Greetings WESTAF Trustees:
This bi-weekly update is coming at you a few days late (apologies) as I’ve been on the road visiting arts organizations, WESTAF friends and constituents in Phoenix (thank you, Teniqua Broughton!) and Reno (thank you, Dana Bennett!). A more complete update on the outcomes of these visits will be forthcoming in the next bi-weekly. In the meantime, here’s a slightly abbreviated one, because we’ll be diving into lots of WESTAF goings-on at the Board of Trustees meeting in Bozeman, MT next week:
BAR CAT and STRAT PLAN
We’ll be giving a complete progress report on items related to these two org planning areas at the Bozeman meeting next week, but there has been lots of activity on these fronts over the past two weeks in preparation for an all-team briefing scheduled for this Monday, May 13 prior to the BOT meeting, and then a full rollout of scoping docs and cohort guidelines at the StratPlan Faire on May 29-30 in the Denver office. Facilitating this journey will be coach and fearless peer group leader Val Atkin, who I have worked with a lot in the past and who I think is pretty wonderful!
BOZEMAN MEETING PLANNING
Thanks so much to trustee Cyndy Andrus for helping to organize our time in Bozeman next week! We have a wonderful dinner with some great guests and conversation planned—more details to come on this and on the board meeting itself in the board book, which should be on its way in the next day or two. I’m also really pleased that Cyndy has agreed to give an encore performance of her “Rural Prosperity and the Arts”—delivered at a congressional briefing last week—at the board meeting. I watched the webcast and it’s a really insightful and informative and will give you a great feel for some vibrant rural arts communities in our host state.
WASHINGTON, DC TRIP
From April 22-23, WESTAF colleague Leah Horn and I spent a productive few days in Washington, DC meeting with various WESTAF friends and partners. The trip kicked off with a meet ‘n’ greet with our friends at the Endowment, including Acting Chair Mary Anne Carter, regular WESTAF contact Andi Mathis and new incoming State and Regional Director Michael Orlove. Also present was new chief of staff (and dear WESTAF friend and ally) Tom Simplot. This was a highly cordial and productive meeting, with much of it spent learning more about Mary Anne’s western trip, planned for later in the summer and culminating with time spent at Burning Man. WESTAF will be working closely with Tom once Mary Anne’s itinerary firms up (now still very much in flux) to make sure that SAA EDs in the states she’s visiting will be able to have some input into her schedule. Also met with previous WESTAF trustee and chair Dale Erquiaga, which was really pleasant (really nice fellow). Also met with Michael Bracy, and had good meetings with Bob Lynch at AFTA and Pam Breaux at NAASA. It was a great opportunity to get these strategically important WESTAF relationships up to speed.
From April 24-25, Erin and I met with the five other RAO EDs and their board chairs at a retreat in Burlington, VT. The retreat was expertly facilitated by WESTAF friend Margie Reese and covered a range of topics—notably equity practices, newer generations transitioning into RAO and SAA staffs and other topics. It was generally acknowledged that this was a “new day” for RAO relationships and the ability to work together, and it was noted that, as a group, we’re addressing transitions and “new blood” in the arts administration community, including in board leadership. While I’m optimistic that we will seize the day, and there were some moderately bold ideas floated on how we can better represent ourselves as a cohesive organizational body of RAOs, there was also some hesitation/trepidation expressed that this could actually come to pass. We’ll keep pushing, and keep you posted on RAO developments.
ZAPP & CaFE
The CaFE team is working on updating its front-end site with a new homepage image and other visuals submitted to CaFE from artists in the western region. The team is also finishing up a sales video and a revised page to highlight its promotional call e-blast service, both of which should be launched before May ends. ZAPP is finishing up a second round of updates and fixes to the ZAPP Next product and working on additional changes to the jury view. The latter changes are slated to launch by May 15. Mobile development and the implementation of Braintree as ZAPP’s payment processor are underway, as well.
The PAA manager is now on maternity leave. Lani Morris will will manage the program in her absence, and she’ll help with the deployment of the new front-end WordPress site along with the tech team.
CREATIVE VITALITY SUITE
Of significance, both happy and sad to report that Paul Nguyen, an 11-year WESTAF staffer and manager of CVSuite, will be leaving the organization for an excellent opportunity at JumpCloud, a Boulder-based startup. Paul really drove the build out of this product. He is a very good person, and he’ll be sorely missed! We have already begun the search for his replacement, and we’re still moving ahead with our “thought leader” strategy for this product of developing and distributing creative economy curriculum, publishing “Top 25 lists” and moving ahead with sales plans to position WESTAF as a leader in this space with SAAs, community investors, downtown development associations, commercial real estate developers and other likely users.
Thank you for your stewardship of WESTAF!