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Meeting Information


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June 9, 2009
4:00 p.m.
25 Van Ness Avenue, Suite 70
San Francisco


The meeting was called to order at 4:00 p.m.

Commissioners Present: Sherene Melania, John Calloway, Nínive Calegari, Sherri Young

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

  1. Cultural Equity Grants Program Director's Report
    Ms. Wong presented updates on the Cultural Equity Grants Program ("CEG"). She said the report at the July meeting will be both a year-in-review and program plans moving forward, particularly in anticipation of the budget cuts.

    Commissioner Calegari asked for confirmation of the funds that were added back into the Arts Commission budget. Ms. Wong replied that Mr. Cancel might talk more about that topic. She continued with news of current Program Associate Ebony McKinney's resignation. Ms. McKinney is working her last full-time week and will be moving to a part-time schedule into July. Ms. Wong has begun the hiring process at an accelerated rate as the new grants cycle is starting.

    Commissioner Calegari inquired about the qualifications for the program associate position. Ms. Wong answered with a few qualifications including familiarity with Cultural Equity Grants Program's constituency of artists, small to mid-size organizations, and organizations rooted in historically underserved communities; and knowledge of QuickBooks and Microsoft Excel. Some responsibilities of the position involve panel coordination, workshop presentation, grants management and assisting with financial management of the program.

    Ms. Takayama noted that the QuickBooks system had been modified to work with the City's system. Ms. Wong affirmed that the new incumbent would still need to know QuickBooks and have a sense of finance, numbers, and what budgeting means.

    Ms. Wong next introduced the National Endowment for the Arts ("NEA") American Recovery and Reinvestment Act ("ARRA"). The NEA received $50 million from the ARRA for the purpose of job preservation, of which $1 million was used for administration, 60% for existing core programs, and the remainder distributed by formula to the state arts agencies. For the existing core programs, eligibility was restricted to NEA grantees who have received grants in last four to five years.

    SFAC/CEG applied for the sub-granting funds to be managed by local arts agencies in the amount of $250,000.

    In considering the NEA priorities, support to underserved communities and to individual artists, Ms. Wong shaped an initiative that targets the existing CEG Cultural Equity Initiatives ("CEI") constituency. Additionally, because the ARRA funds are one-time, the potential of receiving CEI support would create the opportunity for an organization to really invest in capacity building. The grant amount is up to $35,000, and the possible pool of applicants will be set by the CEI eligibility guidelines and by the NEA initiative demands.

    Ms. Wong explained that there will potentially be only 5-7 grantees, which is a small number. To mitigate this, CEG will be adding dynamic adaptability, strategic planning forums that will be open to the greater San Francisco arts communities.

    Ms. Wong stated that this grant initiative will have a fast turnaround. Working with California Arts Council, eight other California local arts agencies have met and decided to use a common application so applicants can "recycle" the information. Mr. Cancel added that applicants can only receive NEA Recovery Act funds from one source. Commissioner Calegari appreciated the deliberation to spread the money out. Ms. Wong explained that if applicants are eligible for the California Arts Council, they will also be eligible for Western States Arts Federation ("WESTAF") funds if the jobs focus on multiculturalism, next generation leadership, and new media and technology. Therefore an applicant may have multiple opportunities to receive funding.

    Ms. Wong said the reporting requirements to the federal government could be extensive but expressed hope that through the "trickle-down" process, the reporting by grantees will not be that extensive.

    She returned to the topic of the forums and gave the names of sample speakers, such as Richard Evans and Michael Kaiser. She envisions a representation of speakers from both arts as well as non-arts fields. She has spoken with colleagues in Seattle, Sacramento and Los Angeles, as well as other California cities, and they are excited about being partners to create a multi-city speaking tour.

    Mr. Cancel gave an update on budget issues. He said the Mayor presented a budget where most City agencies received a 25% reduction, but SFAC was only cut 4.7%. CEG was slated for a $532,000 cut to grants and the cultural centers for $500,000, which has now been reduced. The cultural centers will not receive a cut, and Cultural Equity will receive a cut of $228,000. The next step for the budget is review by the Board of Supervisors Budget Committee. Mr. Cancel informed the Committee of an upcoming meeting with some organizational grantees of Cultural Equity to educate them on the agency budget situation. He hoped that from the meeting, grantees would reach out to Supervisors, discussing the importance of maintaining a strong cultural community, which will be needed in San Francisco when the economy gets better and visitors begin coming back to the City.

    Ms. Wong distributed handouts of different studies on the impact of the recession, including: one from Puget Sound by Helicon Collaborative; a national study by National Alliance for Media Arts and Culture; a national study of traditional, folk and immigrant arts by the Fund for Folk Culture and one of the CEG grantees, the Alliance for California Traditional Arts; and a joint study by Theatre Bay Area and the national service organization, Theatre Communications Group, which has a Bay Area focus. These studies help funders to understand the impact of the recession and how we might productively respond.

  2. Community Arts & Education Director's Report
    Before approving proposed funding for the 2009-2010 fiscal year Programs in the Community grantees, Program Associate Robynn Takayama explained that three grantees whose organizations have been recommended for funding would make presentations to the Commissioners.

    Ms. Takayama introduced Daniel Stangl, a staff person at A Home Within, which is recommended for funding for their Fostering Art program. He introduced Claudia Mendez, a client with the program. Examples of the photographs from the program were shown.

    Ms. Mendez said that this program for youth in the foster care system offers a place where youth with similar challenges can come together and talk in a supportive space while gaining photography skills and presenting their own vision of themselves.

    Director Cancel asked if photograph is the primary medium. Mr. Stangl said they focus on photography and post-production, but they hope to expand into audio and digital video.

    Commissioner Calegari asked how many youth are involved. Mr. Stangl said there are 40 students in the beginner and advanced workshops.

    Ms. Mendez said that she is an intern and a youth advocate. Her job is to educate the community about foster youth. She said that many youth like photography, but don't often have the opportunity to follow that hobby. She has been in the program for a year.

    Mr. Stangl said that one student has been involved for all six years of the program, and added that some students have gone on to employment for their photography skills.

    Director Cancel asked if the program is all digital. Mr. Stangl responded that the program focuses primary on digital photography, though there are projects working with Polaroids.

    Ms. Takayama showed examples of the artwork created in the Art with Elders program, which was recommended for funding. Ms. Takayama introduced Brent Nettle, the executive director at Eldergivers. Mr. Nettle said the program was started in 1991 and now serves 400 elder artists in 33 long-term care facilities in five Bay Area counties. Eldergivers puts great effort into recruiting artists who are practicing and exhibiting and have an affinity for the elderly, are good teachers, and can adapt to the abilities of their students. He explained that the weekly classes are two hours long and have an emphasis on skills building.

    Mr. Nettle added that more than 60 percent of long-term care residents in the U.S. never have a visitor. Eldergivers' mission statement used to be about lessening the isolation of the elderly, but it has been revised to reflect connecting generations to elders to emphasize what they have to give back to the community.

    Mr. Nettle explained that the work created is curated into a juried show once a year and presented to the public at a gala exhibit, which then travels to venues like the War Memorial building and the Presidio, and is seen by over 60,000 people. This encourages the elders to improve their skills.

    Mr. Nettle closed by saying that residents in long-term care facilities have an overwhelming sense of uselessness and a winding down of life, but he has found that art opens them up to new worlds.

    Commissioner Young said Eldergivers is a wonderful organization. While everyone wants to fund youth programs, she noted that the elderly is a demographic not as well cared for. Mr. Nettle added that youth are involved with the program. He said that the annual exhibition has at times included six generations of attendees.

    Examples of artwork created by the Community Arts program at Central City Hospitality House were shown. Ms. Takayama then introduced Rick Darnell with Central City Hospitality House's Community Arts Program ("CAP") which is celebrating its 40th anniversary.

    Mr. Darnell said that CAP is both a writing program and visual art program, which includes painting, drawing, silkscreen, and ceramics. The work of several artists has been bought by art collectors. The CAP staff is diverse. They speak English, Spanish, and American Sign Language; are trained as social workers and as professional artists; and have shown at the de Young.

    Mr. Darnell said that CAP staff is working to get the artwork shown in many different places and have started an art lending library for residents of SROs (single room occupancy hotels). Over 50 pieces are on loan to help create a more homey feel at the SRO's. They are also loaning giant kites, created at CAP, with images of civil rights heroes on them, to the Department of Public Health's conference room.

    Commissioner Young asked how many people the CAP serves. Mr. Darnell said thy serve 300 unduplicated clients per month. This is a drop-in center and the youngest participant is 14 years old and the oldest is 93.

    Ms. Takayama said some of the CAP work is on display at the Arts Commission's City Hall gallery. Director Cancel praised the range and quality of the work.

    Commissioner Calegari asked if forays into a corporate art lending program would include a lending fee. Mr. Darnell said staff is always looking at ways to generate money. He noted that the money is always passed on to the artists.

    Ms. Nemzoff introduced motions to fund the Programs in the Community grants, calling attention to the language "pending confirmation of funding." Funding from Grants for the Arts ("GFTA") for the Programs in the Community ("PIC") and Festival programs has been cut. Director Cancel wrote a passionate letter to the Mayor's Office and funding for these programs has been restored from the General Fund. Director Cancel added that the Mayor's budget must make it past the review of the Board of Supervisors.

    Ms. Takayama said that these programs at social service agencies are great examples of how funding the arts makes a difference in people's lives.

    Commissioner Calloway asked why GFTA wasn't going to continue their funding. Director Cancel said that their budget was cut by 25 percent and they had to support their core projects.

    Commission Young made the following motion:
    Motion to approve the Programs in the Community grant to the following organizations, recommended by the PIC review panel, pending confirmation of funding in the 2009-2010 City budget:

    Eldergivers, $16,500
    Youth Guidance Center, $16,500
    Central City Hospitality House, $16,500
    Urban Services YMCA, $16,500
    Edgewood Center for Children and Families, $16,000
    UCSF Foundation, $16,000
    Boys & Girls Clubs of San Francisco, $16,000
    Larkin Street Youth Services, $16,000
    A Home Within, $16,000
    TOTAL: $146,000
    The motion passed unanimously.

    Ms. Nemzoff explained that the Neighborhood Festival grant program also lost funding from GFTA, which has been temporarily filled in by the General Fund. This program funds small neighborhood-based festivals defined by geographic neighborhoods. Ms. Nemzoff said there was potential to partner with the Mayor's Office of Employment and Workforce Development on funding this program.

    Commissioner Calloway added that the festivals create employment opportunities for performing artists.

    Commissioner Young made the following motion:
    Motion to approve Neighborhood Festival grants to the following organizations pending confirmation of funding in the 2009-2010 City budget:
    Richmond District Neighborhood Center to support Multicultural Children's Arts Fair, $3,000
    Chinatown Community Development Center to support Arts in the Alley, $3,000
    Sunset Youth Services for the Sunset District Neighborhood Coalition to support Sunset Community Festival, $3,000
    Japanese Community and Cultural Center of Northern California to support 18th Annual Children's Day Festival, $3,000
    North of Market/Tenderloin Community Benefit District to support North of Market/Tenderloin Safe Streets Holiday Street Festival, $3,000
    Community Initiatives for the Portola Neighborhood Steering Committee to support the Seventh Annual Portola Festival, $3,000
    Counterpulse for Marigold Project to support Festival of Altars, $3,000
    Neighborhood Parks Council for Bernal Heights Outdoor Cinema to support Bernal Heights Outdoor Cinema Festival, $3,000
    Precita Eyes Mural Arts Center for Precita Valley Neighbors to support Neighborhood Arts Festival, $3,000
    Visitacion Valley Community Development Corp to support 4th Annual Leland Avenue Street Fair, $3,000
    Potrero Hill Neighborhood House, Inc. to support Potrero Hill Festival, $3,000
    Community Initiatives for Excelsior Action Group to support Annual Excelsior Festival, $3,000
    OMI Cultural Participation Project to support Ninth Annual OMI International Family Festival, $3,000
    TOTAL: $39,000
    The motion passed unanimously.

  3. WritersCorps Report
    Commissioner Calegari said the WritersCorps poetry reading at 826 Valencia on Friday, June 5, Poetry Pairings, was the best reading she had even been to. Teachers were reading with their former students. Some student and teacher pairs had not seen each other for eight years. In addition to reading their poetry, they told the story of their relationship. Even though the reading went on for two hours, Commissioner Calegari said no one wanted to leave.

    Ms. Nemzoff said WritersCorps will be performing in the National Queer Arts Festival on June 23. She also announced that WritersCorps youth will be reading at the Giants game on June 16.

    Director Cancel reminded Commissioners that WritersCorps is now a joint program with the Library.

    Ms. Takayama also noted that WritersCorps was featured in the inaugural episode of the CAE podcast, Deep Roots. Director Cancel encouraged Commissioners to subscribe the podcast and applauded its professional quality.

  4. Arts Education Report
    Director Cancel announced that Anne Smith, a professional long active in the arts community, will be taking on the Arts Education Manager position on a temporary basis during the search for a permanent hire.

    Commissioner Young said that Ms. Smith has served on board of Theatre Bay Area and is very involved in the arts community. She then asked what the timeline is for filling the permanent position. Director Cancel said he is focusing on budget season and will work towards making a hire in the summer.

  5. Cultural Center Report
    Ms. Nemzoff said the following motions do not follow the usual protocol because confirming a dollar amount for the Hotel Tax Fund was difficult. Ms. Nemzoff asked the Commissioners for their support for a grant advance. She explained that the cultural centers usually receive a 16.6 percent advance to support summer programming and said it is critical that the Commission support their programs from the start of the fiscal year.

    She explained that in July, Commissioners will be asked to review the cultural centers' Management and Programming Plans and Budgets and will approve a full grant to the centers at that time.

    Director Cancel said that if he had made a projection, it would have been a 25 percent cut to the cultural centers, just as the other City agencies received. He reiterated that the following motions insure that the cultural centers won't have a cash-flow crisis.

    Director Cancel also noted an important policy issue for the Commissioners to take up. He said the large proportion of City funding going to each organization is unhealthy. He suggested that the CAEG Committee make recommendations based on consultation with the cultural centers to develop a strategy to attract additional resources, so that City support is a smaller proportion of the Centers' budgets. He added that he is trying to identify high net worth individuals to become involved with the cultural centers.

    Commissioner Calegari added that everyone should be on the hunt for good board members for the cultural centers.

    Commissioner Young said Boardnet USA is a good resource for trained individuals ready to be on a board. She also said she has a lead on a pool of people with Bank of America.

    London Breed, director of the African American Art and Culture Complex, explained that she has a hard time getting funding from foundations because they see the organization as a building with a lot of financial support.

    Vinay Patel, director of the Asian Pacific Islander Cultural Center ("APICC"), reported that they wrapped up their 12th United States of Asian America Festival, which included several world premieres.

    He said that APICC has brought together Asian Pacific Islander groups to talk about challenges in corporate fundraising and individual donor cultivation. He has learned that many of the organizations are in the same situation and looking for leadership. He added that difficult conversations among organizations are taking place regarding closing doors or merging. APICC has submitted grant applications to the National Endowment for the Arts and the San Francisco Foundation to find resources.

    Commissioner Melania made the following motion:
    Motion to approve a grant to Bayview Opera House, Inc. for 2009-2010, not to exceed $90,000, with remaining grant allocation approved upon review of Management and Programming Plan and Budget.
    The motion passed unanimously.

    Commissioner Young made the following motion:
    Motion to approve a grant to Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts for 2009-2010, not to exceed $185,000, with remaining grant allocation approved upon review of Management and Programming Plan and Budget.
    The motion passed unanimously.

    Commissioner Melania made the following motion:
    Motion to approve a grant to African American Art and Culture Complex for 2009-2010, not to exceed $155,000, with remaining grant allocation approved upon review of Management and Programming Plan and Budget.
    Commissioner Young abstained. The motion passed with a majority.

    Commissioner Melania made the following motion:
    Motion to approve a grant to SOMArts Cultural Center and sub-grantees for 2009-2010, not to exceed $259,000 (including $213,000 to SOMArts, $23,000 to sub-grantee Asian Pacific Islander Cultural Center and $23,000 to sub-grantee Queer Cultural Center).
    The motion passed unanimously.

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

  7. New Business
    Director Cancel invited Commissioners to the professional development workshop at Bayview Opera House with David Perry, a local publicist.

    Commissioners also congratulated Commissioner Calloway on receiving his doctoral degree.

  8. Adjournment
    There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 5:39 p.m.

7/1/09 RT