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Meeting Information


2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 

October 13, 2009
4:00 p.m.
25 Van Ness Avenue, Suite 70
San Francisco


The meeting was called to order at 4:03 p.m.

Commissioners Present: Maya Draisin, Sherri Young, John Calloway

Staff Present: Community Arts and Education Program Associate Robynn Takayama, WritersCorps Program Associate Melissa Hung


  1. Cultural Equity Grants Program Director's Report
    There was no staff present as they had a grant panel on the same day, and there was no report.

    Commissioner Young made the following motion:
    Motion to approve the following individuals as grants application review panelists for Cultural Equity Grants:
    Sally Al-Daher, Executive Director, Arab Cultural and Community Center
    Roy Chan, Co-Executive Director, Oakland Asian Cultural Center
    Rosa Gonzalez, Education Coordinator, Partnership for Immigrant Leadership and Action, writer, visual and performing artist
    Shefali Shah, Environmental Justice Educator and Instructor of Traditional Dance

    The motion passed unanimously.

  2. Community Arts & Education Director's Report
    Ms. Takayama reported in Ms. Nemzoff’s absence. She drew the commissioners’ attention to legislation proposed by Supervisor Daly that would affect San Francisco Arts Commission ("SFAC") staff and Cultural Center staff and said staff at Friends of the Library could provide more information on the upcoming meeting and details of the legislation.

  3. WritersCorps Report
    Ms. Hung reported that the WritersCorps season had launched with seven teachers; a portion of the salaries were covered by the federal economic stimulus package. WritersCorps is teaching at more sites this year including more libraries. They are also developing workshops for youth who have aged out of the program.

    Ms. Hung said that WritersCorps would be participating in two exciting literary events in October. For the first time ever, the San Francisco Public Library would throw teens an exclusive after-hours party. On the evening of October 16, the Main Library would be open for teens only. All adults would have to be accompanied by a teen. Presented in partnership with LitQuake, TeenQuake is a total takeover of the Main Library featuring a young adult author panel, emcee battle, teen performances in poetry, dance, and music, along with writing workshops, a scavenger hunt with prizes, and more.

    The following evening, WritersCorps teachers would read during Litquake. This year, they would be reading during Lit Crawl, an evening of readings that take place all over the Mission District.

  4. Arts Education Report
    Ms. Takayama said staff was working with the Arts Providers Alliance of San Francisco to host the annual Arts Education Resource Fair on October 14. While the event used to be at City Hall, the move to the African American Art and Culture Complex had worked well in recent years and the event would continue to be held there.

    She also reported on the Department of Public Works pilot project, Where Art Lives. This is the anti-graffiti project which places teaching artists in elementary school classrooms. A teaching artist will be hired before the end of October to teach at Jean Parker Elementary and Paul Revere Elementary, starting on November 10. The other participating schools (Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary, Bret Harte Elementary, McKinley Elementary, and John Muir Elementary) will begin in January and run through the spring.

    Ms. Takayama said that staff had been interviewing candidates for the education manager position and hoped to have a decision by the end of October with a mid-November start date.

  5. Cultural Center Report
    Ms. Takayama noted that the commissioners had copies of the Cultural Centers’ final reports with Ms. Nemzoff’s comments. Commissioner Calloway said there was not enough lead time to properly review them. Ms. Takayama said they will work towards distributing the reports earlier in the future.

    Ms. Takayama made a presentation comparing data from each center’s final report over three years.

    Ms. London Breed, executive director at the African American Art and Culture Complex ("AAACC") said that the tools SFAC uses to analyze the centers’ performance isn’t the best way to measure the centers’ success. She encouraged the commissioners to attend events at the centers to see their impact on the community.

    Commissioner Calloway noted that AAACC had done fundraising for programming and asked if that would be in conflict with Supervisor Daly’s legislation. Commissioner Draisin said it would be in conflict.

    Commissioner Draisin said the discussion of the final reports will continue at the next meeting when the commissioners could be more prepared.

    Commissioner Draisin began discussion about the Bayview Opera House’s ("BVOH") Management and Programming Plan ("MPP") and budget.

    Commissioner Calloway asked how long the building would be closed and Commissioner Young asked what improvements would occur. Barbara Ockel, interim managing director, said the building was closed for six months for exterior and interior renovations that would make the building more accessible by the neighborhood. These include: revamping the plaza, removing the fence and walls, supporting the balcony, and making the bathrooms accessible to people with disabilities.

    Commissioner Draisin said she was thrilled about the increased programming but was curious about why programs that were not art-related were happening. She said she supported any use of the building, but wanted to see SFAC money spent on cultural activities. Ms. Ockel said she wanted to get the Bayview community more involved in BVOH’s arts programming, and the first step was to get them in the door. She added that the YMCA was using BVOH for some of their activities and that across the street from BVOH was senior housing of primarily Chinese residents, so the Tai Chi classes might appeal to them.

    Commissioner Young asked how many artists were paid with the $65,000 noted in programming funds to artists. Ms. Ockel said the summer collaboration with Urban Services YMCA hired twelve artists and the current afterschool program employed six artists. She said BVOH would start a music program as she had discovered that there were very few music lessons or instrument rental opportunities in the Bayview.

    Commissioner Calloway asked what schools BVOH was involved with. Ms. Ockel said they reached out to schools in Bayview, Visitacion Valley, and Potrero Hill. Staff did outreach through a flyer approved by the school district, and they recruited when parents went to pick up their children. They also talked with teachers and principals. She added that while the afterschool program was underenrolled, the program was growing as the staff built relationships with the schools and child care centers.

    Commissioner Draisin asked for public comment.

    Jerald Joseph, a Bayview resident and BVOH board member, said he wanted to make sure that the BVOH budget would be approved. As part of the La Salle Heights Homeowners Association, he said BVOH was important to community. The homeowners association funded the Obama event at BVOH and felt the center should be supported and funded.

    Ron Saunders was also part of the La Salle Heights Homeowners Association. He was selected to do artwork for the new Bayview library. He said the programming had been incredible at BVOH last year. He witnessed events that drew in people from other neighborhoods, like films created by BAYCAT. He liked that people could see Bayview in a more positive light.

    Hellene Fried is a public art consultant and is advising the Redevelopment Agency on the Bayview Hunters Point Shipyard. She said BVOH is an important meeting space.

    Diane Gray grew up in Bayview and is now a homeowner. She reminisced on the fun she used to have at BVOH while growing up. She supports the organization today. As a Koshland Fellow for the San Francisco Foundation, she encouraged more art at BVOH and more collaborations. She said the programming seemed to be heading in that direction.

    Malik Seneferu said he was born and raised in Bayview and said BVOH was important to him when he was growing up because the diverse events that took place allowed him to envision a creative life. He added that many youth have no place to go and BVOH builds foundation for the creativity of youth. He encouraged the commissioners to attend events at BVOH in order to hold staff accountable.

    Felipe Paris said he’s the secretary on the BVOH board. He said that while two board members had resigned, two new young people joined the board. He said the board would be issuing an annual report to the community in an effort to have more transparency and accountability to the community.

    Jackie Cohen said she was one of the new board members. She said she became involved to make sure youth in the community could participate in arts programs since they had been cut in the schools. She joined the programming committee.

    Ross Rhodes is a Bayview resident. He said the commissioners held the key for the BVOH to bloom. He noted that the people in the room were stakeholders in BVOH and the Bayview community and added that what staff at BVOH does affects what happens on the streets. He closed by saying that there is talent in the Bayview but it’s not exposed to opportunities.

    Kristi Black-Solwazi, former managing director of BVOH, agreed that the arts are vital to the Bayview community. But she asked if this organization is the right one to be serving the community. Ms. Black said commissioners should make sure the programming is actually happening. She said that last year, the classes promised in the MPP did not occur. She also encouraged the commissioners to look closely at the records and compare the financial audits with the profit and loss report from the same period. She added that if the commissioners funded the center, they should stay involved with the center to know "what is real and what is just on paper." She closed by saying that the organization has been in a state of reorganization for ten years and felt that with SFAC funding, the organization wouldn’t make true changes.

    Vernon C. Grigg III, BVOH board president, encouraged the commissioners to pass the motion.

    Bridgette Renee LeBlanc said she’s a trained vocalist who first performed at BVOH. She supported youth programming at BVOH to get young people off the street. She said she hoped great things would happen at BVOH as London Breed was doing in the Western Addition.

    Christine Johnson introduced herself as a new board member. She said her interest was in preserving community institutions. She wanted to help with programming and with the budget. She felt that once they built a good organizational base everything else would follow.

    Commissioner Young thanked the public for their comments. She said the commission’s goal is to provide affordable and accessible arts to the community. She encouraged the public to continue sharing their feedback.

    Commissioner Calloway apologized for not attending events at BVOH in the last six months, but said he is advocating for them through his work in arts education. He said he was glad to see young people becoming involved in the leadership of the organization, an important issue for many nonprofit organizations to address.

    Commissioner Draisin thanked the public for their attendance. She said this meeting demonstrated a marked turning point in the organization and she appreciated the board sharing the challenges they have faced. She recommended funding the organization with the caveat that the commissioners pay attention to the organization’s health and make a commitment to attend events.

    Commissioner Draisin said the question is about identifying which is the right organization to run the building, and she thought that a year is not enough time to allow an organization to build capacity and to show the Commission has made the right decision. She said she saw progress over the past year and wanted to continue to support that progress.

    Commissioner Young made the following motion:
    Motion to approve the proposed 2009-2010 Management and Program Plan and budget for the Bayview Opera House, for a grant not to exceed $312,705, contingent upon completion of revisions and submissions.
    The motion passed unanimously.

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

  7. New Business
    Ms. Takayama reminded the commissioners about the launch of Art in Storefronts on Friday, October 23.

  8. Adjournment
    As there was no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 5:21 p.m.

10/28/09 RT