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Meeting Information


2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 

November 10, 2009
4:00 p.m.
25 Van Ness Avenue, Suite 70
San Francisco


The meeting was called to order at 4:12 p.m.

Commissioners Present: Sherri Young, John Calloway, Sherene Melania

Staff Present: Director of Grants San San Wong, Cultural Equity Grants Program Associate Lucy K. Lin, Cultural Equity Grants Program Associate Weston Teruya, Cultural Equity Grants Program Assistant Corinne Matesich


  1. Cultural Equity Grants Program Director's Report
    Ms. Wong reviewed the three motions on the agenda: the Cultural Equity Initiative-Level Two grants ("CEI-L2"), Creative Space grants ("CRSP"), and Individual Artist Commissions ("IAC") for performing arts. She said that at the beginning of the fiscal year, presentations were scheduled to give commissioners a sense of the Cultural Equity Grants Program ("CEG") grantees, and how the program supports their activities.

    Ms. Wong gave an overview of the meeting agenda and described the recommended applicants invited to present. She updated the committee on CEG panelist statistics to date by comparing first, new versus returning panelists; second, gender ratios; and third, racial demographics.

    Commissioner Calloway asked if the panelist racial demographics are reflective of the applicant pool. Ms. Wong clarified that so far in the 2009-2010 grant cycle, there have been fewer Latino applicants, but her goal was to be reflective of the City’s diversity, and reflective of the panelist expertise needed to assess applications.

    Ms. Wong then presented an overview of the Creative Space grant category. She said this year’s applicants were focused on improving existing spaces as all the proposed projects were for capital improvements; there were no planning projects. Accordingly, the review panelists were facility managers, individuals who have led capital campaigns, and technical theater managers. The panelists recommended eleven out of thirteen applications from organizations working in various disciplines. The recommended applicants were located in three supervisorial districts. Ms. Wong showed images of the facilities of the recommended applicants.

    Commissioner Calloway made the following motion:
    Motion to approve recommendations to award eleven grants totaling $150,489 in the 2009-2010 cycle of Creative Space grants to the following organizations, and to authorize the Director of Cultural Affairs to enter into grant agreements with each for the amounts listed:
    Cartoon Art Museum, $9,000
    Chinese Historical Society of America, $20,000
    EXIT Theater, $20,000
    Manilatown Heritage Foundation, $10,000
    Museum of Performance and Design, $10,000
    New Conservatory Theatre Center, $9,744
    Ninth Street Independent Film Center, $4,995
    ODC Theater, $20,000
    SF Camerawork, $20,000
    Z Space Studio, $20,000
    ZACCHO Dance Theatre, $6,750

    The motion passed unanimously.

    Ms. Wong presented the next motion for the Cultural Equity Initiatives-Level Two grant and explained that the Cultural Equity Initiatives ("CEI") grant program was at the center of the legislation that founded CEG, and she outlined the two categories within CEI. This year, the CEI-L2 grant program received nine applications, and the panel recommended funding three. The recommended organizations are located in two districts, and their initiatives are projected to leverage $830,525 in activity. The review panel was made up of diverse individuals. Ms. Wong said this particular panel needed panelists who are mostly executive directors, with strategic planning experience and knowledge of organizations rooted in historically underserved communities. She gave a summary of the three recommended applicants.

    Invited to talk about her organization was Terri Winston from Women’s Audio Mission ("WAM"). Ms. Winston explained that her organization works with women in the recording arts through the technical side of music production. WAM serves 475 Bay Area women a year, and 850-plus individuals worldwide. The program grew out of City College of San Francisco to address a gender and racial imbalance in the industry, as women are severely underrepresented. WAM helps women move toward higher education. Recently, a White House representative from the Office of Social Innovation visited the organization. The organization has experienced tremendous growth in the last five years, and expanded from a one-and-a-half-time staff to two full-time staff. They also completed the construction of their recording facility debt-free. Most of their equipment was donated from manufacturers. The new associate director has substantial industry experience. The organization’s social networking abilities have expanded, as well. The majority of the population served is low-income girls of color. For many of these girls, English is their second language, and they have not pursued other educational avenues. WAM continues to place women in industry positions or internships. They recognized that demand for their services was high, but they did not have the ability to meet the demand. WAM’s CEI-L2 initiative proposes to bring their curriculum online. The organization analyzed the cost-effectiveness of the program, and determined that the solution was to deliver content online. Additionally, through the online programs, men can be served without impacting the on-site women-centered space. The initiative also represents a huge potential income stream for the organization. Currently, the organization’s website garners approximately $50,000 in revenue, from industry sponsors and advertising.

    Commissioner Melania expressed that Women’s Audio Mission is a great program. She inquired about the recruiting process, whether it was through social networking or word-of-mouth.

    Ms. Winston replied that the strategy is focused locally by visiting colleges, and posting at clubs, community music centers, and online through Craigslist. Through the promotion at clubs, the organization receives a lot of hits because of the musicians going to those clubs. She said they were grateful to have received a large amount of press coverage, such as in USA Today. As for social networking, it was something new to Ms. Winston, but she emphasized that the new associate director is adept at employing those tools.

    Commissioner Young asked how the engineering and technical aspects could be taught online. She wanted to know what the model was for successful online courses.

    Ms. Winston responded that she has done a lot of distance learning through City College of San Francisco, but the hands-on learning cannot be replaced by the online learning. She said there are people who teach in that way, but she does not like it. She said that what can be taught online is the theory, and demonstrations of techniques to the students. Then, students are required to come in to the lab to learn the hands-on portion. To earn the certificate, they must have lab experience, but it will save students money and time to cover the theory online. Commissioner Young exclaimed her disbelief, comparing learning techniques online to learning to fly a 747 jet online. Ms. Winston concurred, but said the method she had described can help students get over the intimidation factor.

    Commissioner Calloway said that the organization’s information looks great, but he asked how they serve the artists. He added that Women’s Audio Mission provides artist development and that everyone wants to record, but inquired how WAM does that service, or supports career development, in terms of the craft related to the studio.

    Ms. Winston replied that they have a program specific to artist development, an artist incubator. They bring in booking agents and managers to meet the artists and experience their work. High-profile management companies also spend time in the studio and work on building out the technical components. WAM wants to have sufficient earned income to fund album projects. Another future goal is to have a world music visiting-artist-in-residence program. This online initiative will generate enough earned revenue to do these artist development and residency projects. She said everything hinges on having the musicians.

    Second to present was Mabel Teng from the Chinese Culture Foundation ("CCF"). Ms. Teng played a silent slide show of images showing CCF’s programs. She explained that the organization was founded to preserve and promote Chinese American culture. The primary audience is located in Chinatown, although they reach citywide. One of their primary programs, In Search of Roots, assists youth looking for their familial roots in China. The foundation’s activities include gallery exhibitions, classes, tours, and festivals. They have collaborated with partners, such as Kearny Street Workshop. Next year they will start an artist-in-residence program with jazz musician Jon Jang as the first artist-in-residence. They have begun artist installations in storefronts. The organization has started to bring in sponsorships from banks. Ms. Teng said the Chinese Culture Foundation was founded in 1965, so they want to make sure they can reach out to younger generations, newer waves of immigrants and also to immigrant families. The families living in Chinatown are very low-income, approximately $10,000 below the City’s poverty line. She explained that the CEI-L2 support would allow CCF to become more sustainable. Their plans encompass building up organizational capacity in the areas of communications, marketing, and development over the two years of the CEI-L2 initiative, which would increase their visibility and earned and contributed revenue.

    Commissioner Calloway added that generational change is so important, especially to those who have been in the community for a while. Connecting to new generations is becoming an issue in various centers. He mentioned seeing that challenge in other communities dealing with the question of how to create something to connect to younger generations and having them accept it.

    Ms. Teng said she, the founders, and contributors are older. As a community center, CCF needs to be better with the web, technologies, and reaching out to younger generations. She felt optimistic that they could do that.

    Ms. Wong explained that the Lorraine Hansberry Theatre representatives wanted to be at the CAEG meeting, but could not attend; they plan to be present at the full Commission meeting.

    Commissioner Young asked if recommended applicants are required to present. Ms. Wong confirmed that they are not required to present at the meeting.

    Commissioner Young made the following motion:
    Motion to approve recommendations to award three grants totaling $300,000 in the 2009-2010 cycle of Cultural Equity Initiatives-Level Two grants to the following organizations, and to authorize the Director of Cultural Affairs to enter into grant agreements with each for the amounts listed:
    Chinese Culture Foundation of San Francisco, $100,000
    SEW Productions/Lorraine Hansberry Theatre, $100,000
    Women's Audio Mission, $100,000

    The motion passed unanimously.

    Ms. Wong presented the Individual Artist Commissions [SPR1] grants category. The IAC received a total of 34 applications. Of the total, 38 percent of the applications were in dance, 32 percent in theater, and 30 percent in music. This year’s grants awarded applications in the performing arts and next year will award applications in visual, literary, and media arts. She said the latter is typically a bigger category. With the nineteen recommended applications this year, the project activities are spread over a wide array of city districts.

    Ms. Lin introduced the presentations by five recommended applicants. She showed excerpts of previous artistic work for each applicant and each applicant subsequently talked about their proposed project.

    The first artist to present was Beth Custer, a composer and musician, who has been working in the Bay Area for a few decades. Her ensemble has been creating scores for films. The Pacific Film Archive commissioned the artistic sample the Commission saw. Her project is to compose music for three films of Alexander Hammid, who was an experimental Czech filmmaker in the 1940’s. She will be working with the San Francisco Cinematheque to perform live music with the films. The aim is to tour and release the music on DVD with the film. Ms. Custer said that she runs other ensembles, but that this is her favorite path of experimentation. This grant will give her a leap up in this path.

    Commissioner Calloway commented that the project is great.

    Musician/composer Marcus Shelby described his project as dealing with the civil rights movement, and Martin Luther King, Jr. specifically. He is attempting to create original compositions and arrangements based on freedom songs used during the movement. He explained that because of the importance of the songs, he has been studying them for many years to understand how they have been used in social movements. He will gather source material to re-orchestrate, such as with jazz compositions from the era. Mr. Shelby said the IAC grant would allow him to do extensive research and visit sites key to civil rights music. Recently, he spent time in Chicago studying the work of Martin Luther King, Jr., and will continue to Little Rock, Birmingham and Selma. Mr. Shelby said that he is using his research and musical compositions as a basis to create an educational curriculum.

    Commissioner Young asked what his dissemination plan would be, whether he is playing live or making CDs.

    Mr. Shelby replied that Yerba Buena Gardens has agreed to present the music. He has an ongoing relationship with a school and has experience with other projects that have similarly used his music to launch education projects.

    Commissioner Melania said it was good to hear his process since there are so many layers.

    Mr. Shelby closed by saying that the difficulty of the project lies in re-orchestrating the music because of the politics behind re-creation. Therefore, research is key in order to find the personal histories.

    Christina Black introduced herself as a San Francisco-based artist who has been making work in San Francisco since 1993. She said most dancers tour elsewhere, but she performs local site work. She talked about the IAC grant as very important to support the work of choreographers. For her project, she’ll be working with the California Academy of Sciences and working with intergenerational audiences. Although the topic sounds bleak, she assures the committee that she uses a lot of humor in her work.

    Choreographer Patrick Makuakane reported that he would be presenting his performance over two weekends for Na Lei Hulu I Ka Wekiu’s home season at the Palace of Fine Arts. His project is about the Kumulipo, an epic Hawaiian poem discussing creation of the royal lineage. He plans to work with historian Lucia Tarallo Jensen, because of her ability to strip away the colonial perspective prevalent in published material. He noted that it is difficult to find an indigenous perspective, and Ms. Jensen works to bring that out. He will be collaborating with her on her research. He stated that a strong historical background is important to the piece. To his knowledge, Kumulipo has not been done as a dance production before.

    Commissioner Melania asked when the premiere would be.

    Mr. Makuakane replied that the premiere would be at SOMArts during the Asian Pacific Islander Cultural Center festival.

    The last presenter, Eugenie Chan, read from her work-in-process, which was a script about her great-grandmother. Ms. Chan said her great-grandmother made her way to the United States as an early immigrant and became a brothel madam. Ms. Chan hardly knows anything about her great-grandmother’s life, and has found that there is even less information because she was a woman. Ms. Chan said the IAC grant would support her research in China in order to piece together family histories, and her writing and development of the play. Ms. Chan talked about her interest in dealing with taboo family histories as a subject matter, which could reveal hard, terrible truths but have an impact.

    Commissioner Calloway emphasized that Ms. Chan has a great story. Ms. Wong added that Ms. Chan was trained as a playwright and has been using a formal workshopping process in her development. Commissioner Young inquired whether Ms. Chan had secured a place to perform. Ms. Chan affirmed that she has plans for a staged reading at Cutting Ball Theater, and after that, her aspiration is to have a full production. Commissioner Calloway expressed that Ms. Chan has a classic story that needs to be brought out. He said it was the same with his grandparents and her story touched him. Ms. Chan finished by saying that as a playwright, she knows that grants like the IAC, which support the writing process, are very rare. She stressed that the IAC is a very important grant to have available.

    Commissioner Calloway made the following motion:
    Motion to approve recommendations to award nineteen grants totaling $190,000 in the 2009-2010 cycle of Individual Artist Commissions grants to the following individuals, and to authorize the Director of Cultural Affairs to enter into grant agreements with each for the amounts listed:
    Yannis Adoniou, $10,000
    Christina Black, $10,000
    Lily Cai, $10,000
    Eugenie Chan, $10,000
    Beth Custer, $10,000
    Sean Dorsey, $10,000
    Seth Eisen, $10,000
    Meklit Hadero, $10,000
    Jon Jang, $10,000
    Rhodessa Jones, $10,000
    Sara Kraft, $10,000
    Ledoh, $10,000
    Carla Lucero, $10,000
    Patrick Makuakane, $10,000
    Kirk Read, $10,000
    Amy Seiwert, $10,000
    Marcus Shelby, $10,000
    Melody Takata, $10,000
    Francis Wong, $10,000

    The motion passed unanimously.

    Mr. Cancel reported that the Where Art Lives program was launched that day with a lead artist teaching an assembly of approximately 90 fourth- and fifth-grade students in the first of six schools. Commissioner Young asked if this was the anti-graffiti program. Commissioner Calloway said he would like updates of how the program is doing. He said he worked with the school district so would like to know more about what’s happening. Mr. Cancel explained that the program will last at least six weeks, culminating with murals at each school.

    Commissioner Melania reflected that her group has been in public schools for years. She has a base school, then invites students from other schools. She wondered if that model was possible for the SFAC as well. Mr. Cancel said that the Department of Public Works wanted to target schools in areas most impacted by graffiti. If there were more funding, the program could expand.

    Commissioner Melania followed that her group has always invited surrounding schools since they could only be at one base school in an area. Mr. Cancel said he did not think that structure would work for "Where Art Lives," given the timing and classes.

    Ms. Wong pointed out that Commissioner Melania’s idea made sense since the graffiti is not only made by students in a specific school, but often by other students in the area.

  2. Adjournment
    As there was no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 5:23 p.m.

12/2/09 RT