Board of Trustees Bi-Weekly Recap

Bi-Weekly Recap: March 25, 2019

By April 18, 2019August 22nd, 2019No Comments

Hello again Board of Trustees:

Lots of good things happening at WESTAF — here’s a bi-weekly summary of activity. Thank you as always for your good work with WESTAF!

Director of Public Policy

On 3/22, we released the Director of Public Policy posting and job description. We sent the posting out via email to various WESTAF stakeholder groups (hopefully you received an email), on WESTAF social media channels and on some arts-related job posting sites. Our target date for identifying a successful candidate is 7/26. We’ll keep you posted on progress. You should have already received this notification in email form through Constant Contact – did you? Thank you for sharing out on your networks, and do let us know if you have any questions about the interview/hiring process or the position itself.


The leadership team is now operationalizing the BAR CAT model in deadlined phases: finalizing team titles and roles, re-writing director-level job descriptions and postings into set templates and reviewing team structure, through May. The leadership team’s (almost) finalized roles and titles to which we’ll be gradually transitioning over the next several months:



Executive Director  

Christian Gaines



Director of Business Strategy

Seyan Lucero



Director of Business Operations

Christina Villa



Director of Public Policy




Director of Social Responsibility & Inclusion

Chrissy Deal



Director of Marketing & Communications

Leah Horn



Director of Finance & Administration

Amy Hollrah



Director of Technology & Innovation

Adam Sestokas



Simultaneously, the leadership team has been laying out the initial building blocks of the strategic plan along a timeline: finalizing cohort guidelines, finalizing cohort sponsors, finalizing cohort participants, completing scoping docs, finalizing cohort leaders and identifying BOT advice, collaboration. This will culminate in an inter-office “StratPlan Faire” on 5/29 – 5/30, when we’ll be assembling cohorts for the first time, going over guidelines, receiving some communication/collaboration coaching, addressing queries and celebrating the launch of the work of our StratPlan cohorts!

Bomb Cyclone

As you probably all heard (and even experienced, perhaps!), severe weather passed through Denver last week. The WESTAF office was closed on Wednesday 3/13, then unexpectedly closed on Thursday 3/14 and Friday 3/15 as well. Even though the severe weather had passed, our office at 1888 Sherman St. had no power, phones, internet, or even water. The WESTAF team worked from home during this time. Thanks to the business team for maintaining business support for our customers during this time (thanks to some advanced planning) and to the leadership team for keeping up the communication with everyone as the situation evolved. Special thanks also to our technology team who were able to manage the rapidly changing situation and also managed to get our servers and equipment up and running in the office without any external support at all! I was proud of how everyone was in constant communication and handled the situation.

Notable Meetings

Busy few weeks of in-person and phone meetings: introductory call with the team at EMSI, the company that provides data for CVSuite; Lunch with Jay Seller, ED of the advocacy group Arts for Colorado; Brooke Huston, principal at PeopleFirm to learn more about their consulting around performance management; call with Michael Orlove, new head of regional and state agency partnerships at the NEA; Jonathan Boyd, head of Vital Spaces in Santa Fe; Brian Rogers, head of the Oregon Arts Commission; coffee with Dinah Zeiger, who is overseeing WESTAF’s archive project; Carla Mestas, equity consultant; Jaime Dempsey, ED at Arizona Commission on the Arts; Anne Bown-Crawford, ED of California Arts Council and lunch with Gary Steuer, ED of the Bonfils-Stanton Foundation. Really productive few weeks of learning and connections!

State Arts Agencies

On the calendar, I have confirmed trips to California, Arizona, Washington, Idaho, Nevada and New Mexico to meet the ED, advocacy group and other key figures in the regional arts communities. I am in-flight planning (although nothing confirmed) with Alaska, Oregon and Hawai‘i. Really excited and honored to be hosted by Creative Santa Fe and Vital Spaces for a dinner on 3/29 to welcome me to WESTAF, featuring a who’s who of movers and shakers in the Santa Fe arts community.

FY20 NEA Budget Update

You are probably aware that the current administration has proposed elimination of the NEA for the third consecutive year. We drafted a communication to our advocates but are holding off on sending any communications until we have developed a strategy and message around this latest attempt to zero out NEA funding, in light of the ambitious $167.5 million ask that the arts community descended on the Hill with earlier this month. The House Committee on Appropriations: Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies has a meeting scheduled for next week. We will be tracking any developments, and Leah will be in touch with information on how we plan to activate our advocates who are constituents of members of the full House and Senate Appropriations Committees and the Subcommittees on the Interior.

DC Meetings

On 4/22 and 4/23, Leah Horn and I are heading to Washington, DC to visit with the NEA, AFTA and NASAA, among other meetings still in development. This will be a chance for us to meet Mary Anne Carter and Michael Orlove in their new roles at the NEA.

Meeting Mapping

Following Teniqua’s stated desire to conduct some “meeting mapping” around MAC and ELC convenings past and future, we are broadening this project at WESTAF to include a review and overview of all of our organization-wide meetings occurring over the next 1-2 years. Variables to consider when determining meeting locations include: cost; rural vs. urban location; whether we have a board member from that state; whether we have alum from the ELC program in that state; what is happening from a public policy standpoint in that state; and have we been there before recently. Regular meetings that will be a part of the meeting mapping process include: board meetings, executive committee meetings, MAC meetings, ELC convenings, ED forums, SAA Professional Development workshops and other potential convenings TBD.

Rural Generation Summit

WESTAF has received travel support from the NEA to invite two regional arts leaders to the Rural Generation Summit in Jackson, Mississippi. Tey Marianna Nunn (former WESTAF Trustee, current Multicultural Advisory Committee member and director and chief curator of the Art Museum and Visual Arts Program at the National Hispanic Cultural Center) and Hunter Old Elk (alumni of the ELC 2017 cohort and Curatorial Assistant at the Plains Indian Museum at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West) will join Chrissy Deal and me from May 22-24 at this important convening. We look forward to learning more about how WESTAF can support and participate in important work happening in rural communities across the region.

Grantmakers in the Arts

WESTAF became an official member of GIA and, shortly after, submitted a revised session proposal for the upcoming GIA conference in October titled “Living Out Values: How a commitment to emerging leaders of color in the arts amplifies new voices and shapes the future of the field.” During the deep dive case study, ELC staff (Chrissy), faculty (Tamara Alvarado) and alumni (Alexandria Jimenez) will speak to the circumstances that led to the program’s inception, its evolution, its influence on WESTAF and effectiveness in positioning alumni to lead the charge for a more inclusive sector. The session will be moderated by Tariana Navas-Nieves, Director of Cultural Affairs, Denver Arts and Venues (Tariana has also been a member of the Colorado delegation at the Arts Leadership and Advocacy Seminar in recent years.)


With a final release to make the calendar functionality responsive for artists, the CaFE front-end is now fully responsive on all mobile devices. This should continue to position the site well in SEO rankings and specifically for Google search results. ZAPP closed a sale on a large contract with a customer based in Naples, Florida that has three shows, each of which typically collect more than 500 applications. This is particularly exciting because the customer has been a long-time user of a ZAPP competitor and because shows that collect 500+ applications are difficult sales to close.

Creative Vitality Suite

McLean County Regional Planning Commission recently subscribed to CVSuite. The San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture and Sante Fe Tourism have shown an intent to subscribe, which is exciting. This spring, CVSuite is getting back into development gear with a plan to migrate to PHP 7 and update the site with new economic data from the BEA and BLS. We would also like to implement a small enhancement to allow users to save code groupings, which would make it easier for users to switch between different code analysis. As mentioned in the previous bi-weekly, CVSuite is moving forward with a few different marketing campaigns: new Emsi report offerings, five-year uses of CVSuite data, top 25 lists, and reconnecting with potentials on our sales lists.

Public Art Archive

The manager for PAA will go on maternity leave in mid May. A leave plan is in place with select staff and contractors prepared to cover business as usual. Lani Morris, from the CaFE team, will represent WESTAF and PAA at AFTA this year in Lori’s place. Also, two new collection management system (CMS) clients were added: Broward County, FL and the Arts Council of Lake Oswego (OR).


That’s all for now — thank you for all you do!