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Meeting Information


2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 

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


The meeting was called to order at 4:04 p.m.

Commissioners Present: Maya Draisin, Sherri Young, Sherene Melania, Nínive Calegari

Staff Present: Community Arts and Education Program Director Judy Nemzoff, Cultural Equity Grants Program Associate Weston Teruya, Cultural Equity Grants Program Associate Lucy K. Lin, Arts Education Program Manager Dia Penning, Community Arts and Education Program Associate Robynn Takayama, Luis R. Cancel, Director of Cultural Affairs, for a portion of the meeting.


  1. Cultural Equity Grants Program Director's Report
    Ms. Lin reported that Cultural Equity Grants held their Cultural Equity Initiatives-Level 1 grant review panels last month. Applications were broken into several categories by budget size, as well as whether they are artist-led or presenting and service organizations. Four of nine of the artist-led organizations and 13 of 21 presenting and service organizations were recommended for funding. The funding recommendations by budget categories included: two of the three organizations with budgets $35,000 and under; seven of 11 with budgets from $35,000 to $150,000; and eight of 16 with budgets from $150,000 to $1 million. A majority of the requests were to expand existing staff or hire new staff in part-time positions. Many of these positions will focus on development and fundraising to support the organization. Criteria for review included the quality of the organization's programming and relationship to their community, the project's merit, the impact on the organization and the organization's ability to serve their community and the organization's capacity to successfully implement the project. In general, applicants hoped to meet the challenges of the economic recession through strengthening their development capacity and the panel noted that many organizations lacked diversified income streams.

    Ms. Lin introduced presenters from organizations recommended for funding. The first organization to present was Fifth Stream Music. The organization is the nonprofit incarnation of the Asian American Orchestra which has created music that blends pan-Asian instruments and sensibilities with jazz since 1998. It is an artist-led organization with a budget of about $45,000. The panel was struck with the longstanding commitment of Artistic Director Dr. Anthony Brown to bridging the Japanese, Japanese American and African American communities of the Japantown and Fillmore districts.

    Dr. Anthony Brown spoke on behalf of Fifth Stream Music. Dr. Brown introduced a sample of the Asian American Orchestra's work as a version of George Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue." He explained that the song was originally a Jewish immigrant's interpretation of jazz music and American culture which the Asian American Orchestra remade to present what they saw as the Bay Area of the 21st century. Instruments used included the Chinese viola, Chinese hammered dulcimer and steel drums. Dr. Brown explained that the organization is still in its nascent stages. While they were initially artistically focused, as they move forward they will focus increasingly on education programming. The organization hopes that by having an intercultural and interracial group of performers that students can see that a variety of cultures and genders have been connected to jazz music. Dr. Brown explained that, being of mixed racial heritage, he would like to provide an artistic culture that draws on both of his backgrounds and sees that in the history of the Japantown and Fillmore neighborhoods. This initiative will allow them to bring in someone to do fundraising work and to train their Board of Directors and Dr. Brown. Having been successful in raising government and foundation funding, they would like to diversify their support.

    Ms. Lin introduced Army of Lovers as the next presenter. The organization is an artist-led organization with a budget under $30,000. The panel was impressed with Artistic Director Kirk Read's creative approaches to solving organizational challenges and the level of community support for his artistic work.

    Kirk Read introduced a video sample of Army of Lovers' work. The clip documented part of This is the Thing, a performance which ran for 18 shows and will be touring. Mr. Read explained that the grant will give him a salary for the first time and will hire a part-time financial director. He explained that as an artist-led organization; their priority is to be project-oriented and keep down the organizational bureaucracy. Their next project will feature art from male sex workers.

    Ms. Lin presented on behalf of Zaccho Dance Company. She explained that Zaccho is an artist-led company with a budget of over $300,000. The organization creates large-scale site-specific work, as well as smaller chamber works. Artistic Director Joanna Haigood's performances investigate dance as it relates to place and often involve local communities in the research and creative process of the work. Zaccho addresses its underserved community in the Bayview Hunters Point through its youth performing arts program which reaches low-income African American youth and other youth of color. The panel felt that the planning aspect of the proposal was strong and timely given the redevelopment plans in the Bayview Hunters Point community. The grant will support the creation of a new five-year strategic plan, including a comprehensive fundraising plan. They also plan to hire an assistant to the Artistic Director to ensure the quality of projects through the planning period and actively recruit and train three to five new Board members. Ms. Lin presented a video sample of Zaccho Dance Company's performance at the San Francisco International Airport.

    Ms. Lin introduced the Queer Women of Color Media Arts Project ("QWOCMAP"), a presenting and service organization that over its nine years has addressed the needs of queer women of color filmmakers and community members. The panel spoke highly of the impact they have in their community and support they give to emerging filmmakers.

    Madeleine Lim, filmmaker and founding Executive Director, presented on behalf of QWOCMAP. Ms. Lim shared a video sample of the first trailer created for their first film festival. She explained that the artists who made the trailer were trained in the organization's filmmaking program. The grant will support the development of the organization's capacity by hiring a coordinator. Through the hiring of an events manager through a grant last year, they were able to grow their individual donor and funder base. Ms. Lim noted that film is an important medium and that it is rare to see images of other queer women of color on screen, so they teach queer women of color to have the skills necessary to create their own images. They will hold their fifth annual film festival this year and will focus on immigration as a theme.

    Ms. Lin introduced Kearny Street Workshop as the last organization to present. Founded in 1972, Kearny Street Workshop is the nation's oldest Asian Pacific American multidisciplinary arts organization. With a budget slightly over $150,000, it strives to produce and present art that empowers Asian Pacific American artists and communities. Panelists noted the organization's ability to adapt and redefine itself to meet the shifting needs of their community. This grant will support a marketing and outreach initiative that takes advantage of social networking media and the web as platforms for community engagement.

    Ellen Oh presented on behalf of Kearny Street Workshop. She explained that the proposal focused on upgrading administrative systems and creating new ways to reach their community, particularly through the web. She introduced a podcast recording embedded on their blog as an example of the features they plan to build into their new site. The site will create an artist community by featuring artist profiles created by their community members to connect with other artists, curators and collectors. She explained that Kearny Street Workshop helped create the Asian American Jazz Festival in the 1980s and the APAture festival featuring younger artists in the 1990s because of the needs in the community at those points. They currently see their community coming together online and would like to create a new space to support that.

    Ms. Lin asked if commissioners had questions for any of the organizations or the Cultural Equity Grants staff.

    Commissioner Calegari asked if Cultural Equity Grants staff is in touch with organizations not recommended for funding.

    Ms. Lin explained that organizations can request their panel notes and meet with staff for further technical assistance.

    Commissioner Calegari asked how many applicants attended the panel discussions.

    Ms. Lin explained that the Cultural Equity Initiative - Level 1 panel process included interviews with representatives from each applicant organization, so all were in attendance. The question and answer section of the review allowed panelists to receive further clarification from applicants.

    Commissioner Young noted that it is great for panelists to have that information available directly.

    Commissioner Calegari noted that a process like that requires a lot of work.

    Commissioner Young asked whether the passing of Executive Director Ave Montague of the San Francisco Black Film Festival will impact their project and recommendation for funding.

    Commissioner Draisin explained that she has met with Cultural Equity Grants Program Director San San Wong to discuss how best to handle the situation. Commissioner Draisin proposed that the Arts Commission continue to support the Film Festival with the understanding that funding is not confirmed until approved by the full Commission, which gives Ms. Wong time to work with them to modify their proposed project. She noted that it would be horrible to not support them at this time.

    Commissioner Young asked for clarification on how Ms. Montague's role as the organization's leader will impact the project moving forward.

    Commissioner Draisin noted that it has been a challenge for the organization. The organization's Development Director is currently the point of contact, but she lives in Los Angeles. The Commission would provide this show of support with the knowledge that if the project proves to be untenable, the funds would not have to be released to the organization.

    Ms. Nemzoff explained that if they do not have the organizational structure to move forward, because the funds are on a reimbursement basis, they would be unable to invoice for their funds and the money would be released regardless.

    Commissioner Draisin suggested that the proposal may be modified to address this leadership transition.

    Commissioner Melania expressed concern that six of the seventeen organizations recommended for funding are Asian. She would like to be sure other communities are not left out.

    Ms. Lin pointed out that the recommended groups change from year to year and that this year there was an influx of Asian American organizations in this grant category.

    Commissioner Melania explained that she did read the notes from the panel discussion and agrees that the organizations are worthy but wanted to register her concern.

    Commissioner Calloway pointed out that any assessment would have to done on the overall pool of applicants year-to-year. He also noted that it is sometimes about bringing in other applicants and doing greater outreach.

    Ms. Lin explained that even with outreach, new organizations to the application process are sometimes not as competitive in this grant category, so they are sometimes encouraged to apply through the Organization Project Grants category to gain more experience. With the list of organizations recommended for funding through that grant, Commissioners may see a wider range of organizations.

    Commissioner Draisin noted that in conversations with Ms. Wong about potential future budget cuts to grants, they discussed implementing systems to track what communities are receiving grants.

    Commissioner Calloway asked if Cultural Equity Grants does an analysis of which communities come in and which might not be represented.

    Ms. Lin explained that while Cultural Equity Grants does some of that analysis, they have not done an extensive in-depth analysis to this point. She noted that Ms. Wong has planned ecology scans looking at some of these communities as well as the shifting demographics of San Francisco, which will give a stronger sense of what is happening in these communities.

    Commissioner Calegari noted that some organizations fell below the funding line by only a few points and that there were some Latino organizations right below the cutoff.

    Commissioner Calloway noted that, having sat on a recent panel, there are often many excellent proposals and that there is discussion about spreading out the money differently, but unfortunately sometimes organizations are left out.

    Ms. Nemzoff asked for clarification on whether there are two more grant categories being reviewed in this grant cycle.

    Ms. Lin explained that there are the Organization Project Grants and Native American Arts & Cultural Traditions grants still being reviewed in this cycle.

    Ms. Nemzoff suggested that there be an overview of the year presented at the end of the grant cycle.

    Commissioner Draisin noted that criteria for the distribution of funds across underserved communities has not been incorporated in current or prior guidelines.

    Commissioner Calegari pointed out that while this can be discussed, she would hesitate to create specific rules because the grant panel process is also about rewarding excellence.

    Commissioner Calloway made the following motion:
    Motion to approve recommendations to award seventeen grants totaling $385,450 in the 2008-2009 cycle of Cultural Equity Initiatives Level One grants to the following organizations, and to authorize the Director of Cultural Affairs to enter into grant agreements with each for the amounts listed:

    3rd i South Asian Independent Film Festival, $23,000
    Alliance for California Traditional Arts, $25,000
    Army of Lovers, $13,450
    Asian American Women Artists Association, $11,000
    Chinese Cultural Productions, $25,000
    Chinese Culture Foundation of San Francisco, $25,000
    Chinese Historical Society of America, $25,000
    Croatian American Cultural Center, $25,000
    Fifth Stream Music, $23,000
    Galería de la Raza, $25,000
    Kearny Street Workshop, $25,000
    Kularts, $24,000
    Queer Women of Color Media Arts Project, $25,000
    Radar Productions, $20,000
    San Francisco Black Film Festival, $23,000
    Women's Audio Mission, $23,000
    ZACCHO Dance Theatre, $25,000

    Commissioner Calegari seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

    Ms. Lin explained that the second motion is to approve panelists for the upcoming Organization Project Grants review process.

    Commissioner Melania noted that it was good to see new panelists brought in.

    Commissioner Calloway pointed out that Marcus Shelby is listed as a musician but also serves in many other roles.

    Commissioner Melania made the following motion:
    Motion to approve the following individuals as grants application review panelists for Cultural Equity Grants:
    Kim Anno, Artist, Professor, Writer
    Ellen Sebastian Chang, Director, Writer and Creative Consultant
    Della Davidson, Artistic Director, Theatre and Dance Department, University of California, Davis
    Judy Tsang Henderson, Director of Programming, Stern Grove Festival Association
    Georgina Hernandez, Associate Director, Stanford Institute for Diversity in the Arts
    Ivan Jaigirdar, Artistic Director, 3rd i South Asian Independent Film Festival
    Mark Johnson, Professor of Art and Gallery Director, San Francisco State University
    Margot Melcon, Literary Manager, Marin Theatre Company
    Ron Muriera, Former Executive Director, Manilatown Heritage Foundation
    Ann Marie Nemanich, Executive Director, LINES Ballet
    Marcus Shelby, Musician
    Jack Walsh, Co-Director, National Alliance for Media Arts and Culture
    Commissioner Young seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

  2. Community Arts & Education Director's Report
    With so much emphasis on the cultural centers, Ms. Nemzoff said the work of our other programs hadn't been highlighted and she would address that today. As discussed at the Committee's last meeting, Arts Education and WritersCorps will present to the committee over the next two meetings. She asked Arts Education manager Dia Penning to report on the activities of the program.

    Commissioner Draisin asked Ms. Nemzoff to discuss the reorganization and budget proposals currently being reviewed by the Arts Commission. She asked what impact the recommendations would have on the Community Arts and Education program ("CAE"). Ms. Nemzoff stated that in 2002, the Arts Commission sustained a severe reduction in funding which resulted in staff layoffs. CAE lost three positions: the cultural center program manager, the arts education program assistant, and a program manager at an off-site, community-based arts program in Chinatown, so she does not think the program can sustain further cuts. She is concerned that the reorganization does not support the historic 40-year commitment to neighborhood and community arts and explained the difference between programs that exist to deepen the access and learning of the community versus programs that support artistic output. She believes both have value for a City agency and hopes there is an articulated policy to sustain both during the difficult budget conversations.

    Commissioner Young asked for an explanation of the Programs in the Community ("PIC") grant and the Neighborhood Festival grant. Ms. Nemzoff explained that PIC grant (funded by Grants for the Arts) is based in participation and community and cultural development, and the definition of outcomes and quality are often different than artist-led initiatives. She said it's more about participation than product.

    Vinay Patel, interim director of the Asian Pacific Islander Cultural Center, told about his experiences working with the Chinatown Beacon Center on a PIC grant and the positive impact it had helping the Beacon Center understand the importance of the arts. He hopes the model of the PIC grant will be maintained.

  3. WritersCorps Report
    WritersCorps will report at next month's committee meeting.

  4. Arts Education Report
    Ms. Penning said that the Arts Commission continues to play a role in implementing the arts education master plan. Also, she said that Ms. Nemzoff is on the Community Building Organizations/Partnership/San Francisco Unified School District ("SFUSD") committee coordinated through the Department of Children, Youth and Families ("DCYF"), and she also is the co-chair of the Arts Education Master Plan Advisory Committee.

    Ms. Penning noted the recent publication of an online professional development workbook with the Los Angeles County Arts Commission and Santa Clara County Arts Commission, which began under the previous education manager. The online resource is available through the Arts Commission website.

    Ms. Penning reported that the Arts Education program is expanding on arts education training in partnership with the Arts Providers Alliance ("APA"). APA received a $10,000 grant from the Zellerbach Family Foundation to support professional development. The Arts Education program will be partnering on a spring series that highlights artist training. Ms. Penning distributed a draft of the spring educational season. After details are finalized, she explained, the materials will be put into a postcard format and distributed.

    Ms. Penning reported that part of the spring season will include a new program partnership with the Hastings College of Law, which will include conversations with San Francisco artists on topics such as social justice education and art and law. Ms. Penning also talked about a new collaboration with the Department of Public Works ("DPW"), building curriculum for elementary and middle school children on vandalism, graffiti and public responsibility. She said it looks at graffiti from the point of view of an artist rather than from delinquency and demonstrates the cost to the City when damage is done. DPW will partner with Arts Education and has offered to help raise funding to support the outreach and education efforts.

    Ms. Nemzoff said the emphasis for the Arts Education program has shifted over the past two years from focusing on classrooms to building support for artists and teaching artists. This has been a coordinated effort with the funders, Arts Providers Alliance and the School District, as the Arts Education Master Plan has taken on the charge of classroom professional development. Ms. Penning said that feedback from funders supported this shift.

    Commissioner Melania said she was excited about the collaborations and made a request for a list of programs in the schools involved with the Master Plan. Ms. Penning said that a document like this does not exist. Ms. Nemzoff offered to invite Ms. Antigone Trimis, the SFUSD Implementation Manager for the Arts Master Plan, to attend a CAEG meeting for a more in-depth conversation. Commissioners stated they would be very interested in that opportunity.

    Commissioner Calloway noted the scarcity of funds for arts education and explained the difference between artists and teaching artists. He said that Prop H funds should go to teaching artists. Ms. Penning explained how the Prop H funds are distributed to the schools.

    Ms. Penning reminded Commissioners that the Arts Education Funders Collaborative, a project that the previous Arts Education Manager was greatly involved in, is phasing out. The bulk of Ms. Penning's work in the fall was to develop a design for a possible cultural voucher program, complete the final events and projects with AEFC, strengthen partnerships in the arts providers community and begin the design of the spring and summer education series.

  5. Cultural Center Report
    Ms. Nemzoff introduced Lex Leifheit, Executive Director at SomArts. Ms. Leifheit summarized the progress made on board development, including attending Volunteer Match's board match event. She then introduced Byron Johnson, Project Director at CompassPoint.

    Mr. Johnson said that his area of expertise is in fundraising, board development, and executive transition, which is how he became involved with SomArts. His work started with SomArts in December to build alignment on the board around responsibilities and board recruitment. He facilitated a board retreat to discuss what they envisioned for SomArts and created a matrix of what assets the board already has and what kinds of leadership they should bring on. Mr. Johnson presented SomArts' 2009 Board Development Plan.

    He said board members identified four desired attributes for new members, and that people with three of the four attributes have been identified.

    Ms. Leifheit said the current board is more engaged than they've been in the past. Mr. Johnson said they have an Executive Director who can do the day-to-day work so that the board can play more of a policy role.

    Ms. Nemzoff provided a brief overview of the Cultural Center midyear reports submitted on January 30. Staff did not have time to prepare a formal presentation and Bayview Opera House and the African American Art and Culture Complex reports were late, making any report incomplete. Despite the late report, Ms. Nemzoff said, Bayview is showing strong signs of growth. They met the required revenue target despite reduced programs. She reminded Commissioners that Bayview was told by the Arts Commission not to program in the fall because of pending construction which never occurred because of City budget reductions. Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts met their revenue target through earned income from class fees, and SomArts through earned income from technical services, yet all the Cultural Centers need to diversify their funding sources. Ms. Nemzoff said she was heartened by the work Vinay Patel has done since he started as Interim Director of the Asian Pacific Islander Cultural Center. She said he has been meeting with their funders and is trying to make major changes for next year. Unfortunately, she reported, APICC has not been meeting their goal of doing year-round programming as stated in their Management and Programming Plan. Ms. Nemzoff concluded by noting that Queer Cultural Center continues to surpass their fundraising goals and that the Cultural Center funding is now less then 20% of their budget. They have been able to access funds from Grants for the Arts and CEG.

    Ms. Nemzoff reported that staff from Grants for the Arts, the Arts Commission and DCYF, who last year increased their funding to arts organizations, will meet in the coming months to discuss the arts organizations that receive City funds from multiple sources and whether it would be advantageous in light of the current budget crisis to limit double- and triple-dipping.

    Commissioner Young asked for a distinction from the Centers between events that they produce versus building rentals. Ms. Takayama explained that report forms ask for an explanation of the Centers' role in events that are collaborations, but that each director views this differently. Ms. Leifheit said there would need to be a discussion if there is a change made to the reporting. She added that the community values the hands-off approach SomArts plays when renting their space. Commissioner Young pointed out that the distinction between events produced by the organization and renters is required by Grants for the Arts.

    Director Cancel said that the Cultural Centers offer a great value when they co-sponsor an event or offer a deep discount to renters. Commissioner Draisin said she wanted to know the difference between produced events and rentals in order to scan how the organization is serving the community and how the funds the Arts Commission gives are being used.

    Director of Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts, Jennie Rodriguez noted that there is a question in the final report to address how the organization serves its community.

    Director Cancel said that next year's reporting should be reviewed and that he did not agree that the midyear report from the Centers should be eliminated.
  6. Buildings and Grounds Superintendent Report
    Director Cancel explained that the City's elimination of funding for capital projects affected several of the Cultural Center projects, including funds anticipated for ADA accessibility work. The Arts Commission, with DPW, had already begun design and construction documents for the Bayview Opera House when funds were eliminated. Some of the funds had been identified to cover salary costs in the current fiscal year for the Building and Grounds Superintendent.

    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 6:07 p.m.

3/2/09 RT