WESTAF Now Newsletter | April 2021

By May 7, 2021January 30th, 2023No Comments
WESTAF Now April 2021


Emerging Leaders of Color Logo

2021 Emerging Leaders of Color Program Virtual Convening

Since 2010, WESTAF’s Emerging Leaders of Color program has convened nearly 100 racially and ethnically diverse leaders working in the arts in the western United States for high-level leadership seminars that have impacted the field of arts administration. Due to the pandemic and necessary modifications, the 2021 ELC program was moved to an online format. The virtual convening took place March 18-19 and 22-24, 2021, with 17 participants representing all 13 states in the region, our largest ever cohort. The program, led by faculty Salvador Acevedo, Margie Johnson Reese, Madalena Salazar, and David Holland, included sessions on U.S. cultural policy, professional communication through an equity lens, self-care, strategic foresight, and cultural equity. Guest speakers included Dr. Nancy Maryboy, president and founder of the Indigenous Education Institute and Mexican performance artist and pioneer in indigenous education and science who has partnered with the National Science Foundation and NASA for decades; and painter Ana Teresa Fernández, known for her socially conscious conceptual work that in recent years has connected with the census and social justice movements.

ALLIANCES, ADVOCACY, & POLICY                  

Common Thread DesignELC Alumna Ashanti McGee Curates Exhibition with Support from the WESTAF Regional Arts Resilience Fund

Ashanti McGee (ELC ’14, NV) recently curated A Common Thread, a group exhibition featuring textile art by nine womxn artists of color from Las Vegas and other communities across the United States. Presented by the Marjorie Barrick Museum of Art and the Las Vegas Womxn of Color Arts Festival, the exhibition showcases the radical possibilities of traditional forms. The exhibition features work by Adriana Chavez, Ashley Hairston Doughty, Yacine Tilala Fall, Noelle Garcia, Isar King, Tiffany Lin, Desire Moheb-Zandi, Lyssa Park, and Ailene Pasco. The exhibition also features a poem by Southern Nevadan poet, Erica Vital-Lazare, and text written by Jocelyn Jackson, founder of JUSTUS Kitchen and co-founder of People’s Kitchen Collective. Drawing on traditions and perspectives from a variety of backgrounds, these artists are ensuring that the expanding field of textile arts includes progressive forms of personal expression, cultural critique, and community resilience. The exhibition runs from April 2, 2021 until July 2, 2021. Support for this exhibition is provided by the WESTAF Regional Arts Resilience Fund, a relief grant developed in partnership with The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support arts organizations in the 13-state western region during the COVID-19 pandemic. Additional programs are funded in part with support from Nevada Humanities and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Located on the campus of the most racially diverse university in the United States, the Marjorie Barrick Museum strives to create a nourishing environment for those who continue to be neglected by contemporary art museums, including BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ groups.

Recordings and Briefs for the 2021 Virtual Arts Leadership and Advocacy Seminar Now Available

WESTAF’s 2021 (virtual!) Arts Leadership and Advocacy Seminar (ALAS) took place February 24 and 25, 2021. The event was reformatted to feature four virtual panel discussions around topics including developments in federal arts policy, western state engagement in federal arts policy, effective engagement of members of Congress, and a national reimagining of the field. View the list of panelists, Seminar briefs, and recordings here.

Put Creative Workers to Work LogoWESTAF Engages Regional Networks and Washington on Put Creative Workers to Work Policy Proposal

WESTAF is currently working to amplify the Put Creative Workers to Work policy proposals—which has evolved to include a $20 billion package—by engaging the White House and our regional association of chambers of commerce, the Western Association of Chamber Executives. We are urging those in our network to contact your members of Congress, the White House, and/or your state and local chambers to engage with these proposals by using the Put Creative Workers to Work proposal letter and Chamber of Commerce engagement. WESTAF has also invited over 200 organizations (including 170 local arts agencies) across the region to submit information about creative workforce projects happening across the country as part of a national data collection effort being mounted by the Getting Creative Workers Working Coalition (of which we are a part) and to endorse the policy proposal Put Creative Workers to Work.

WESTAF Shares Insights on the Creative Economy, Arts Advocacy, and Equitable Grantmaking at Regional and National Convenings

On April 8, WESTAF Director of Impact and Public Policy David Holland served as a panelist for an advocacy briefing session at the National Arts Action Summit on creative economy policy, including ways to advance the for-profit and nonprofit creative economy through federal legislation with a special focus on intentionally underserved communities. Other panelists included U.S. Representative Chellie Pingree (D-ME); U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI); Narric Rome, Americans for the Arts; Craig Nutt, CERF+; Carolyn Ryan, Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce; Frank Cullen, U.S. Chamber of Commerce; Jonathan Glus, San Diego Arts & Culture Commission; and Amy Schwartzman, National Coalition for Arts’ Preparedness and Emergency Response (NCAPER). On April 8, he joined the NASAA Grants Directors/Managers group for a peer session discussing WESTAF’s Regional Arts Resilience Fund and how we have adapted our grant programs to better serve BIPOC and rural communities. On March 17, David and Megan Wagner of Brandeberry McKenna Public Affairs (the WESTAF-contracted lobbyist in Colorado) presented on state and federal arts advocacy at Colorado Creative Industries’ 2021 Creative Districts Convening, discussing developments in the past and current Colorado General Assembly sessions, creative districts policymaking nationally during the pandemic, and national arts advocacy and arts policy developments like Save Our Stages, Put Creative Workers to Work, and Arts Workers Unite. On March 11, David also participated in a session of the NASAA 2021 Learning Series, along with Professor Doug Noonan of Indiana University; George Tzougros, executive director of Wisconsin Arts Board; and Karen Mittleman, executive director of the Vermont Arts Council for a discussion of the findings of the Arts and Economy Recovery research project and strategies for state arts agencies to connect the creative sector to state economic recovery efforts. The recording of the session has now been released and is available on the NASAA website and YouTube

STATE ARTS AGENCY NEWS                             

$50 Million in Relief Funding in California Brings Total State Arts and Culture Relief Funds in the West to More than $135 Million 

Collectively, with the voice of California’s arts community and lobbying from California Arts Advocates, California Association of Museums, and CalNonprofits for state relief funding specifically for arts and culture, SB 87 was signed into law, approving $50 million in funding for nonprofit cultural institutions (double the amount proposed by the Governor) on Feb 23. Round 4 of the California Small Business COVID-19 Relief Grant Program, the Arts & Cultural Program, supports California eligible cultural institutions defined as registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit entities. WAAN member Californians for the Arts was awarded a contract to provide technical assistance in support of this vital program, and the California Arts Council advised colleagues in state government on the program’s design. Also of note is Californians for the Arts/California Arts Advocates coverage in the New York Times that highlights their collaboration with Otis College of Design on creative economy advocacy.


CNMI CARES Relief Fund for Artists and Organizations to Close on April 30, 2021

In the most recent round of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) CARES Relief Fund for Artists and Organizations, 12 artists were awarded grants between $2,000 and $5,000 to support the recovery of their artistic practice from projects and opportunities cancelled by the pandemic. A total of $49,000 was disbursed to artists in this round. In the prior rounds, we awarded $50,000 to three organizations: 500 Sails, a nonprofit dedicated to restoring maritime traditions in the Mariana Islands, Mount Carmel School, noted for its 60-year-old performing arts program, and Isla Montessori School. In total, we have awarded 86% of available funds and will close the program with the upcoming April cycle.

WESTAF TECHNOLOGY                                      

Creative Vitality Suite is preparing to launch it’s third Creative Vitality List project: the 6 Can’t-Miss Public Art Stops of the Southwest. CVSuite has partnered with sister WESTAF project Public Art Archive to leverage the two powerful databases to highlight a southwestern public art road trip and the creative economies of these unique destinations. Keep your eyes peeled for the list, launching at the end of April.

This We Believe: A Citywide Mural Project from Mural Arts Philadelphia

The Public Art Archive is pleased to launch the  online exhibition of Mural Arts Philadelphia’s This We Believe: A Citywide Mural Project.  The virtual experience details the story of the project, from inception to its current state, originally developed “to create a mural that would represent Philadelphia as the complex city that it is.” The online platform guides visitors through This We Believe’s evolution by presenting three distinct questions: Can one mural tell the story of a whole city? What does meaningful collaboration look like? What is the legacy of This We Believe?

Art of Recovery: An Initiative of Santa Monica Cultural Affairs

The Public Art Archive also launched the online exhibition of Santa Monica Cultural Affairs’ Art of Recovery. This growing virtual exhibition explores the numerous projects designed to “connect artists to other sectors, by initiating and supporting connections between artists and business improvement districts, neighborhood groups and other entities.”

Early this summer, CaFÉ will be revealing a brand new look for its administration site. In addition to a complete restyling of the colors and layout, updates will include a more streamlined application builder and an improved jury administration page. In February, we interviewed Ed Dixon of Edward A. Dixon Gallery for a customer spotlight in the CaFÉ blog. Check out the blog post to learn about his gallery, current and upcoming projects, and why he chose CaFÉ to manage his call for entry process.

ZAPP recently released an exciting new feature: Artists are now able to add comments, tag, and filter their applications on the My ZAPPlications page (the artist landing page) for improved organization. This is especially important now as many artists are trying to keep track of which shows have rolled over their booth fees or have been cancelled or postponed. The ZAPP team has already received a lot of positive feedback from artists related to this enhancement.

WESTAF Community NEWS                              

Anika Kwinana WESTAF Welcomes New Director of Social Responsibility and Inclusion Anika Kwinana

Anika Kwinana joined WESTAF April 5th as director of social responsibility and inclusion. In this role, she informs and develops a range of equity-centered learning experiences that connect and inspire leaders and communities to build a more inclusive arts and culture sector. She joins WESTAF from her position as manager of national education initiatives at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts where she ensured that arts professionals were equipped with relevant professional learning and support as they sought to provide equitable access to the arts among public school students. Kwinana has worked with a number of arts organizations as a stage manager, producer, gallery coordinator, and subscriptions sales associate. She also served as assistant director of national college fairs, programs and services for the National Association for College Admission Counselling where she piloted and scaled STEM college and career fairs reaching over 20,000 attendees annually. Kwinana is chair of the Arlington County Commission for the Arts and co-founder of Arlington for Justice; chair of the Arts Administrators of Color Network and served as co-chair of the organization’s 2020 convening; and is a part of artEquity’s BIPOC Leadership Circle, working with other arts leaders from across the nation to develop social justice leadership models. Kwinana earned her bachelor’s degree in political science from Howard University and a master’s degree in arts management from George Mason University, where her capstone focused on the need for diversity in arts organizational leadership. She also holds a master’s degree in public anthropology from American University and a postgraduate degree in management from the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa. Welcome to the WESTAF family, Anika!

Christina VillaChristina Villa Assumes New Leadership Role as WESTAF Director of Business

Christina Villa has recently assumed a new WESTAF leadership role: director of business. In this new capacity, Christina leads the strategic and operational direction of the business department which includes all five of WESTAF’s SaaS products. Along with GO Smart, Creative Vitality Suite and Public Art Archive, Christina continues her strong connection to ZAPP and CaFE, and remains closely involved in the strategic, long-term direction of WESTAF’s whole SaaS/web services division. She brings to this expanded role a sharp business acumen and an unwavering commitment to customer satisfaction, retention, and attraction. Congratulations, Christina!

Moana Palelei HoChingELC Alumna Moana Palelei HoChing joins WESTAF as Senior Policy Associate

Moana Palelei HoChing (ELC 18, UT) joined WESTAF on April 1 as WESTAF’s senior policy associate, a consulting role that manages key public policy and advocacy programs and provides counsel to the director of impact and public policy. HoChing contributes to WESTAF’s research and policy communications and works with its grassroots advocacy network, engaging with a range of arts and cultural policy issues through an equity lens. She currently serves as vice chair of the Zoo, Arts, and Park (ZAP) Program Tier 1 Board, where she assists in directing $14.3 million of Utah taxpayer dollars to 22 arts and cultural nonprofits, as well as three zoos throughout the Salt Lake Valley. HoChing previously served as the assistant director of educational outreach of the Honoring Nations program at the Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development. She is a multidisciplinary artist, technologist, and fierce advocate for Indigenous affairs and has consulted on projects in Kenya; Waikato, Aotearoa; New Orleans; New York; Las Vegas; Denver; and throughout Indian Country and has her own production company, Crazyhorse Productions. HoChing is a proud alumna of the National Pacific American Leadership Institute (NAPALI), Harvard University’s Administrative Fellowship Program (AFP), and WESTAF’s Emerging Leaders of Color (ELC) program. 

And…Exciting Internal Moves at WESTAF

WESTAF staff are making moves and moving up, with several internal transitions occurring in March and April. Mareike Bergen has been promoted to ZAPP manager, where she’ll be overseeing day-to-day ZAPP operations and guiding ZAPP into its next, post-COVID-19 recovery phase…Natalie Villa will assume an expanded role under the new title of business project manager, where she’ll be working on large business projects, improving business workflows, standardizing SaaS processes, and guiding efforts at the intersection of business and technology for WESTAF’s web services…Brandon Jay has been promoted to the position of ZAPP operations coordinator…Tess Emslie has taken on a full-time position as a customer support coordinator… Lani Morris has been promoted to grants and accessibility manager and Natalie Scherlong will fully transition from strategic plan and executive and board coordinator to communications coordinator in May. Congratulations to all our talented staff!

CONNECT WITH US                                             

13 Western StatesThe Western States Arts Federation (WESTAF) is a nonprofit arts service organization dedicated to strengthening the financial, organizational, and policy infrastructure of  the arts in the West (Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawai’i, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming). WESTAF assists  state arts agencies, arts organizations, and artists in their quest to serve diverse audiences, enrich the lives of local communities, and provide access to the arts for all. Through innovative programming, advocacy, research, technology, and grantmaking, WESTAF encourages the creative advancement and preservation of the arts regionally and through a national network of customers and alliances.

WESTAF | www.westaf.org