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Meeting Information


2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 

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


The meeting was called to order at 4:17 p.m.

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

Staff Present: Director of Cultural Affairs Luis R. Cancel, Community Arts and Education Program Director Judy Nemzoff, Cultural Equity Grants Program Director San San Wong, Community Arts and Education Program Associate Robynn Takayama, WritersCorps Program Associate Melissa Hung, 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 reported that the Cultural Equity Grants Program ("CEG") continues to be down one full-time staff person, Program Associate Ebony McKinney, who has been on leave for a month and a half. Jaime Cortez is coming on board part-time to assist with the work around the Arts and Communities grant documentation and evaluation process, and with the Native American Arts and Cultural Traditions Grants program. He is a past Arts and Culture Fellow with the San Francisco Foundation, an artist, and is currently working on a curation project at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.

    Commissioner Calegari inquired if Mr. Cortez will be taking on a new position with CEG or just some of the work. Ms. Wong replied that he will be working on new projects but also covering some existing work. She explained that the timeline for Ms. McKinney's return to SFAC is still unknown. She is also trying to bring in more individuals to help with financial management.

    As for CEG's remaining grant categories, the Organizational Project Grants ("OPG") have conducted application review panels for organizations in the performing arts with budgets under $150,000. Panels for organizations in the performing arts with budgets between $150,000 and $1 million will be held on March 12 and 13. The last set of OPG panels for organizations in visual, literary and media arts will be held on March 24 and 25. The recommendations from all the OPG panels will be presented to the committee in April. In addition, the Native American Arts and Cultural Traditions grants deadline is March 20. The panels are scheduled for April 23 and 24.

    Ms. Wong informed the Committee of the Creative Capacity Fund launch on March 3. The CEO of the Kennedy Center, Michael Kaiser, will be speaking on May 11 at the Commonwealth Club. The event will be broadcast on radio.

    Ms. Wong said that she would continue her report with a presentation about panelists after the CAE report.

  2. Community Arts & Education Director's Report
    Ms. Nemzoff introduced the motion to approve panelists by explaining how she creates the panel for the Programs in the Community grants, which is slightly different than how CEG puts together a panel. She said the panel should be made up of a combination of experts in the nonprofit field as well as artists rooted in the community. Their knowledge should include youth, media, and LGBT issues since those are the kinds of organizations that apply. Ms. Nemzoff also wanted to include one person seasoned in the funding community.

    Ms. Nemzoff said that the grant is for hands-on art experience with a public event, and applications are evaluated on the quality of the arts experience, not necessarily the numbers of people served.

    Commissioner Young asked how the Program tracks the qualities represented by the panelists. Ms. Nemzoff explained the matrix used to compile a diverse panel. Director Cancel said efficiencies will increase with the database that is in development.

    Ms. Nemzoff said she anticipated a decrease in applicants as programs have been cut, people have been laid off, and organizations may have a hard time raising the cash match.

    Commissioner Calegari made the following motion:
    Motion to approve the following individuals as grants application review panelists for the Programs in the Community grant panel:
    Marc Vogl, Program Officer at the William & Flora Hewlett Foundation
    Kirthi Nath, Digital Pathways Manager/Video Instructor/Next Gen Media Distribution Coordinator at Bay Area Video Coalition
    Nacala Jendayi, San Francisco Foundation Multicultural Fellow in Education
    Elvin Padilla, Executive Director of the Tenderloin Economic Development Project
    Evan Bissell, visual artist

    The motion passed unanimously.

  3. WritersCorps Report
    Ms. Melissa Hung distributed the new WritersCorps book "Days I Moved Through Ordinary Sounds: The Teachers of WritersCorps in Poetry and Prose." The book was edited by former WritersCorps teacher Chad Sweeney and has cover art by Jenifer Wofford, and a foreword by Martín Espada. She said this was the first anthology of teacher writing rather than student writing and includes work from a diverse group of writers nationwide, including spoken word artists, playwrights, fiction writers, and poets. The book tour will launch on April 15 at City Lights, and includes dates in the Bay Area, New York, and Washington D. C.

    Ms. Hung also noted two other events: a reading at the Main Library on May 20 to celebrate the students' site publications, and a reading at the Giants game on June 16. Director Cancel offered his home to host a pre-game fundraising party.

    Commissioners congratulated Ms. Hung on the new book.

  4. Arts Education Report
    There was no report.

  5. Cultural Center Report
    Ms. Nemzoff explained the process for allocating the grant amount to the Cultural Centers from the Hotel Tax Fund ("HTF"). She said the initial grant amounts are calculated in May for the Centers to create their Management and Programming Plan and Budget. After the full Commission approves the budgets in July, the Cultural Centers get an advance on their total grant. The HTF amount changes by the fall. Ms. Nemzoff said the motion before the Committee reflected the increase to the HTF, which was released in October. Ms. Nemzoff made it clear that these are not new funds but the allocated Cultural Center funds for the current fiscal year.
    Commissioner Draisin opened the floor to public comment.

    Ms. Jennie Rodriguez from the Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts asked what formula was used to determine the grant amounts. Ms. Nemzoff explained that the Cultural Center directors agreed to make an adjustment to the formula so that the allocation to the African American Art and Culture Complex ("AAACC") increased gradually over five years. This gradual increase will stop in 2011.

    Ms. Nemzoff said the formula used to present the motions today corrected a mistake in the formula that disproportionately impacted the virtual centers.

    Commissioner Calegari asked how the formula was determined in the first place. Ms. Rodriguez said it was based on each center's square footage, but she would like to see if there's another way to figure out the formula that factors in usage of the center. Ms. Breed said it could not be based on square footage because AAACC is the largest center and does not receive the highest percentage. She felt that SFAC staff and Cultural Center directors never determined how the percentage was allocated.

    Ms. Nemzoff said that when she started at the Arts Commission, she was told that her predecessor would convene a meeting of Center directors without SFAC staff. The Center directors would determine what the allocation would be and dictate that to SFAC staff.

    While she did not want to continue funding in this manner, Ms. Nemzoff wanted to be sensitive to the historic distribution of the funds. She said that during a period of turmoil, AAACC lost five percent of their allocation. Two years ago, a consultant worked with the Center directors to determine the percentage allocation and the directors agreed to gradually increase the distribution to AAACC and reassess the distribution percentages after five years.

    Ms. Leifheit said this was the first time she was hearing about a debate over the formula. She hopes that if there is a discussion about changing the percentage allocation, it will be an inclusive process and take place over time.

    Ms. Breed thanked Ms. Nemzoff and Ms. Takayama for their hard work on the Centers. She said AAACC is undergoing a $1.5 million renovation project. She encouraged the Commissioners to visit the centers and see the energy and activities taking place. She said the buildings are treasures and wanted to make sure that the Commissioners understood what valuable assets they are.

    Before the vote on the motions, Ms. Takayama reminded Commissioners that the grant amounts in the motions include the energy subsidies.

    Commissioner Melania made the following motion:
    Motion to increase the 2008-2009 grant agreement to African American Art and Culture Complex by $22,373 for a total grant not to exceed $491,919, contingent upon a budget revision.
    The motion passed unanimously, with the exception of Commissioner Young, who recused herself.

    Commissioner Melania made the following motion:
    Motion to increase the 2008-2009 grant agreement to Bayview Opera House by $14,460 for a total grant not to exceed $319,611, contingent upon a budget revision.
    The motion passed unanimously.

    Commissioner Melania made the following motion:
    Motion to increase the 2008-2009 grant agreement to Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts by $12,618 for a total grant not to exceed $539,671, contingent upon a budget revision.
    The motion passed unanimously.

    Commissioner Calegari made the following motion:
    Motion to increase the 2008-2009 grant agreement to South of Market Cultural Center and sub-grantees by $43,889 ($25,507 to SomArts, $9,191 to sub-grantee Asian Pacific Islander Cultural Center, and $9,191 to sub-grantee Queer Cultural Center) for a total grant not to exceed $800,621, ($603,763 to SomArts; $98,429 to sub-grantee Asian Pacific Islander Cultural Center; and $98,429 to sub-grantee Queer Cultural Center) contingent upon a budget revision.
    The motion passed unanimously.

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

  7. New Business
    Commissioner Draisin said that the economic environment requires the Arts Commission to look at opportunities. With regards to the Cultural Centers, she wanted to explore granting and accountability, including what the Arts Commission been charged with doing, division of responsibilities, how the mission of the programs should evolve, and how the formula for grant distribution is determined.

    Ms. Leifheit added that three of the Centers have new directors, so it is a time of change and new opportunities. She said it's also a time of budget cuts, and she said there needs to be strategic planning for the Cultural Center program.

    Ms. Nemzoff said this time of new leadership at the centers provides an opportunity to shift our partnership with the Cultural Centers. She said the Arts Commission would retain the responsibilities of a landlord. She added that the Centers are in prime areas for stimulus money and the Arts Commission is poised to have vibrant tenants and programs.

    Ms. Rodriguez asked for the Commission to also consider establishing leases for the Centers to make it easier for them to raise funds for the buildings. Ms. Nemzoff said that every Center has a one-year lease interwoven with their grant agreement.

    Commissioner Draisin asked how Ms. Breed raised money for her Center's improvements with the one-year lease. Ms. Breed said she uses her knowledge of the City to raise capital funds. She agreed it would be easier if she had a longer-term lease.

    Ms. Breed encouraged the development of a long-range plan for the Centers, but she felt the Commissioners should see the buildings in action before they make decisions about them.

    Mr. Vinay Patel, director of the Asian Pacific Islander Cultural Center, said he had been using the two months in his new position to reinvent and find the organization's identity. He thanked SFAC staff for their input. He said he wants the community to feel confident that the money that comes to APICC is going back out to the community and he wants to make APICC a leader in the community and a resource.

    Ms. Nemzoff suggested a discussion at the next Committee meeting on the Cultural Center evaluation forms. She said she keeps the form simple and asked Commissioners how staff might better capture the information they'd like on paper.

    Commissioner Young encouraged her peers to drop in to the centers. Ms. Nemzoff said it should be a prerequisite to sitting on this Committee.

    Commissioner Draisin expressed interest in surveying the Cultural Equity Grants Program grantmaking to assess the communities that are receiving funds and the demographics represented. She would like to revisit concerns that were brought up in previous meetings of developing discretionary funds.

    Ms. Wong made a presentation on the demographic breakdown of grants review panelists in fiscal year 2007-2008. The demographic categories analyzed were charted separately by sexual identity, gender, and race, and by new versus returning panelists.

    The presentation also included an analysis of the number of new applications versus the number of total applications by year that CEG received from 2002 to 2009. The total numbers included applications from individual artists, arts organizations and immigrant service organizations.

    Reflecting on the research, Ms. Wong posed questions examining the current artistic and cultural community of San Francisco. As part of the examination of the number of artists and arts organizations in San Francisco, she asked how many fit the CEG criteria and are eligible to apply. Another consideration is whether organizations have the infrastructure and organizational capacity to be a grantee of the City of San Francisco.

    Ms. Wong asked, as part of a policy discussion, if there is a limit on the support that SFAC should give organizations which have historically been denied or received less funding because of institutionalized racism. Does the Arts Commission have the human and financial resources to respectfully and appropriately reach out to new organizations and new communities? Lastly, what is the unique experience of an organization or of a community that needs to be taken into consideration?

    Commissioner Young expressed appreciation for the research and presentation.

    Commissioner Draisin asked Ms. Wong to talk historically about what shaped CEG. Ms. Wong said that Cultural Equity was started to address funding disparities in the City of San Francisco-where the funds were directed was disproportionate to the population and communities. She spoke about the bankruptcy of Festival 2000, the Cultural Task Force and the Jeff Jones report which concluded that Grants for the Arts tended to fund large-budget organizations rather than the small and mid-sized ones. Additional constituencies that were determined to be under-funded were organizations rooted in historically underserved communities and individual artists. The legislation for CEG mandates that 50% of the funding go to communities of color; therefore, the history of the legislation not only identifies communities but shapes the core programs.

    The question now to ask is: has the funding substantially shifted? Ms. Wong explained that it has for the City of San Francisco, but there still exists a large inequity of funding from agencies and foundations. One major decrease in funding to organizations serving communities and artists of color happened when the California Arts Council's budget fell from $56 million to $1 million. Public funding has historically had to step in to address institutionalized racism. That begs the larger question of what the role of public funding is and if it is to address the issue of institutionalized racism.

    Commissioner Draisin appreciated hearing the historical context and said the explanation was helpful. Ms. Wong pointed out that within the demographic distribution, people identify in multiple ways. For example, within "White" and "Asian" categories, there are ethnic breakdowns. Ms. Wong followed that the question is not only about identification but how that manifests in organizations. How do organizations develop definitions along culturally identified lines through their staff and board?

    Commissioner Melania asked what Commissioners can do to advise new and potential applicants to help them acquire funding. She explained that those organizations are doing wonderful work in their communities but are not ready to come into CEG.

    Ms. Wong responded that she would be happy to speak with and/or workshop with those collectives to inform them of ways to guide themselves in choosing the organization they want to be and how to grow their organizations. Another way to support this is through the Cultural Equity Initiatives Level One grants, where creating an entry-level grant would assist organizations with sustainability efforts. In its pilot phase, the Creative Capacity Fund is limited to grantees only.

    Commissioner Young inquired whether it would be more useful for a small or new organization to partner with other established agencies as a beginning step. Ms. Wong replied that partnering with organizations with similar values and that serve some of the same communities would be most appropriate.

    Commissioner Draisin asked about the Arts Education Program. Ms. Nemzoff said the program has been reshaped in the past two years. With a very small budget, the program has focused on 1) strengthening artists' skills at working with youth and the partnership with the Arts providers Alliance; 2) continuing to develop and maintain a working relationship with the San Frranciso Unified School District; and 3) deepening the partnership with other Arts Commission programs. She hopes to have a job description for the Arts Education Program Manager's position being vacated by Dia Penning posted by mid-April, with a permanent hire in place by the early summer.

    Ms. Nemzoff reminded Commissioners that she presented a five-year plan for the Arts Education Program, but said the plan may need to be reviewed again. She announced a pending partnership with the Department of Public Works on graffiti and a partnership with Hastings School of Law on law and art.

    Ms. Nemzoff said that programs that nurture new audiences and youth are falling through the funding cracks and the Arts Education Program should address this problem.

  8. Adjournment
    As there was no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 6:00 p.m.

4/01/09 LL