To view graphic version of this page, refresh this page (F5)

Skip to page body

Meeting Information


2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 

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


The meeting was called to order at 4:05 p.m.

Commissioners Present: Sherri Young, John Calloway, Nínive Calegari

Staff Present: Director of Grants San San Wong, Cultural Equity Grants Program Associate Lucy K. Lin, Cultural Equity Grants Program Associate Beatrice L. Thomas, Cultural Equity Grants Program Assistant Corinne Matesich, Community Arts and Education Program Director Judy Nemzoff, and Community Arts and Education Program Associate Robynn Takayama


  1. Cultural Equity Grants Program Director's Report
    Ms. Wong opened the meeting with an introduction of the Cultural Equity Grants Program’s new hire, Program Associate Beatrice L. Thomas. Ms. Thomas gave a brief introduction, stating that she hailed from Austin, Texas where she received her M.F.A from the University of Texas and had been working for the City of Austin as Program Manager of a citywide interdisciplinary arts festival.

    Ms. Wong discussed the first motion concerning the Arts and Communities: Innovative Partnerships Initiative ("ACIP") 2009-2010 grants: to award 17 grants to individual artists and arts organizations totaling $333,750. Funding supported approximately 70 percent of the proposals received. Ms. Wong reminded the committee that these grants, born out of a desire to see the arts more deeply penetrate communities and to address the changing demographics of San Francisco, were developed through a series of over 20 community meetings and consultations with multiple arts partnering programs and foundations. Unique in that they call for innovative collaborations between artists, arts organizations, or immigrant service organizations and a community partner, ACIP grants are disseminated through two grant categories: Exploration and Realization. Ms. Wong explained that supporting planning and implementation phases of partnership development and the creative process can foster richer community engagement. Representatives from Out of Site, Asian Women’s Shelter, and Dance Brigade, and individual artist Mary Jean Robertson gave brief presentations on their proposed projects. Cultural Equity Grants staff showed a sampling of audio-visual clips to accompany each presentation.

    Executive Director Beth Rubenstein of Out of Site, which is partnering with the Excelsior Action Group, was asked by Commissioner Calloway how the students received school credit and how students found out about the program. Ms. Rubenstein indicated that it was, in fact, very difficult, and that few schools allow for credit to be given. As for recruitment, she explained that they have a robust recruitment effort focused on actively visiting schools and check-in and follow-up with teachers, counselors, and peer-to-peer and youth advisory boards.

    Commissioner Calegari inquired about the organization’s financial health this fiscal year, and whether they work with the Geneva Car Barn project. Ms. Rubenstein responded that they are successfully rebounding from staff furloughs, have raised half of their fund-raising goals and are preparing to hire a deputy director. She said that Out of Site works closely with the Geneva Car Barn project, and have no plans for a satellite space there. She felt that given the nature of their programming and capacity, they operate best with one home base.

    Beckie Masaki, executive director of the Asian Women’s Shelter, which is partnering with Luna Kids Dance, spoke about Moving Parents and Children Together ("M-PACT"), a series of relationship-enhancing dance classes. These classes are intended to provide a way for mothers and children to strengthen or rebuild relationships. Commissioner Young asked about the program’s target demographic, to which Ms. Masaki responded that their mission is to help abused women and their children, who can be of any age, so it’s critical that their programming is flexible and adaptable.

    The remaining presentations from Mary Jean Robertson and Krissy Keefer, executive/artistic director of Dance Brigade, were received positively by all the commissioners. Ms. Robertson, who is working with the Ohlone Nation, the original Native Americans of San Francisco, noted that beyond working with native organizations, she is also partnering with environmental and faith-based organizations. This grant will support Ohlone leaders and dancers in conducting ceremonies at four sites in San Francisco. Ms. Keefer stated that the grant received by Dance Brigade enables the organization to continue a long history of community-based anti-war activism.

    Commissioner Calloway made the following motion:
    Motion to approve recommendations to award seventeen grants totaling $333,750 in the 2009-2010 cycle of Arts and Communities: Innovative Partnerships Grants to the following individuals and organizations, and to authorize the Director of Cultural Affairs to enter into grant agreements with each for the amounts listed:
    Asian Women’s Shelter, $25,000
    Chinese Culture Foundation of San Francisco, $10,000
    Chinese Progressive Association, $10,000
    Croatian American Cultural Center, $25,000
    Dance Brigade, $20,000
    Deanne Morizono Meyers, $22,500
    Fifth Stream Music, $10,000
    Flyaway Productions, $22,500
    GK Callahan, $20,000
    Intersection for the Arts, $18,750
    Kid Serve Youth Murals, $25,000
    Kulintang Arts Inc., $22,500
    Mary Jean Robertson, $25,000
    Out of Site: Center for Arts Education, $10,000
    Queer Cultural Center, $25,000
    Raissa Simpson, $22,500
    Ruby’s Clay Studio and Gallery, $20,000
    The motion passed unanimously.

    Commissioner Young made the following motion:
    Motion to approve the following individuals as grant application review panelists for Cultural Equity Initiatives Level One:
    Julie Fry, program officer, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation
    Renee Heider, executive director, Destiny Arts Center
    Roko Kawai, dancer, choreographer and teacher
    An Lu, program specialist for Arts Council Silicon Valley
    Wendy Levy, director of creative programming, Bay Area Video Action Coalition
    Rebeka Rodriguez, photographer, curator and arts administrator
    Jen Soriano, communications strategist, musician and nonprofit consultant
    Shiree Teng, independent consultant
    The motion passed unanimously.

    Ms. Wong updated the commissioners on the Cultural Capacity Fund ("CCF"), a collaborative funding initiative, specifically the capacity-building component designed to provide scholarships to individual artists and arts administrators for professional development. Since the pilot began six months ago, 61 grants have been awarded. Ms. Wong reported the upcoming deadlines: Native Grants deadline of February 3, 2010; and the OPG deadline on January 29, 2010, with applications workshops beginning soon.

    Ms. Wong informed the Committee that the City’s midyear target budget cuts for the Arts Commission of over $80,000 are being entirely borne by Cultural Equity Grants. Commissioner Calegari asked when the next round of budgets cuts would take place. Ms Wong said that the City is facing a deficit of over $600 million, adding that CEG may be looking at another half million dollars in cuts. The commissioners and Ms. Wong discussed the potential impact of the budget cuts. Commissioner Young expressed concern about the frequency of cuts to the CEG budget and would like to see some visuals addressing the history of cuts to the Arts Commission, specifically to CEG.

  2. Community Arts and Education Program Director's Report
    Ms. Nemzoff announced that Tyra Fennell had been hired as the new arts education manager.

    Ms. Nemzoff gave an update on the arts education program. She said the San Francisco Unified School District anticipated an $80 million deficit over two years. Ms. Nemzoff said this deficit would impact SFAC’s partners, like the Arts Providers Alliance of San Francisco, as professional development for classroom teachers would probably be cut. Ms. Nemzoff hoped the arts education program could provide programming to fill the need.

    Ms. Nemzoff announced that the anti-graffiti curriculum program, Where Art Lives, had launched and is being taught by Cameron Moberg, an urban artist. She said staff was still raising funds to pay for the onsite mural.

    Ms. Nemzoff provided an update on WritersCorps. She said that the federal stimulus funds afforded two teachers, but staff still needed to raise funds for the end-of-the-year site publications.

    Ms. Nemzoff said staff from the arts education program and the WritersCorps program would present to the committee in January.

    Ms. Nemzoff said staff was working on growing the Art in Storefronts program into Chinatown in the spring with funding from the Office of Economic and Workforce Development. The guidelines would be adapted to include submissions by traditional artists from Chinatown.

  3. Cultural Center Report
    Ms. Nemzoff gave an overview of facility funding for the Cultural Centers. She reminded commissioners that Building and Grounds Superintendent Tom Petersen now worked only 80 percent time for SFAC instead of full-time. She said there was very little maintenance and repair money, however $400,000 had been allocated to Bayview Opera House (“BVOH”) for interior renovations from the Capital Improvements budget of the Mayor’s office. This is part of the four-year commitment Mayor Newsom made to provide support for renovation of the Opera House. SFAC did not receive stimulus funds for capital improvements, but staff was putting together fundraising packets for each Center. Ms. Nemzoff will schedule a presentation by Building and Grounds Superintendent Tom Petersen for the February committee meeting.

    The discussion shifted to the Cultural Centers’ final reports. Ms. Nemzoff reviewed the required Cultural Center reporting and schedule. She asked commissioners for feedback to create a better reporting mechanism. She said she worried that the Cultural Centers might not be presenting their story and their accomplishments as best as they could.

    Commissioner Draisin said that she regretted referring to a perception of entitlement by the Cultural Centers. What she wanted to know was what forms of oversight the committee should provide. She said that positive change needed to be credited, but large packets of final reports are difficult to cull through and she asked what the commissioners should focus on in the reports to provide proper oversight.

    Ms. Nemzoff asked if her letter summarizing her perception of the final reports was helpful. Commissioner Draisin said she heard that producing that document held up the mailing of the packets. She said she would rather receive the packet as quickly as possible and receive the staff summary later.

    Commissioners directed their questions to Ms. Barbara Ockel from the Bayview Opera House. Commissioner Calegari asked about the BVOH board. Ms. Ockel said six people joined the board, many of whom live and work in the Bayview. Starting in January, the new president will be Jarrold Joseph. Mr. Joseph has been on board for a year, lives in Bayview, and is a co-founder of ART94124. The new treasurer and interim secretary will be Kristine Johnson. She moved to San Francisco a few years ago and works in software and finance. Commissioner Young said the existing board members should offer leadership so that a new board member doesn’t hold two leadership positions. Commissioner Calegari congratulated the board on recruiting so many new members. Ms. Nemzoff congratulated the board for being in a position where Vernon Grigg could step down from the board presidency after leading the organization through a major transition. Commissioner Young asked how many active members were on the board. Ms. Ockel said ten, with three applications pending. Commissioner Young reiterated that a healthy board would not require a new board member to hold two executive positions.

    Ms. London Breed, executive director of the African American Art and Culture Complex (“AAACC”) said the organization was healthy and that the renovations had attracted new organizations wanting to rent the space. She said that she tried to encourage the board to be more engaged, but they feel like the organization is successful and don’t realize there is still a role for them to play.

    Ms. Breed said that CEG grantees shouldn’t be compared to the Cultural Centers. She felt the comparison pits organizations against each other rather than builds support for the cultural community. Ms. Breed suggested that CEG and Grants for the Arts recipients should be encouraged to use the Cultural Center facilities.

    Commissioner Calegari asked which workshops from last year the center directors found helpful. Pam Peniston, executive director of the Queer Cultural Center, said the workshops were helpful, especially on board development and nonprofit best practices. She said she wanted more time after the presentations to ask questions. Vinay Patel, executive director of the Asian Pacific Islander Cultural Center, contacted Jan Masaoka after her presentation for follow-up questions, and signed up for Ms. Masaoka’s online publication, Blue Avocado, to pass on to the board. Ms. Nemzoff said the workshops were designed to strengthen the tenant organizations.

    Ms. Peniston recognized that the onslaught of paper from the final reports becomes a blur for the commissioners. Ms. Breed asked if visuals would be a better presentation of their accomplishments. Commissioner Draisin said she would like snapshots of active Facebook pages, but also doesn’t want to create more work for the center directors. She suggested the presentations could be short like the CEG presentations.

    Ms. Takayama reminded the commissioners that the Cultural Centers would submit their California Data Project report and audit for the previous fiscal year for review by the commissioners in March. This would standardize reporting across the cultural landscape.

    Commissioner Draisin said SFAC has a complex relationship with the Centers as both funder and landlord. Ms. Nemzoff said that there were major facility infrastructure problems at all the buildings, which is frustrating because the SFAC can’t do the work required as a landlord due to lack of funding.

    Lex Leifheit, executive director of SOMArts, said the committee had mandated SOMArts to do board development and she thought that this request had slowly created a cultural shift in the organization. She said that now that the board was more engaged it created more work for the staff.

    Ms. Breed said she responded to the low attendance at the required Community Support Board meetings. She appointed a chairperson to increase attendance and there are now monthly meetings with a goal to reengage the community.

    Ms. Leifheit said that the funds SOMArts receives help provide resources to the cultural community like discounted rentals, technical services, and even program funds. She asked the commissioners how that information could be better quantified.

    Jennie Rodriguez, executive director of the Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts (“MCCLA”), said the Centers are a source of economic development. They employ staff and contractors and develop a talented workforce. Commissioner Calegari said the multigenerational nature of MCCLA, which supports rich mentorships, might be difficult to capture in a report.

    Commissioner Draisin said that the Centers’ impact and value are better conveyed through a presentation than paper reporting. She said she wants to know what the Centers accomplished and how many people the Centers impacted, not just audience numbers. Commissioner Calloway said that what’s more important to him than the data in the report is how the Centers are serving those who see art as something expendable.

    Ms. Breed asked the commissioners to make a commitment to visit the Centers at least once a year. Commissioner Young suggested the commissioners adopt a center and report back to the committee.

    Ms. Nemzoff reminded commissioners that in February they would review the Centers’ midyear report that includes legislated requirements, and the Centers would present on their programming. Commissioner Draisin said she wanted to hear about the challenges and what kind of support the organizations need.

    Ms. Rodriguez asked what role the Centers would play in SFAC’s strategic planning process.

  4. Adjournment
    As there was no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 5:55 p.m.

12/30/09 RT