Board of Trustees Bi-Weekly Recap

Bi-Weekly Recap: September 7, 2021

By September 16, 2021No Comments

September 7, 2021


Hello WESTAF community!

Hoping that everyone reading this had a fun and restful holiday weekend! Before we dive into this biweekly update, I just wanted to offer huge thanks to trustee Susan Garbett, who has arranged for the WESTAF staff to attend a special friends-and-family preview of the new Meow Wolf experience in Denver — Convergence Station. Thanks Susan — we’re really looking forward to it! Let’s just jump right in:

As of 9/1, over 300 people had registered to participate in the Creative Vitality Summit. 40 speakers, panelists and facilitators are confirmed, and new speakers and panelists confirmed since the last update include:

  • Javier Torres-Campos, Program Director, Thriving Cultures, Surdna Foundation
  • Edna Dos Santos-Duisenberg, International Policy Advisor, Creative Economy and Economic Development
  • Karen Hoffman, Provost, Art Center College of Design
  • Srini Srinivasan, CEO, LUMIUM; President, World Design Organization

A little over two weeks out, the team is focused on finalizing a pre-conference paper; ensuring all the speakers register; finalizing the Aventri event site; conducting technology checks; and planning each of the sessions with the respective speakers. There is growing enthusiasm across the field for this event.

David was invited to join the Study-into-Action Incubator, a new initiative instigated by the Haystack Mountain School of Crafts and Open Collective Foundation with support from Grantmakers in the Arts and the William & Flora Hewlett Foundation, as well as funds from sending partners: Weavers Fellowship (New Orleans), Recess Art (New York City), Minneapolis College of Art and Design (Minneapolis), the Joan Mitchell Foundation (New York City and New Orleans), Arizona State University (Tempe), The Field (New York City), Drexel University (Philadelphia), and the Guild of Future Architects (National). He is part of a cohort with artists and creative workers, arts administrators, and grantmakers from across the nation, including representatives from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and Justice Funders. The 8-week program aims to connect cultural innovators across silos who do not know one another well, but are building relationships across culture and the solidarity economy and “creating the cultural economy we want.”

A shortlist of 11 candidates (out of an applicant pool of 105) has been selected for first round interviews for the Manager of Public Policy and Advocacy position. HR Manager Becca Dominguez and David will conduct first round interviews. A candidate review committee has been formed that includes members from HR, the Business team, the Alliances, Advocacy, and Public Policy team, the Social Responsibility and Inclusion team, and the WESTAF Board of Trustees. This committee will interview finalists and make recommendations to HR and the Director of Impact and Public Policy.

On Sunday 8/29, Moana, David, and Christian met with Sandy S. Flores of the Guam Council on Humanities and the Arts Agency (CAHA) to discuss agency plans, discussions about Pacific jurisdiction engagement of US Regional Arts Organizations, and WESTAF’s emerging strategy to engage the Pacific jurisdictions through current and future programming. The team is preparing follow-up resources for Sandy and will continue dialogue with CAHA colleagues as we formulate a proposal for Pacific arts and cultural agency engagement in WESTAF. 

Anika Kwinana was invited to join GIA’s Racial Equity Community of Practice for Experienced Practitioners Workshop. Working with state arts agencies from across the West and national arts organizations in a community of practice to explore ways to change, evolve or advance organizational practices to be pro-BIPOC and to organize other colleagues to collaborate in these ideas. The practice group will work together over four weeks in September, in support of each other’s goals and then each cohort member will work to execute the goals within their respective agency/organization.

The SRI team has received all panelists scores for the WESTAF ARP and is using those to inform their final recommendations to the executive committee. The SRI team anticipates that final recommendations will be sent to the executive committee for approval no later than September 10.

As reported in our last biweekly, the Regional Arts Organizations (RAOs) have been in regular meetings with National Endowment for the Arts leadership to discuss a potential new equity-focused grant making program utilizing dollars appropriated by the Biden Administration for this purpose. The endowment would award dollars to the RAOs, which would each administer programs in their regions, working from a shared vision. Anika, David and Christian attended a follow-up meeting to further discuss and to begin to focus in on some details. Now the RAOs are putting together a 1-2 page brief outlining the program to which our endowment colleagues can react.

Christian virtually attended a NASAA budget and planning committee meeting to discuss the NASAA Action plan for FY22.

Christian and Cameron attended a meeting at the new Bonfils Stanton Foundation offices to learn more from developers about the proposed May Bonfils Stanton Theater in Southwest Denver, part of the Loretto Heights Campus redevelopment. The community’s interest in seeing a restored May Bonfils Stanton Theater is strong, as is the need for this type of venue in this part of town. The theater allows for endless creative use of space which could potentially include visual arts, gallery and exhibition venues, rehearsal, and education classrooms — all possible in this exciting project. The community in southwest Denver will continue to inform the priorities and the vision for the May Bonfils Stanton Theater and this much anticipated next chapter for the Loretto Heights Campus. 

The July cash financials are available to review: July cash summary and accompanying memo and the August (and last of the year) cash projections. As the memo states, we are 83% through the year at the end of July with only two more months until the end of our fiscal year on 9/30. With that benchmark, we continue to be behind in both income and expense with some notable exceptions such as CaFE on line 6. A reminder that WESTAF loaned ZAPP four management fees so the income on line 9 is 50% of budget and will remain behind the rest of the year. This loan was forgiven by the WESTAF executive committee this summer. The purple totals on line 39 provide income and expense without the Mellon subawards included, getting us a net $33,895 in cash. As always, our accrual totals vary dramatically from cash as noted in line 41 and 43. Please let Amy know if you have questions!

The MarComm team continues to track metrics for the three paid social media campaigns that launched at the beginning of August and is getting ready to launch another two campaigns that will run for the month of September. With the Creative Vitality™ Summit just a couple of weeks away, we’ve been busy working on a multitude of social media initiatives to spread the word about the Summit, including brief video introductions by Summit panelists Tariana Nava-Nieves, Susan Soroko, and Ted Russell. We are also working very closely with the business department to refine each tech product’s unique selling propositions and are excited to share that they will be complete right in time for the new fiscal year!  

The MarComm team is in the process of compiling items for inclusion in the September National Endowment for the Arts newsletter. As the total number of Creative Vitality™ Summit registrations pass 300, the team has been busy finalizing external communications leading up to the event for speakers, partners, and participants. We are also making continuous updates to the Summit website, adding new content, and refining and cross-checking existing pages and content. The resources page will be live soon, and the team is in the process of building out the virtual event lobby. Planning for the in-person October board meeting in Denver continues, along with updates to the MarComm team’s FY22 master communications plans.

The policy cohort met on August 24 to discuss the overall results of the regional partner handbook survey. They were pleased to see that the majority of our respondents would find something like the Regional Partner Handbook to be useful for their state art agency or art advocacy organization. Our discovery phase continues this month as the cohort researches existing advocacy handbooks and discusses the elements they want to include in our own. The cohort is also preparing for our workshop at the board meeting in October.

Christina is finalizing a transition of CVSuite’s contract to our digital signing service and getting caught up from being out on vacation for a few days. She’s also cleaning up some administrative tasks in the technology department and working with Adam on a contract basis to secure a contract and transition to ExtraHop, a company we’ll work with to enhance our cybersecurity. Natalie V. is on vacation until after the holiday, and Blair is managing the SaaS tech work in her absence while also coordinating our in-person meeting with BRI in mid-September. 

CaFE welcomed 15 new clients in August, including the Southwest Association for Indian Arts, the Lac Vieux Desert Indian Tribe’s The Contemporary at Northern Waters Resort, and the James Wise Gallery at Norfolk State University (an HBC/U). One $10k e-blast package was sold to a client that consisted of 22 e-blasts for 22 calls running between September and December. Currently in the sales pipeline we have the Museum of Science and Industry (Chicago), and the Salvation Army ready to sign. And finally, our featured CaFE client for August is Artspace 111.

CVSuite is approaching the three-week countdown for the Creative Vitality Summit and is beginning to work more closely with the policy cohort and David on meeting logistics. Kelly has been working with the Idaho Arts Commission and rural mountain communities on launching a creative labor survey titled, Count Yourself Creative. The initiative is the first step in piloting a creative district program for the state and they have plans to use the CVSuite data to benchmark their efforts. Micheal Semen, a candidate for the CVSuite Influencer project, has approached us with a new project which will be evaluating the film industry, and we have agreed to provide some supplementary data for the project. The project is expected to get a lot of press. CVSuite has pushed their latest enhancement to be released on September 22 because the development team, Zing, was a bit behind.

GO Smart has been invited to participate in a product showcase for the Technology Association of Grantmakers in early December. Jessica and Christina made progress on a new pricing structure for GO Smart, with the idea to implement three pricing plans. We will begin implementing three potential pricing plans. The first mirrors our current process of charging for 12 months per active program but would now also include charges for lingering activities if programs close and will not be renewed after a client’s 12-month subscription has expired. Clients would have flexible payment periods and a la cart activities options, as well. The new structure was utilized during the renewal for San Antonio Department of Arts and Culture and it was very well received. Jessica is training Jade Elyssa on GO Smart so they can help to take over the WESTAF ARP grant program from Anika. Jessica is working closely with the new team from Sacramento Arts who are needing to stay on GO Smart longer than they had anticipated after learning their plans for a state software system have paused. 

PAA recently opened discussions with Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum at Saginaw Valley State University to potentially develop a collection-specific map and app of the public works of the artist located internationally. If this project moves forward, this will be the first use case of collection engagement tools specific to the work of a singular artist. Lori is also pleased to report that the first round of designs for WESTAF’s Women Suffrage Mural, by local artist Adri Norris, has been submitted to Council District 11 for review.

Late August brought ZAPP three new sales, one of which is the American Craft Council, and seven new sales inquiries. Our sales team has been working on updating our unique selling proposition and documents for the sales front to increase the ratio of sales/leads generated. We are also building out a few bundle packages for our add-on services in order to increase sales of ZAPP Onsite and the Gallery feature. We had one client use ZAPP Onsite (offered in 2021 for free to help ease the financial burden for shows from the pandemic) for their show last week, and Saint Louis Art Fair will use it again for their sixth consecutive year next weekend. 


Respectfully submitted,