dynamic situation, we also learned about the director of Alaska’s Office of Management and Budget, Donna Arduin, who is developing a budget-slashing playbook for a variety of arts, culture, health and human services. If she appears in your state, please pay attention! This was a candid and highly informational breakdown of the anatomy of this situation for their SAA colleagues in the other twelve western states. We recorded this session and will be transcribing it for further use.
I spent a wonderful few days in Honolulu with WESTAF trustee Jonathan Johnson and his team, and gave a presentation to the SFCA board of commissioners. Other notable meetings included time spent with Georja Skinner, Director of the Creative Industries division of DBEDT, Hawaii’s arts lobbyist Jon Okudura, FestPac Executive Director Vicky Holt Takamine, Film Office Director Donne Dawson, filmmaker Meleanna Myer and made visits to the Hawaii State Art Museum and the Honolulu Museum of Art. It felt good to be back in a place where I spent a really important part of my life.
After lots of really great work from the team, we now have a balanced Version 2 of our FY20 budget that is in pretty good shape. There is some good ownership and LTR consensus built into this budget.
Leah has been working on WESTAF’s FY20 Master Marketing and Communications Plan and is meeting with product teams over the next two weeks to clarify business and revenue goals to inform the respective marketing goals and strategies for each product. She also recently shared with her future team their finalized job descriptions, which will take effect Oct. 1. She is currently putting together a document for comm projects that the team will prioritize in Q1. The MarComm team will begin planning for marketing initiatives for tech projects in August, after teams have been introduced to Seyan’s OKRs process in late July. The July edition of the Update Notes went out last week, and on Friday, WESTAF released widely an official response to the funding veto in Alaska. It will go out on all WESTAF social channels as well as to our main email lists.
COMMUNICATIONS STRATEGIC PLANNING COHORT
The Communications cohort is currently doing some branding evaluation work for the tech products and WESTAF’s programs and services. Their branding documents are being shared with Business Strategy and the MarComm team in order to help inform the sales strategy for each product and the communication strategy for the new WESTAF verticals in BAR CAT. The CVSuite Top 20 campaign is moving forward—we are still creating the digital materials and have adjusted the timeline for a mid-August launch. Kelly has taken over the CVSuite quarterly newsletter and blog and sent July editions for both. GO Smart is working on a July-August sales campaign to follow up with existing leads and Leah will be working with Kelly to draft a FY20 marketing strategy for GO Smart that will help the FY20 business goal of maintaining existing clientele.
The Leadership Resource Team (LTR) conducted a half-day listening and strategizing session last week to process the changes precipitated by BAR CAT and the Strategic Plan. Chrissy Deal put together a a really powerful agenda and the overall feedback from the session was really positive and much needed.
NATIONAL CREATIVE PLACEMAKING SUMMIT
I have been invited to serve on the Planning Committee of the next National Creative Placemaking Summit, scheduled in Phoenix, AZ from November 14-16.
SAA PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT SESSION
Last week, over twenty colleagues from State Arts Agencies across the West came to Denver for two days to participate in a professional development session and to network with their peers in a casual atmosphere. In addition to the Alaska update (reported on above), the group had an action-packed agenda and it was my first time attending this convening, which I found really enlightening and useful (and the group seemed pretty energized and excited, too!)
UPCOMING OCTOBER BOT MEETING PLANNING
Working on the planning and agenda for the upcoming BOT meeting in Denver from October 23-24. This included sending a missive to the current MAC and inviting them to Denver during this time to participate in the latter part of the meeting to offer reflections and feedback of their time on the MAC as we transition to the new EIC committee structure in January.
2020 RAO RETREAT PLANNING OPPORTUNITY
The Regional Arts Organizations (RAOs) will be conducting their next retreat from March 30-April 1, 2020. This includes EDs as well as the Chairs of each of the six national RAOs. I have been charged with identifying and confirming a suitable spot in the West. Any suggestions?
A productive few weeks in board development. Amber-Dawn Bear Robe and Paul Nguyen have both been approached and engaged in the possibility of joining the board. Dana Bennett has several suggestions for a Nevada trustee replacement. The Burning Man organization has also been approached and is engaged. We’re also initiating the process of renewing the SAA position currently held by Vicki Bourns. As a reminder, please don’t hesitate to enter in some prospective BOT candidates into the Trustee portal if you have any potential trustee suggestions!
We updated our servers to Amazon Aurora, a newer database offered by Amazon, that should offer increased speed and reliability for the ZAPP system. The target launch date for the mobile-responsive artist side of ZAPP has been pushed out a few weeks because of delays from our developers.
CaFE also updated its servers to Amazon Aurora. In the sales realm, we’ve officially communicated to the longtime CaFE sales contractor that we will not be renewing her contract that ends Sept. 30. Instead, we are hiring a full-time staff member to coordinate CaFE and ZAPP sales.
Summer renewals were all very successful, save for the news about Alaska. $78,450.00 of revenue coming in from 12 summer renewals. Received $28,750 to date. South Arts is contracting us to build their panel and final report for a little extra revenue. The City of Lewisville offered helpful feedback about their SaaS needs and the City of Santa Monica is having a conversation with us on Monday. Three-pronged intensive marketing follow up scheduled for August 2019 to further engage 25-50 potential leads with whom we’ve been interacting since last November. Email #1 will be a more generic ask for their grant management needs. Jessica and Kelly are culling existing lists for best candidates. Building toward Leah’s FY20 plans for client retention and building brand loyalty while also creating a digital pipeline for potential clients. In total, currently 36 clients across all GO platforms.
UPCOMING VISITS AND TRIPS
Washington state. Looking forward to spending some time in Yakima and Tieton, WA with trustee Karen Hanan. ArtsWA and its board of commissioners are planning a visit in August. In addition to the state arts commission being in town, the NEA’s Tom Simplot (Arts Policy Advisor, Office of the Senior Deputy Chairman) and Josh Mauthe (Senior Advisor, Office of the Senior Deputy Chairman) will be with us as well. That puts a wide presence of arts service organizations in Yakima all at one time and in one place. State, regional and national-level perspectives will join the local perspective. An NEA grant workshop has also been scheduled. This will be open to any and all arts orgs and individuals who are interested. The workshop will be followed by a panel that will feature reps from the state, regional, national and local levels. The idea is to get area arts organizations and artists to gather for this opportunity; to allow people from the region involved in the arts/creative economy to engage in conversation with the panelists and to pose and get answers to questions.
Burning Man. I will be attending one of the largest and most radical arts events in the western states and in the world—Burning Man, the week of August 26. During this time, I will be participating in a one-day tour for the US Conference of Mayors, which will also have Mary Anne Carter, Acting Chair of the NEA, in attendance.
Sacramento for Executive Committee Mtg. On September 11-12, the WESTAF Executive Committee will be meeting in Sacramento. In addition to conducting the work of WESTAF, we will also be hosting a small dinner for some of our Sacramento friends, including Lucero Arellano, Jason Schmelzer (California’s lobbyist), Anne Bown-Crawford (head of the CAC) and Julie Baker (head of CFTA) and visiting the arts collaborative, Sol Collective.
Emsi Conference. Seyan, Kelly and I will be attending the Emsi conference in Idaho in September.
NASAA Leadership Conference. Coming up in from September 18-20 is the NASAA Leadership Institute.
Personal: Bhutan Expedition. From November 1-11, I will be part of a small group of adventurers traveling to Bhutan in South Asia where we will be trekking, rafting and visiting the legendary Tiger’s Nest monastery.
Thanks so much for your good work with WESTAF!