July 11, 2022
Greetings WESTAF community:
While our gathering in Spokane, WA, from June 27 – 30 is now in the rear view mirror, I am still reflecting on so many dynamic sessions and pivotal moments from our time together. Our meetings surfaced deep insights and revealed complex challenges in our collective work at the busy intersection of arts, equity, community and accountability. Some of these are detailed below, with more follow-ups to come in the next weeks and months. Giant thanks to our big-hearted and hospitable hosts, to all who made the trip to Washington, and to those who joined us virtually. It’s a big commitment, and you gave it your all, during what has often turned out to be a chaotic and uncertain time. My belief is that being in fellowship with those who share our commitment to this work strengthens and re-energizes our resolve to create the world in which we want to live together. Gathering in our western places to make authentic human connections is a core tenet of WESTAF and that will always be the case. Let’s jump into this biweekly now:
WELCOME TO THIS BIWEEKLY, EXECUTIVE DIRECTORS OF WESTAF STATE ARTS AGENCIES! (CG)
An important change with this biweekly. At our recent meeting, WESTAF trustees considered how to continue to offer a steady flow of information, transparency and accountability to our stakeholders, among the most critical being our western region arts agency executive directors. As a part of this ongoing process, we’ve now added all of our SAA executive directors to the Biweekly Recap. This is a periodic update—previously for WESTAF trustees, staff and committee members—on all WESTAF progress and activities from every corner of the organization. Welcome, EDs! Please feel free to scan the biweekly every fortnight, and then ping me or any WESTAFer if you’d like more information on what you learn or to get more involved in any relevant work. Additionally, we’re also going to offer a virtual attendance option for all of our western EDs to optionally audit WESTAF’s annual board meeting, next scheduled for October 27 in 2022. More details to come on that soon! Much gratitude goes to the EDs and trustees who advocated for these changes, and watch for more to come!
WESTAF HOLDS SECOND EQUITY GATHERING IN WASHINGTON STATE WITH ELC ALUMNI (AK/AM/JEC)
Bringing together artists, administrators and funders from the state of Washington, the ELC Alumni-led Equity Gathering focused on liberatory grantmaking and practices. The theme was Bring Down the Dams—Restoring Flow to a Vibrant Arts Ecosystem in Washington State. After a Tuesday evening social hour with state arts agency executive directors and members of the WESTAF trustees and staff, participants gathered to connect and prepare for the Wednesday panel and facilitated groups. Some thoughts and comments from the gathering wrap-up included:
- “One thing that ties us all together is the desire to take care, that much is clear. But to what end? What is the end game we seek? We convened you to explore the practice of liberatory grantmaking and discuss how we could advance/scale/push those practices. Now I believe we should have gathered you to discuss our purpose. I think we agree that we are working toward changes in our bookshelves, classrooms, galleries, screens, stages, and studios. But do we all agree that we are working toward change that transcends these spaces? And if so, is arts and culture the vehicle… or is it the destination?”
- “[…] not all causes are movements. This question of whether the arts is a social movement is one of the main things I’ll be thinking about in the months ahead. Because if so, it demands that we think differently about what we do and what we ask for.”
- “We need a culture shift in the arts that disrupts institutions and institutional thinking that seeks to consolidate power and instead distribute it across the state to encourage self-determination, especially for individual artists and groups without a 501 c3. These folks are working paycheck-to-paycheck and need equitable support such as multiyear funding. We also need to be in solidarity with other movements, notably workers’ rights, and prioritize issues such as basic income, housing justice, and tax fairness. Because workers’ rights are artists rights. And philanthropy can play a key role in policy change.”
- “WESTAF has a critical role to play in making change through communications, connections, and convenings. Through their networks, they can provide connections for key partnerships, amplify creative stories, and bring legitimacy to this work. There is a particular emphasis for WESTAF to facilitate a public policy dialogue on land use and the arts as well as provide certified professional development in nontraditional creative fields.”
WESTAF RESCHEDULES VIRTUAL RURAL GATHERING (AM)
Due to significant changes in our primary presenters and in an effort to increase awareness of the Rural Gathering, the event has been postponed and is rescheduled for August 10, 2022 at 12 p.m. MDT. The gathering will include a presentation of WESTAF’s Arts + the Rural West Virtual Workshop Session Report and presentations from local rural arts organizations and stakeholders. Those interested in attending the Virtual Rural Gathering, please RSVP here.
WESTAF TOURWEST PANELS TO TAKE PLACE JULY 14 – 15, 2022 (AM/SVB)
2022 TourWest grant review panels will take place on July 14th and 15th, 2022. This panel has selected potential recipients of our 2022 TourWest Regional Touring Grant and will further deliberate their results of 199 applications for this grant cycle. This is the first grant cycle after recent changes to the TourWest program, which included increased award amounts to $5,000 (or 50% of matching funds) and to one application per organization.
WESTAF CONTRACTS RUBY LOPEZ HARPER AS SRI CONSULTANT (AK)
Arts leader and advocate Ruby Lopez Harper will work as a consultant with the SRI team from July – September 2022. The goal of this work is to support the further development and crystallization of WESTAF’s approach to equity, access, inclusion and social justice work – ensuring that equitable and inclusive practices are at the core of all that we do across the organization and in support of the field. In particular, the consultant will provide coaching and support exploration and alignment inquiry with SRI, EIC and EqCo during their regularly scheduled meetings during the contract period. Conversations may lead towards expanding understanding of implementation and animation of the stated commitments, identifying potential growth, evolution or expansion of said commitments and/or explore or examine specific elements in theme and topic as it aligns internally/externally to the work of the teams listed.
The consultant will identify and support the development of useful tools to aid the field and support constituent work in their own equity journey. This may include data and benchmarking, in addition to gathering existing resources. The consultant will also make recommendations around communication and invitation to the field to build awareness of said tools and their use.
WESTAF COSPONSORS NASAA’S JUNE PEOPLE OF COLOR AFFINITY GROUP (JEC)
With attention to the significant number of controversial Supreme Court rulings within a short timespan and the ongoing pressures of a global pandemic, the NASAA People of Color Affinity Group (PoCAG) Advisors curated a session centered around holistic wellness and power dynamics in the workplace. Plans for a hybrid meeting during NASAA Assembly 2022 were announced, which tentatively include engagement with NASAA’s DEI mentorship program.
WESTAF SUPPORTS ELC ALUMNI DELBERT ANDERSON BY ATTENDING D’DAT’S PAINTED MOUNTAINS TOUR (JEC)
Sponsored by South Arts’ Jazz Road Creative Residencies Grant Program, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, Mellon Foundation, and First Peoples Fund, the Painted Mountains Tour marks the first arts partnership in U.S. history between the federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and Indigenous tribes. With a performance date of July 4, the same day the Declaration of Independence was passed by the Continental Congress, D’DAT delivered intellectually explorative and expanding musicianship. Jade Elyssa met with the artists and representatives from BLM to ideate a standing artist in residency program housed within BLM, listen to learnings centering Indigenous cultural preservation, and identify avenues to support the well-being of people and the planet for a more creative, equitable and sustainable future.
WESTAF’S BIPOC ARTIST GRANT PROGRAM DESIGN TEAM INTENSIVE UNDERWAY (JEC)
With the first of seven intensive sessions underway, this BIPOC Artist Grant Design Team process has begun. By the end of July, the design team will have contextualized their process within in-depth research of what has been done, co-visioned future possibilities, explored avenues to create empowering inquiry, and grappled with how to accurately record key metrics that convey the depth of impact the arts have in the region. Within the Philosophy working group, most, if not all, members have an active artistic practice.
WESTAF’S NATIONAL LEADERS OF COLOR PILOT FELLOWSHIP PREPARING FOR PROMOTION (JEC)
WESTAF is partnering with alumni Alexandria Jimenez to revamp the Arts Lead website in preparation for application promotion in the coming weeks. The core planning team is on track to finalize the curriculum within the context of a national format.
CALIFORNIANS FOR THE ARTS AND WESTAF TO PARTNER WITH THE OFFICE OF U.S. REPRESENTATIVE BARBARA LEE ON ARTS JUSTICE WEBINAR IN LATE JULY (CC/DH)
Congresswoman Barbara Lee of California introduced Advancing Equity Through the Arts and Humanities Act in May 2022. To date, Representative Lee’s office has circulated a dear colleague letter in the House of Representatives to solicit bill cosponsors and continues to seek endorsements from organizations across the country. Californians for the Arts has partnered with WESTAF to organize a webinar in late July to brief the public on this bill, provide context for the policy landscape, and garner further support.
WESTAF INVITED TO SUBMIT A 2023 ARTS FUTURES LOI BY THE FORD FOUNDATION FOR THE PARTNERSHIP FOR CULTURAL EQUITY AND RESILIENCE IN THE RURAL WEST (CG/AK/DH)
After meeting with Ford Foundation Creativity and Free Expression program officers Rocío Aranda-Alvarado and Lane Harwell alongside the DeVos Institute in June, WESTAF was invited to submit a screening form to be considered for the Foundation’s 2023 Arts Futures program. Arts Futures aims to provide seed funding to a small cohort of artist-led organizations and projects who are in this moment of massive destabilization doing work to center justice, communal care, and a commitment to eradicating racism, anti-Blackness, ableism, and audism, in the arts and culture field. WESTAF has been invited to submit a full LOI due on 7/15 after submitting a screening form.
WESTAF INVITED TO FACILITATE STATE OF WASHINGTON ARTS4ALL PLANNING PROCESS (DH)
The organizing committee of Arts4All Coalition, a collective impact initiative working for the full inclusion of arts learning across Washington State’s PreK-12 public education system, has invited WESTAF to consider facilitating its strategic planning process, which will begin in September 2022 and extend into the fall of 2023. David recently met with the group, which includes Inspire Washington, ArtsWA, the Washington Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, and ArtsEd Washington, to discuss the opportunity and next steps.
WESTAF CO-LEADS INFRASTRUCTURE, PLACEMAKING, AND PLACEKEEPING SESSION WITH DESIGN FIRM ROOTOFTWO FOR GIA CULTURAL POLICY ACTION LAB (DH)
On July 6, Cezanne Charles of design firm rootoftwo and David delivered a session for the Grantmakers in the Arts Cultural Policy Public Learning Series, Infrastructure, Placemaking & Placekeeping. The webinar considered cultural facilities and districts and creative placemaking strategies as public policy tools, examining how these approaches can be used more equitably to advance digital access, public safety, housing, and informal social infrastructures that facilitate community power and wellness. A recording of the session is available on the GIA website, along with earlier sessions in the series.
WESTAF PROVISIONALLY AWARDED GRANT TO MANAGE PERFORMING ARTS DISCOVERY FOR A SECOND YEAR (JEC/DH)
The National Endowment for the Arts has recommended $200,000 to WESTAF for management of the Performing Arts Discovery Program, which we collaborated with partners nationally in redesigning with an equity focus last year.
WESTAF DEPUTY DIRECTOR INVITED TO SERVE ON THE ADVISORY BOARD OF THE CENTER FOR CULTURAL AFFAIRS AT THE O’NEILL SCHOOL OF PUBLIC AND ENVIRONMENTAL AFFAIRS AT INDIANA UNIVERSITY (DH)
David has been invited to serve on the Advisory Board of the Center for Cultural Affairs at Indiana University, home to the NEA-funded Arts, Entrepreneurship, and Innovation Lab that conducts experimental and quasi-experimental research on the intersections of the three primary terms in its name. Current advisory board members include Andrew Recinos, President, Tessitura Network and Laura Zabel, Executive Director, Springboard for the Arts.
PACIFIC JURISDICTION LEADERSHIP MEETS WESTAF ED FORUM (AAP)
Last week, WESTAF officially welcomed Executive Directors from PJs to our annual Executive Director Forum. The expansion of the ED Teleconference network led to deeper learning and relationship development across all 13 states and three Pacific Jurisdictions, including WESTAF’s understanding of regional needs. To better enhance service delivery, a survey was sent to PJ leaders and internal staff meetings across departments and services have been happening to better define and connect resources to the newest WESTAF members.
WESTAF DEEPENS WORKING RELATIONS WITH PACIFIC JURISDICTION THROUGH JOINT PRESS RELEASE WITH SUPPORT FROM NASAA AND NEA (AAP)
WESTAF organized a press release for the joint announcement with Guam CAHA, American Samoa (ASCACH), and Northern Mariana Island’s CCAC, featuring joint statements by NASAA President Pam Breaux and NEA’s Dr. Rosario Jackson. Setting up the Pacific Jurisdictions as partners have been steadily growing as onboarding and weaving of art agency services has continued across WESTAF. This week we look to set a biweekly standing meeting with all PJs, with open invitations to sister organizations within the 13 state network, service partners, and WESTAF executive leadership team.
NAPALI INSTITUTE TRAINING AND WESTAF COLLABORATION LOCK IN JULY 2023 FOR PACIFIC EMERGING LEADERS PROGRAM (AAP)
NAPALI, the leadership institute partner investment for Pacific emerging leaders in the region, has confirmed July 2023 training program. The NAPALI Board is expected to send an updated written plan and fellowship trainee profile to WESTAF leadership by the end of July. The leadership training will lead to more co-facilitated plans to support the upcoming national Pacific festival, FestPAC, in 2024 with overlapping advocacy work with the State of Hawaii and their respective networks.
NEXT STEPS FOR WESTAF INVESTMENT IN PACIFIC JURISDICTIONS (MMPH)
Similar to the state strategy plan developed through WESTAF’s State Advocacy Funds, AAP and Pacific Jurisdiction Initiative have been working with each individual Pacific art agency to develop plans for investment funding through PJ regional strategies. After feedback from leadership teams of all represented organizations (outlined in PJ MOUs), final invoices will be submitted to WESTAF for the $25,000 investment funding per Pacific island and issued to the agencies July 2022.
GENERAL BUSINESS (CV)
The business team continues to work on FY23 budget preparation by aggregating and discussing our technical product backlogs and finalizing FY23 goals and objectives. Meanwhile, this month we will prepare our Q3 Quarterly Business Recap (QBR) and conduct OKR progress meetings to discuss what we achieved in Q3 and what we need to work on in Q4. We also will conduct our Q3 insights 1:1 discussions where we review and discuss progress with individual goals and job responsibilities.
The CaFE team is meeting next week for our OKR Q3 Recap & Q4 Kick-Off. We also finished CaFE’s OKRs for FY23, which the LRT is currently reviewing. CaFE added 13 new clients in June that include the Society of American Graphic Artists (SAGA) as well as the Alabama Center for the Arts Foundation. Currently, we have 247 opportunities listed. Be sure to check out our June’s blog post, Meet five Artists who are Recharging the Arts.
CVSuite reported and resolved a bug last week that made the CVSuite site entirely inaccessible. Upon login, users were directed to the region selection page, saw incorrect text renderings and were unable to navigate anywhere else on the site. The bug was reported going into a holiday weekend and the team had to plan communications and fixes around a possibly extended timeline. Fortunately, the bug was resolved quickly and the error was due to our developer Zing making some backend adjustments. On the client side, CVSuite met with CVSuite users from the Idaho Arts Commission account who expressed confusion in understanding the data. We were able to refer them to our DataEd series, and their problems were resolved!
GO SMART (JG)
Jessica conducted a positive second demo with Collier County Arts Council (housed in the Naples, Marco Island, Everglades Convention and Visitors Bureau) after submitting a simple RFQ for a $2,000 – $4,500 contract. The preview enhancement was released and several clients are already excited about the new capabilities. BRI is fixing one small bug affecting about 20% of our sites whose names contain an uppercase letter in their URL, thus redirecting the user, incorrectly, to the login page of the applicant portal. We will send out mass communications to all users, alerting them of the new feature once the bug is resolved. Jessica and the business and tech teams are starting preliminary work on a revamp of the NEA/FDR features that will affect how our clients who are passthrough funders for the National Endowment of the Arts use GO Smart to generate their Final Descriptive Reports.
PUBLIC ART ARCHIVE (LG)
The PAA, business, and tech team members involved with the Bilberrry development have submitted initial feedback on the early design stages for the new front end of PAA. The current design boards can be reviewed here and here. Next steps include a review of the mobile designs. The PAA team met with WESTAF BOT member Megan Miller to discuss the process for cataloging the Burning Man art archive in PAA. This includes artworks that have been installed at Burning Man since 1992. Some of the projects no longer exist, while others have found new homes outside of the Black Rock Desert. The PAA team is moving toward the final stages of the Anniversary Map project as artist Kara Fellows completes the draft of the map icons (public artworks). We are excited to share this project widely after the final artwork is complete.
Tim, Natalie, and Mareike have spent a bit of time working on our Jury Buddy system, trying to set up an environment similar to how our clients use the system to project their juries. In the last jury season, we had several clients notify us about issues, most of which initially we couldn’t recreate. While we did find some issues with the software, we believe that most of the problems our clients ran into this past year were from incorrectly setting up the software. We are now going to focus on revamping our help materials to better explain some of the processes needed to run JuryBuddy!
Paul and Christina were happy to share the approaches to our web services with the board in beautiful Spokane. This month’s goal is to get staff access to our business analytics tool and some dashboards. During the board presentation, we showed ZAPP demographic information sourced from the data. This is the tip of the iceberg on what we may learn from our treasure trove of data. In addition, we began our search for a DevOps system administrator. Budget and OKR planning are underway for Q4 and FY23. In 3 quarters, we have made good progress on our initiatives this year, such as moving the finance server, starting a data lake, PCI compliance, enforcing MFA on critical accounts, and securing our work devices. However, there are some initiatives that need further research and time, such as developing a long-term plan for vendor vs. internal resources, risk management, evaluating other security compliance standards, and QA automation processes. During Q4 we will try to move those initiatives forward and set us for success in the new fiscal year.
The team is busy preparing Q3 progress reports for all SaaS products and pulling Google Analytics metrics for the month of June. We are excited to start brainstorming on two social media strategies for the Public Art Archive’s Anniversary Map Remix Project and the Creative Vitality Summit, with hopes to increase participation, engagement, and awareness for both the project and convening. In addition, we are compiling all activity from our two email marketing campaigns that launched at the end of Q3 for GO Smart and CaFÉ.
After being on deck to support the June board of trustees meeting last week, the team is catching up on other projects, including finalizing the latest blog post for GO Smart, continuing work around the CaFÉ blog strategy and content audit, and working on updating OKR progress for Q3. Additionally, the team will begin the creation of a process to update contact lists and maintain lists for local, regional and national contacts. We were also very excited to share out the press release announcing WESTAF’s partnership with the Pacific Jurisdictions!
Amy attended the board meeting last week in Spokane. Amy and Becky continue to refine the FY23 budget structure, which will include more detail than in prior years. Our hope is that this will provide more transparency for budget managers through FY23. Becca and Amy met to discuss the operations & HR budget proposal for FY23. We are expecting some increases in subscriptions and event costs. Planning continues in many areas as we enter into the final quarter of the fiscal year.
HUMAN RESOURCES (RD)
Becca is working through payroll policy and budget updates for FY23, along with a good chunk of the Gen Ops budget. She is also working with Moreton on pricing for medical/dental benefits for FY23. The SysAdmin position was posted in late June and we have received several qualified candidates. Paul N. is putting together a plan for the interview process, which will begin in the next two weeks.
COHORT UPDATES (CGREEN)
Justine attended the ED Forum on June 27 and presented the first iteration of the policy cohort’s Regional Partner Handbook to the state and jurisdictional art agency executive directors in attendance. Following the presentation, attendees shared valuable feedback and suggestions for the project moving forward. The policy cohort will meet on July 13 to discuss this feedback and talk about next steps.
FUTURE MEETINGS (CGREEN)
After a successful Summer Board of Trustees Meeting and ED Forum, the focus now turns to the September WAAN Gathering and Executive Committee Meeting in Wyoming, and the Annual Meeting in Denver. Cameron is investigating alternative itineraries for this September’s meetings to maximize in-person participation. For the Annual Meeting, Cameron and Leah continue looking at venues and hotels in the Downtown Denver area.
BOARD MANAGEMENT SOFTWARE LAUNCH AND END USER TRAININGS (CGREEN)
We will slowly start rolling out our new Board Management Software, OnBoard, in July and August. This software will start being fully used in September. Trustees and Leadership received emails introducing them to the new software, and will receive invites soon to create user accounts on the platform. We will host three training sessions to get users and creators up to speed on OnBoard. Cameron will reach out to trustees and leadership individually to let them know what training they should attend.
OnBoard Training Dates:
Friday, July 22 at 11 a.m. MT
Leadership and Executive Committee
Friday, August 5 at 11 a.m. MT
End Users Training Option 1
Friday, August 12 at 9 a.m. MT
End Users Training Option 2