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Meeting Information


2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 

September 8, 2009
4:00 p.m.
25 Van Ness Avenue, Suite 70
San Francisco


The meeting was called to order at 4:07 p.m.

Commissioners Present: Maya Draisin, Ninive Calegari, Sherri Young, John Calloway

Staff Present: Community Arts and Education Program Director Judy Nemzoff, Director of Grants San San Wong, Community Arts and Education Program Associate Robynn Takayama, Cultural Equity Grants Program Associate Lucy K. Lin, Cultural Equity Grants Program Associate Weston Teruya


  1. Cultural Equity Grants Program Director's Report
    Ms. Wong presented an update on the Cultural Equity Grants Program ("CEG"). She said the grants cycle has begun with three deadlines this past week: the Cultural Equity Initiatives Level Two, Creative Space, and Individual Artist Commissions for performing arts. The panels for these grants categories are scheduled for October 2009.

    The next grants deadlines will be for the Arts & Communities: Innovative Partnerships on September 25 and the Cultural Equity Initiatives Level One on December 2. For each grants category, staff holds application workshops, consultations, and face-to-face meetings with grantseekers. CEG and CAE staff met to debrief about the Programs in the Community and Neighborhood Festivals grants categories. For both grants categories, award notification letters and contracts have been sent out. The grants were delayed because of the City’s budgeting approval process and notification from Grants for the Arts.

    Commissioner Calloway commented that most festivals are beginning to take place around this time and asked if the funds were for 2009-2010. Ms. Wong confirmed that the funds being released were indeed for the 2009-2010 grants cycle.

    Ms. Wong continued with an update on the Creative Capacity Fund. She said the City of San Jose has become an additional partner. The program now totals four partners contributing to the initiative. With these partners, the program covers seven counties in the San Francisco Bay Area. In August, the program received 17 applications and staff anticipates that the Professional Development Program will run out of funds before the end of the fiscal year.

    In addition, Cultural Equity Grants is continuing to co-present knowledge-building sessions. On September 9, a session about on-line communications will include Doug McLennan from, giving a presentation about the relationship between new media and changing demographics -- how to prioritize information, getting the attention of the audience and reinventing the online community. Five representatives from local websites and blogs have been invited to respond to Mr. McLennan’s presentation. This session will be free and open to the public.

    Commissioner Draisin inquired about how the California Cultural Data Project ("CCDP") was progressing and if applicants were still finding it a challenge. Ms. Wong replied that since the launch last year, most of CEG’s applicants have been participating successfully. Pew Charitable Trusts and CEG continue to assist new applicants in registration and data submission. Ms. Wong said that now, after a year, funders can begin looking at impact numbers generated from the CCDP. Organizations will be provided with assistance to also review and use the impact reports.

    Commissioner Draisin asked for an update on the Native American Arts & Cultural Traditions ("NAACT") grants for this year. Ms. Wong explained that CEG will bring on Jaime Cortez again to coordinate the grants category. Mr. Cortez served as a past San Francisco Foundation Fellow, and is a writer and visual artist. Ms. Wong is looking to convene grantees in order to gather data on how this grants program has worked for them, including: how it has impacted their artistic work, cultural practice, and organizational development; barriers and positive aspects to applying for grants; whether they will apply to other CEG grant categories in the future; what needs still exist in the Native communities; and what the infrastructure and capacity is now in the Native communities. Ms. Wong mentioned that she and Ms. Nemzoff spoke about meeting with leaders of the steering committee for the new American Indian Cultural Center (Joan Benoit and Randy Burns, for example) to discuss the status of their planning.

    Ms. Nemzoff added that the information would be important to share and use to engage all the stakeholders, including Arts Commissioners, staff, and Cultural Center directors. The successes and challenges should be addressed to inform the different parties.

    Commissioner Draisin inquired about the timeline for the study commissioned. Ms. Wong explained that bringing on Mr. Cortez would not only give CEG staff more support, but he will also help facilitate that conversation and grants cycle. She added that there is no longer a liaison for the American Indian community in the Mayor’s Office, and that Ron Rowell, another important leader, had left The San Francisco Foundation as part of their restructuring. So, a critical discussion is about finding the next leadership that can step up. Ms. Nemzoff reminded the committee that this year is the end of the three-year grants period for NAACT.

    Ms. Wong continued that hiring for the vacant CEG Program Associate position is underway. Approximately 100 applications have already been received. The outreach for this position has been narrowly focused. She hopes to identify the candidate this month and for the individual to begin by mid-October. Because of the economy, she noted, there is a flood of applications, with the major challenge being the fit of applicants with the skills and experiences requirements of the position, CEG purpose and vision, and existing staff.

    Ms. Wong closed by reporting that Sylvia Sherman was hired on a contract basis to assist with the Arts & Communities Innovative Partnerships grants management. Commissioner Calloway made the following motion:
    Motion to approve the following individuals as grants application review panelists for Cultural Equity Grants:
    Dale Albright, Membership Director, Theatre Bay Area
    Sidney Chen, Artistic Administrator, Kronos Quartet
    Rita Felciano, dance critic, San Francisco Bay Guardian
    Paul Flores, performance artist and youth development specialist
    Joe Goode, Founder and Director, Joe Goode Performance Group
    Joanna Haigood, Artistic Director, ZACCHO Dance Theatre
    Tony Kelly, founding member, Thick Description
    Eduardo Pineda, visual artist and educator
    Jordan Simmons, Artistic Director, East Bay Center for the Performing Arts
    Linda Tillery, founder, Cultural Heritage Choir
    Moriah Ulinskas, Director of Next Gen Programs, Bay Area Video Coalition
    Luis Valverde, choreographer, Peruvian Dance Company (PERUDANCE)

    The motion passed unanimously.

  2. Community Arts & Education Director's Report
    Director Cancel said he received four audited statements from the Bayview Opera House for fiscal years ending 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2008. He found no irregularities, although he noted some worrisome financial trends. In 2006 and 2007 the organization had deficits which wiped out their cash reserve.

    Commissioner Calegari asked whether the audit was planned or was done in response to something. Director Cancel said they were a requirement that were long overdue. Ms. Nemzoff said that a financial audit is required by the grant agreement. Ms. Takayama pointed out that there is a distinction between a systems audit done by the City Controller’s office and these organizational financial audits prepared by a certified public accountant.

    Ms. Nemzoff made a presentation on the history of the Cultural Centers to prepare the CAEG Committee for the review of the Cultural Centers’ Management and Programming Plans, which would be presented at the full Commission meeting.

    Commissioner Draisin asked if the centers were set up to be neighborhood-based or culturally-based. Ms. Nemzoff said that when the buildings were purchased by the City in the late 1970s, they were intended to be neighborhood-based, with a cultural center in every neighborhood. Commissioner Calloway asked if the identity of the Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts ("MCCLA") changed, and he noted that the demographics of the Mission are changing. Executive Director Jennie Rodriguez said MCCLA’s audience is 45 percent Latino and 45 percent Anglo. She noted that the board made the change from "Mission Cultural Center" to include the words "Latino Arts."

    Ms. Takayama said that when she started at SFAC, she was taught to refer to the "Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts" and to the Bayview Opera House, Ruth Williams Memorial Theatre.

    Commissioner Calloway asked, "As neighborhoods change, should the Cultural Centers change?" Ms. Nemzoff reminded Commissioners that the Hotel Tax Fund ("HTF") legislation only says that the Arts Commission shall "assure that these cultural centers remain open and accessible and remain vital contributors to the cultural life of the City."

    Commissioner Young noted that the Centers want long-term leases, but the leadership and stability seem in flux. Ms. Nemzoff said that the buildings had always been underfunded. She said that the Centers came into being because the community advocated for them. She thought that the Cultural Center program had had a lack of clarity since its inception and that the language of the legislation didn’t make it easier to understand. She also noted that while the HTF funding to the Centers increased in 1997-1998, the Arts Commission still only receives approximately $70,000 annually to maintain all four buildings.

    Ms. Rodriguez said that there had been some discussion of selling the buildings to the boards of directors of the nonprofits for $1, but that the idea was rejected as property values went up.

    Director of SOMArts Cultural Center Lex Leifheit said that the origins of SOMArts were neighborhood-based. Now the board must ask, "How do we serve the Filipinos when so many have moved out of SOMA?" Ms. Leifheit continued that another identity for SOMArts is as an alternative arts space. But then the board must ask, "What does it mean to be an alternative gallery space in San Francisco now? The landscape has changed a lot." Ms. Leifheit said SOMArts serves over 60 different nonprofits each year and her goal is to professionalize SOMArts’s rental program and define the relationships more clearly to benefit the renters and SOMArts.

    Commissioner Draisin said that the Centers have a sense of entitlement as they assume they’re going to get funding every year. She also said she is beginning to wonder if the virtual centers are still the relevant communities to be receiving the funds. Director of the African American Art and Culture Complex,London Breed said her Center is used by many different communities, not just African Americans. Many groups like to use AAACC’s theater. She added that staff from AAACC visit MCCLA for salsa lessons, so she is certain that all the Centers serve multiple ethnic groups.

    Ms. Nemzoff said staff is helping the Centers address issues of access, quality and infrastructure, which is what the centers all address in their MPPs. She thought that Commissioners had turned a blind eye to underperforming tenants in the past, and she’s happy to see a Committee that isn’t doing that any more.

    Commissioner Calegari asked Ms. Nemzoff what she thought would be good benchmarks before considering a long-term lease. Ms. Nemzoff said all Centers should focus on expanding programming and building infrastructure, which should include a solid board of directors, financial planning that indicates diverse revenue streams, and a plan to support facility infrastructure not covered by the City.

    Ms. Nemzoff gave a brief report on the Management and Program Plans that would go before the full Commission. This was for information purposes only as the Committee would not be voting. Because there was no August committee meeting, the MPP’s had to go to Full Commission. Due to Sunshine restrictions, there wasn’t enough time to vote on the MPPs and have the vote approved two days later.

    The African American Arts and Culture Complex’s MPP provided key areas of development and infrastructure for FY 2009-2010. Priority will be given to expand programming with an effort to increase use of the theater, develop a fundraising and communication plan, diversify revenue and continue to renovate the building. Ms. Nemzoff asked the executive director to define the artistic relationship to the tenant organizations and to articulate the understanding of the value they bring to the building. Staff recommendation is to approve funding for 2009-2010.

    SOMArts Cultural Center’s priorities include: increase financial management; improve accountability and financial systems; diversify funding, marketing and communications; and create an assessment tool to determine successes. Increased and diverse use of the theater and galleries is also a priority. Staff recommendation is to approve funding for FY 2009-2010.

    Asian Pacific Islander Cultural Center is in a transition year with new leadership and a changing mission and board of directors. The MPP identifies key areas and goals including increased year-round programming, diversification of programming at other Cultural Centers and in diverse neighborhoods, increased collaborative programming, and consistent and measurable technical services for the broader API community. Ms. Nemzoff has asked that building and strengthening the staff and board of directors also be addressed. Staff recommendation is to approve funding for FY 2009-2010.

  3. WritersCorps Report
    There was no report.

  4. Arts Education Report
    There was no report.

  5. Cultural Center Report
    There was no report.

  6. Buildings and Grounds Superintendent Report
    There was no report.

    Director Cancel announced that a portion of these funds have been restored, so the Building and Grounds Superintendent's position will be funded through the end of the fiscal year, and the design and construction documents will be completed.

  7. New Business
    There was no new business.

  8. Adjournment
    As there was no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 5:40 p.m.

10/2/09 RT