December 13, 2021
Greetings WESTAF community:
Got some great feedback that we should mix up the order of the biweekly reporting, so business (and ZAPP ) wasn’t always at the end of the biweekly. So, we’re kicking off with news of all of the excellent work that is happening across our business platforms! And there is some terrific progress. In this biweekly, you’ll see some well-deserved kudos from our CaFE customers going to our support team (well done, guys). Also, a new customer was announced in CVSuite, and some major news on the Public Art Archive front, as well. Our technology platforms are really off to a strong start this fiscal year! In other news, I would also urge you to review the program review, which unpacks survey data and other stakeholder feedback across Social Responsibility and Inclusion, and Alliances, Advocacy and Public Policy programs in FY21, as well as the FY21 Activity Report, which presents the collaborative work of the AAP division aligned with WESTAF strategic plan, particularly the State Arts Agency Services and Advocacy, National Services and Advocacy, and Thought Leadership and Reach strategic plan offerings Just super work, and invaluable in our efforts to focus, prioritize and serve our field as effectively as possible as we get fully underway for 2022 guided by our FY22 Initiatives. With the year winding down and as we head into the holidays, just a few quick notes: first, the biweekly updates will be taking a little holiday break. The next biweekly update (and the first of the calendar year 2022) will hit your email inbox on Monday, January 10, and at that time (and long overdue!), we’ll be adding our EIC committee members-at-large to the biweekly distribution list. Before diving into this round of updates, let me wish everyone a super holiday season. While 2021 brought struggles and unknowns along with this stubborn pandemic and other threats, WESTAF has nevertheless adapted, thrived, and focused like never before on serving artists and arts organizations in the western region and beyond. Our staff and trustees are trusting, passionate, empathetic, and wicked smart. With ambitious plans and programs in development for 2022 fueled by a healthy balance sheet, WESTAF is on the move. As I reflect on the past year, I am filled with gratitude to be a part of this supportive community. Heartfelt thanks and appreciation to everyone that’s reading this. Happy Holidays to all, and onwards to an effective, dynamic 2022! Read on…
GENERAL BUSINESS (CV)
In business, we’ve been working hard to accomplish work in this first quarter. Christina wrapped up a scoping doc for the CaFE internationalization project that will be shared with the teams for feedback, along with the work on PAA that Lori describes a bit further down in the PAA section. Blair and Natalie V. are working on updating business rules for all of our SaaS applications and testing — there’s always more testing! Blair will lead a refresh meeting with the business department on Monday to review the projections process ahead of January when our first round of projections for the year will be due, and Natalie V. recently completed an important sales automation for the CaFE team to better help Ken keep up with prospective customers.
Natalie V., Blair, and Ben have been working on finalizing a few larger enhancement tickets for us to submit to BRI in the next few days. An interactive booth map has been requested for many years for our administrators, and we have been excited to outline what that looks like for a first iteration and figure out what all our clients need from this feature as they plan out their booth selections. We are also working on adding in a new feature to allow administrators to collect documents and other files, such as headshots, menus, and tax documents, directly on the application. Accepting documents is going to be really valuable as we grow our users to include more non-traditional art fairs as part of our OKRs this year. We are excited for these tickets to be developed and ready to launch in Q2!
Exceptional customer experience is one of the reasons CaFE has a loyal customer base, and this month we want to recognize our customer experience team of Raymond, Sara, and Ayanna for their warm and personalized customer service approach in both ZAPP and CaFÉ. Here are just a few of the praises customers have for the team:
For Sara, “I have worked in hospice for 16 years and they teach us to practice kindness and always have a generous spirit – I find those qualities in you. Thank you for being so nice.”
For Ayanna, “Thank you, Ayanna, for your consistent assistance and for emailing me to encourage me to keep trying. So very much appreciated.”
For Raymond, “I am totally blown away by how kind and responsive you are, over there!! Thank you!”
We can’t say enough about how much the team exemplifies the mission we strive for in CaFÉ.
CVSuite tech team is working hard on the data update to data version 2020.4. We have hit a few minor obstacles that delayed the release by a week. We are now looking at a data release on Dec. 21, just before the holidays. CVSuite has moved into contract negotiations with a new client, Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. They are licensing a state-level subscription and we expect them to be in the system by January 2022. Kelly and Paul were invited to give a guest lecture for Michael Seman’s graduate cultural policy class at Colorado State University, where they provided a WESTAF overview, showcased the CVSuite tool and shared stories of the legislative impacts from CVSuite data.
GO SMART (JG)
Jessica and Natalie S. conducted a 15-minute presentation of GO Smart features to 180+ registrants at the Technology Association of Grantmakers’ first virtual product showcase. The MarComm team will create a small marketing campaign around this presentation and follow up with registrants early in the new year. Work continues on the program cycles technology update as BRI and our internal teamwork through several failures found in testing. Jessica is building a grant application for the City of Sacramento Arts + Culture and building the panel for South Arts Cultural Treasures program. Chattanooga Arts had a few minor questions and requests regarding their contract and we expect the executed copy returned by the end of the week.
PUBLIC ART ARCHIVE (LG)
We are pleased to announce that WESTAF will be making an investment into the Public Art Archive to accelerate the growth of the program over the next few years. As part of this investment, the PAA team will be adding a new coordinator position for the first time since the program’s inception. We have already received over 40 applications in the first few days since the posting has been publicized. Additionally, PAA will issue an RFP for a technology firm (ideally BIPOC and/or woman-owned and located in the Western region) to begin rebuilding portions of PAA’s infrastructure to position it as the premier site for public art discovery and engagement. In other good news, Lori and Christina have moved further into talks with Sarah Conley Odenkirk about migrating her Public Art in Private Development Database (policies and documents related to public art in private development) to the Public Art Archive. PAA will be hosting a second walkthrough with Valley Metro, the transportation agency for the Phoenix metro area, for the use of the PAA CMS to manage their growing public art collection. If contracted, this would be the first transportation department to use the PAA CMS—an exciting win for the program! Finally, Lori has been notified that she will be on a panel of presenters along with the Dean of Libraries for RISD, a University Librarian from OCAD University, and the Assistant Dean of Information Services from Harvard University as part of the Power of Consortia presentation moderated by CollectionSpace, PAA’s technology partner.
WESTAF ATTENDS COLORADO LEGISLATIVE ARTS CAUCUS MEETING AND WILL MEET WITH COLORADO STATE REPRESENTATIVE AND APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE CHAIR LESLIE HEROD IN SUPPORT OF EXPANDED FUNDING OF THE COMMUNITY REVITALIZATION GRANT PROGRAM (DH)
CBCA organized a Colorado Legislative Arts Caucus meeting on December 6 with support from Brandeberry McKenna Public Affairs (BBMK) and WESTAF. The Caucus focused on the Community Revitalization Grant Program, a new $65 million grant program being administered by Colorado Creative Industries. A broad coalition of arts advocates thanked representatives and grantees from across the state were able to share information about the impact of their initiatives with legislators. As a follow up, CBCA, BBMK, and WESTAF will be meeting today with Colorado Representative and Appropriations Committee Chair Leslie Herod, a leader in the Caucus and one of the key legislative champions for arts and culture and equity in the Colorado General Assembly to discuss making a request for additional investment in the Community Revitalization Grant Program.
WESTAF AND PARTNERS INVITED TO INTERVIEW FOR STATE OF WASHINGTON CREATIVE ECONOMY STRATEGIC PLAN PROJECT (DH)
WESTAF, CVSuite, Cultural Planning Group, and Randy Engstrom of Third Way Creative LLC have been invited to interview on Tuesday, December 14 for a project that would develop a creative economy strategic plan for the state of Washington over a 24 month period.
WESTAF MODERATES PANEL AT THE ASSOCIATION OF PERFORMING ARTS PROFESSIONALS (APAP) PRE-CONFERENCE (DH)
Deputy Director David Holland moderated a Fieldwide Conversation at the APAP Pre-Conference “The Future of Presenting and Booking: The Role of Convenings in an Altered Landscape.” The session brought together panelists Kevin Stone, president, Florida Professional Presenters Consortium; Loni Boyd, co-chair, Wisconsin Presenters Alliance; Christine Lim, board member, California Presenters; Gail Boyd, president, Gail Boyd P.C. and Gail Boyd Artist Management; and Thia (THIGH-YA) Knowlton, senior vice president, IMG Artists, over 160 attendees, and the APAP team to discuss the ways presenters are approaching programming and the booking cycle as a result of the challenges and opportunities of the last 18 months and ways that convenings and conference can play a role to support the work moving forward. A moderated panel, break out groups, and a collective wisdom share-out considered the challenges to the viability of touring from the audience, public health, health and safety, mental health, programming, contractual, technical and logistical, and financial perspectives. It also considered ways to evolve and innovate the booking conference format in ways that are inclusive, accessible, and impactful.
WALLACE FOUNDATION KICK-OFF MEETING (CG, AK)
This past Friday, Anika and Christian participated in a kickoff meeting with The Wallace Foundation along with our sister RAOs. The three-year program is focused on arts organizations of color with budgets less than $500K and seeks to better understand the connection between community orientation, relevance and resilience. Through this project, WESTAF will receive $2 million per year over three years, with 80 percent re-granted and 20 percent held by WESTAF for administration, technical assistance and any other capacity-building efforts. Here is a (confidential) presentation deck with more information.
WESTAF AND DEVOS INSTITUTE FOR ARTS MANAGEMENT PARTNER ON PROPOSED PARTNERSHIP FOR CULTURAL EQUITY AND RESILIENCE IN THE RURAL WEST (DH/AK/CG)
WESTAF and the DeVos Institute for Arts Management at the University of Maryland have been in dialogue since the summer of 2021 on developing a program that would support arts and culture in rural, remote, and frontier communities throughout the West. The proposed program would deliver a capacity and network-building (and grantmaking) program for 30 diverse, rural or semi-rural organizations in the WESTAF region, using arts, culture, humanities, or arts education as a primary strategy for community cohesion, enrichment, equity, education, health, and/or development. A program concept has been prepared and the group will consult with networks on program design and begin approaching potential philanthropic partners this winter.
WESTAF DELIVERS PRESENTATION ON REGIONAL AND FEDERAL ADVOCACY TRENDS FOR WAAN MEMBER COLORADO BUSINESS COMMITTEE FOR THE ARTS (DH)
On November 30, David delivered a presentation to the Colorado Business Committee for the Arts (CBCA) Advocacy Committee on regional and federal advocacy trends as they plan their annual advocacy program. WESTAF will again manage the lobbying firm BBMK in consultation with CBCA.
WESTAF MEETS WITH STATE ARTS AGENCY EXECUTIVE DIRECTORS AND STAFF TO DISCUSS LEGISLATIVE PRIORITIES AND FY22 STATE ADVOCACY FUNDS ALLOCATIONS (DH)
David has met with state arts agency leaders in Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, and New Mexico to discuss legislative priorities for the upcoming sessions and the allocation of WESTAF State Advocacy Funds in their states. Meetings with Oregon and California are scheduled. The AAP team will meet with each state arts agency in the region as funding applications are submitted by arts advocacy organizations and lobbyists to discuss WESTAF’s support in each state as we move toward developing state-level plans on an annual basis.
WESTAF PRODUCES FIRST PROGRAM REVIEW OF SRI AND AAP PROGRAMS (DH)
For the first time, WESTAF has produced an annual program review, considering survey data and other stakeholder feedback across Social Responsibility and Inclusion and Alliances, Advocacy and Public Policy programs. The review presents six key findings that balance the achievements and positive feedback from stakeholders with recommendations for continued program development and enhancement. Of note, 60% of respondents surveyed across WESTAF’s programs (particularly leadership programs and convenings) were extremely/very satisfied with the program in which they participated. 85% of respondents surveyed were satisfied or very satisfied with the program in which they participated. State arts agency executive directors surveyed rated the quality of WESTAF’s programs and services for states in the region at an 8.8/10 on average. 70% of state arts agency executive directors surveyed rated programs and services for states at a 9/10 or higher.
AAP TEAM PRODUCES FY21 ALLIANCES, ADVOCACY, AND PUBLIC POLICY ACTIVITY REPORT (DH/MH)
The AAP team has produced an FY21 Activity Report that presents the activities and achievements of the division in its collaborative work aligned with the WESTAF strategic plan, particularly the State Arts Agency Services and Advocacy, National Services and Advocacy, and Thought Leadership and Reach workstreams. Of note, WESTAF has supported the 13 states in the region through engagement of state arts agencies, state arts advocacy organizations and lobbyists, to secure over $900 million in relief, recovery, and new program investments for the creative sector from state governments across the region since FY20. This year, the division engaged 65+ organizational partners and collaborators nationwide and globally in program delivery as well as 55 external speakers, half of whom were women and half of whom were BIPOC. In total, there were over 600 registrations for AAP-led convenings and professional development experiences, and rates of satisfaction for these events were high. Qualitative feedback from surveys shows that these programs are viewed as high-value and that they have contributed to the field forming an opinion of WESTAF as a leader and facilitator of dialogue in the field on creative economy, equity, and policy. The division also directly engaged state legislatures, members of Congress, the White House transition team, and the White House this year.
STRATEGIC PLANNING COHORTS (CGREEN)
The equity cohort is finalizing an equity statement for job postings. The use of this statement will begin with the next position the organization hires. They are also working on anti-bias training for all staff. Finally, they are hoping to collaborate with the wellness committee and HR to address mental health needs and possibly provide coaching or therapy for staff.
We made progress on our security goal by consolidating our PCI compliance documents on our internal wiki so that all internal stakeholders have access to our policies. Requirement 6 for PCI compliance states that we develop and maintain secure systems and applications. As part of this requirement, we configured one of our vulnerability tools SumoLogic to collect server logs across our services into one central alerting dashboard. With these dashboards, we can easily monitor for critical security events, such as when users are created or deleted and failed login attempts. SumoLogic allows us to see what is happening within our infrastructure in a single pane of glass.
The MarComm team is busy drafting a project plan for the GO Smart website, working on a marketing plan for a new PAA campaign and is collaborating with the Business Department to create a features and benefits matrix for all five technology products that will help guide our marketing efforts in the upcoming months. We recently sent our Q1 CVSuite newsletter and continue to work on several planning documents for the new westaf.org website. We have extended invitations to staff from every team and department for a collaborative committee for the new site and will hold our kickoff meeting with that group after the New Year.
The MarComm team was on deck this week to support GO Smart during the Technology Association of Grantmakers (TAG) Philanthropy Product Showcase where GO Smart presented among several leading product providers in the philanthropic sector. The team is also gearing up for part two of a collaboration between ZAPP and GO Smart. The final WESTAF Now newsletter of 2021 is currently in the works and will go out before the holidays. (Also keep an eye out for a special holiday message from all of us at WESTAF!) The team is also currently working on a save-the-date and invitation for the Hawai’i board of trustees meeting and will be reviewing the hotel contract for the meeting this week. Work is ramping up for the rebrand as well, with several recommendations coming in for agencies and firms that the team will soon review.