WESTAF Update Notes #104 | July 2019
This is the 104th in a continuing series of updates about the work of WESTAF.
Update on Alaska State Council on the Arts
Many of you are aware of the situation in Alaska. For those who have not been tracking the issue, on Friday, June 28, Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy cut $444 million from Alaska’s state operating budget, slashing services in addition to the cuts already made by the Alaska Legislature—an action that effectively eliminated the Alaska State Council on the Arts. Absent of state sales or income tax, funding for public services in Alaska is derived from oil and gas industry revenue that is directed into the Alaska Permanent Fund—a $44 billion state savings account. Some of this fund is returned annually to Alaska residents in the form of Permanent Fund Dividends (PFDs)—around $3K per year, per Alaskan, although the exact amount is still one of many unresolved legislative issues as of Friday, July 12, when the legislature ended its efforts to overturn the governor’s vetos. To fully grasp the implications this situation has on the fate of the Alaska State Council on the Arts, view NASAA President and CEO Pam Breaux’s thorough and authoritative summary of the situation.
New WESTAF Executive Director Western Tour Continues
Over the last couple of months, Executive Director Christian Gaines has continued his regional tour. In June, Gaines visited Phoenix, Arizona to meet with WESTAF Trustee Teniqua Broughton and several other Arizonans, including Shelley Cohn, former WESTAF chair; Jackie Alling, chief philanthropy officer, Arizona Community Foundation; Mitch Menchaca, executive director, City of Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture; Cindy Ornstein, executive director, Mesa Arts Center; Michelle Mac Lennan, general manager, Chandler Center for the Arts; Eileen May, managing director, Tempe Center for the Arts; and Arizona Commission on the Arts Executive Director Jaime Dempsey and her staff. After Phoenix, Gaines headed to Reno, where he met with Tony Manfredi, executive director of the Nevada Arts Council; Tracey Oliver, executive director of the Sierra Arts Foundation; Nettie Oliverio, chair of the Reno Little Theater; Beth MacMillan, executive director of the successful annual Reno art event Artown; and David Walker and Ann Wolfe of the Nevada Museum of Art.
Following his Reno trip and WESTAF’s May board meeting in Bozeman, Gaines headed to Pocatello, Idaho for the Idaho Commission on the Arts Commission Meeting, where he led a presentation and conversation about WESTAF’s work, met the commissioners, and was present at the last meeting presided over by outgoing Chair Kay Hardy. Following his visit to Idaho, Gaines headed to California for the Creative Placemaking Leadership Summit in Los Angeles, and then on to a visit with WESTAF trustee Nikiko Masumoto at the Masumoto Family Farm near Fresno. He rounded out the California trip in Calaveras County for a California Arts Council (CAC) meeting, where he gave a presentation to CAC council members, and then on to Sacramento, where he met with CAC Executive Director Anne Bown-Crawford and members of her staff, as well as Californians for the Arts/California Arts Advocates Executive Director Julie Baker. In July, Gaines will travel to Honolulu to present to the Hawai‘i State Foundation on Culture and the Arts’ board and to attend meetings with FESTPAC leadership. In August, he will be joining WESTAF Trustee Karen Hanan in Yakima and Tieton, Washington to present at an ArtsWA commissioners’ meeting and to participate on a panel with regional, state, and federal arts leaders.
WESTAF Strategic Plan Officially Launched
On May 30, 2019, WESTAF’s 10-year vision and strategic plan officially launched! The WESTAF team formally kicked off the plan in a staff-wide, two-day training session that included group development and leadership coaching with Val Atkin, who facilitated some helpful Enneagram work and team-building exercises. The group was then split into three cohorts (equity, business, and communications) that will now focus on developing scoping docs to guide their work over the next several months.
Recent SAAPAD Meeting in Denver
June 3-4, WESTAF convened 20+ performing arts directors and heads of presenting and booking consortia from the region for its annual State Arts Agency Performing Art Directors (SAAPAD) meeting. The group kicked things off with a tour and conversation with leadership and staff at Cleo Parker Robinson Dance, one of Denver’s cultural hubs and a renowned dance company rooted in the Black/African American community. Caitlin Strokosch, executive director of the National Performance Network (NPN) shared ways in which the organization is operationalizing equity through its artist and peer networks, convenings, and conferences. Oregon Emerging Leaders of Color (ELC) 2015 alum Candace Kita, cultural strategy director at the Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon (APANO), also engaged the group in an exercise examining how power plays out in organizations’ missions. A second state arts agency professional development session will take place in Denver July 25-26. At this session, attendees will take a deeper dive into the legal implications for nonprofits who receive support from the cannabis industry; the arts in rural communities; the intersection of art, politics, and community organizing and a collaborative grantmaking program that fosters cross-sector work through the arts; and peer-led roundtable discussions on relevant, group-identified topics.
ZAPP Announces Mobile-Responsive Artist Side
Zapplication.org recently announced a mobile-responsive artist side. With a planned release in late summer, the enhancement will allow artists to take ZAPP with them on the go. Artists will be able to easily apply to events, check their application statuses, and even buy booths from their phone or tablet. In other ZAPP news, the team recently completed the switch to a new payment processor, Braintree, an e-commerce solution acquired by PayPal in 2013. Braintree specializes in mobile and web payment systems, and integrating Braintree means that ZAPP can now collect payments from a variety of methods, including Apple Pay and Venmo, in addition to more traditional methods such as PayPal and credit card. This integration also allows artists to store payment options for a quicker checkout experience.