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Meeting Information


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April 14, 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: Ninive Calegari, Maya Draisin, Sherene Melania, Sherri Young, John Calloway

Staff Present: Community Arts and Education Program Director Judy Nemzoff, Community Arts and Education Program Associate Robynn Takayama, WritersCorps Project Manager Janet Heller, Cultural Equity Grants Program Associate Lucy K. Lin, Cultural Equity Grants Program Associate Weston Teruya.

  1. Cultural Equity Grants Program Director's Report
    Ms. Lin organized for the committee a sampling of projects from applicant organizations recommended for funding by the Organization Project Grants panel. The artistic work by Stepology, Cutting Ball Theater, Margaret Jenkins Dance Company, Arab Cultural and Community Center, BAYCAT and Intersection for the Arts were presented at the meeting to represent the diversity and quality of work being funded.

    Following the presentations, Commissioner Calegari inquired about the eligibility of artist Margaret Harrison's project at Intersection for the Arts, regarding her location of residence. Ms. Lin responded that the artist travels between Britain and San Francisco. The eligibility requirement applies to the applicant organization, Intersection for the Arts, that is based in San Francisco and conducts its public activities in San Francisco. Commissioner Calegari wondered about that aspect when reviewing the project summaries of applicants. Ms. Lin added that organizations funded by the Arts Commission have proposed projects not only collaborating with international artists, but also bringing local San Francisco artists to a broader international audience.

    Commissioner Calegari said she wished she could see more of the artistic work because the work samples shown were mesmerizing. She referred to both the work by Margaret Jenkins Dance Company and the Arab Cultural and Community Center. She asked if the work is shown at the panel reviews. Ms. Lin affirmed that up to four minutes of work samples per applicant are shown during the review of each application.

    Commissioner Draisin asked for public comment.

    Commissioner Calloway made the following motion:
    Motion to approve recommendations to award forty-three grants totaling $525,000 in the 2008-2009 cycle of Organization Project Grants to the following organizations, and to authorize the Director of Cultural Affairs to enter into grant agreements with each for the amounts listed:

    AfroSolo Theatre Company, $13,500
    Arab Cultural & Community Center, $12,000
    ArtSpan, $12,000
    Asian Improv Arts, $12,000
    BAYCAT, $12,000
    Chhandam Chitresh Das Dance Company, $12,000
    Circo Zero, $12,000
    Climate Theater, $13,500
    CounterPulse, $13,500
    Cuba Caribe, $13,500
    Cutting Ball Theater, $12,000
    Cypress String Quartet/Cypress Performing Arts Association, $12,000
    DanceArt, Inc, $12,000
    Dancing Tree, $12,000
    Earplay, $12,000
    Epiphany Productions, $12,000
    Femina Potens, $12,000
    Genryu Arts, $13,500
    Golden Thread Productions, $12,000
    Intersection for the Arts, $13,500
    Janice Garrett and Dancers, $12,000
    Jess Curtis/Gravity, $12,000
    Joe Goode Performance Group, $13,500
    Litquake, $12,000
    Margaret Jenkins Dance Company, $13,500
    Museum of Craft & Folk Art, $12,000
    Na Lei Hulu I Ka Wekiu, $12,000
    New Langton Arts, $12,000
    PlayGround, $12,000
    Root Division, $12,000
    San Francisco Cinematheque, $12,000
    San Francisco Independent Film Festival, $6,540
    San Francisco Live Arts, $12,000
    San Francisco Mime Troupe, $13,500
    Scott Wells and Dancers, $12,000
    ShadowLight Productions, $12,000
    Shinichi lova-Koga/inkBoat, $12,000
    Small Press Traffic Literary Arts Center, $12,000
    Southern Exposure, $12,000
    Stepology, $13,500
    The African & African American Performing Arts Coalition, $12,000
    The ESP Project: Erika Chong Shuch Project, $11,460
    The San Francisco Silent Film Festival, $12,000

    The motion passed unanimously.

  2. Community Arts & Education Director's Report
    Ms. Nemzoff reported on the progress of the Arts Education program.

  3. Arts Education Report
    The committee's work focused on arts education for the day. At February's committee meeting, Commissioner Melania requested a presentation from the Visual and Performing Arts ("VAPA") office of the San Francisco Unified School District ("SFUSD") so that the committee could be kept informed about the current work and any anticipated changes in either funding or programming for next year. Susan Stauter, Artistic Director of the SFUSD, and Antigone Trimis, Implementation Manager of the Arts Education Master Plan ("AEMP"), both from the VAPA office, gave an informal presentation and provided an opportunity to answer questions. Jessica Mele, Advocacy Chair of the Arts Providers Alliance of San Francisco ("APASF"), presented findings from their survey. For background information, Ms. Nemzoff re-distributed the arts education program strategy which was written in spring 2007 and forms the basis of the Arts Commission, VAPA and Arts Providers Alliance programming over the past two years.

    Ms. Trimis thanked the Arts Commission for the strong partnership through the years, especially with the Arts Education Manager and Ms. Nemzoff. This partnership goes back to the days of initiating the Arts Education Master Plan, which has become a model for the nation and has been presented internationally. Ms. Nemzoff reminded Commissioners that, along with the Walter and Elise Haas Fund, the Arts Commission was a primary funder of the Arts Education Master Plan.

    Ms. Trimis reminded commissioners that the AEMP was translated into Spanish and Chinese, paid for in large part by the Arts Commission. AEMP launched in 2006. Mayor Newsom was present at the launch, along with President Johnston; and the School Board vetted and approved the AEMP.

    Susan Stauter stated that the reason the AEMP includes literary arts is thanks to Ms. Nemzoff and Rachelle Axel and this inclusion is part of what makes the AEMP a national model that the country will turn to.

    Ms. Nemzoff explained that Prop H funding, approved by the voters in 2006, is what has allowed the AEMP to happen. All program plans and goals are paid for by Prop H funds. Due to this funding and the AEMP, the VAPA office has been able to hire full-time credentialed art teachers as part of the AEMP.

    Ms. Trimis stated that arts education is part of arts in SFUSD as a whole. It is a blueprint, approved by the board, and insures that the arts are part of the curricular day. The goal is to have standards-based, sequential education. Partnerships are critical to the AEMP's success. As an example, the Arts Education Assistant at the Arts Commission disseminates information about professional development and serves as a link between the district teachers and the Arts Providers Alliance.

    Explaining how Prop H funds are approved, Ms Trimis explained that Prop H funds only support SFUSD programs. The VAPA office presents annual budget recommendations to the AEMP Advisory Committee in the fall for proposed spending in the next fiscal year.

    Commissioner Calloway said that Prop H brings artists from the community, doing non-traditional art forms that are more relevant to the kids they're serving. These artists are brought in by each school site, which has discretion as to how they want to spend their Prop H per-pupil allocation, not through the VAPA office.

    Commissioners and Ms. Trimis addressed the dearth of experience of principals and teaching staff in the arts, which affects their support of the arts in the classroom.

    Commissioner Calegari asked about high-quality professional development. Ms. Trimis mentioned several organizations as well as the work the VAPA office does in professional development. She also said that Young at Art is a professional development opportunity.

    Commissioner Melania asked what Ms. Trimis' concerns are with the current economic climate. Ms. Trimis said she was happy that they were able to maintain the majority of their work, although they did have to take a 25% reduction in the next fiscal year. She stressed the importance of maintaining relationships with community partners and SFAC that the Arts Education Master Plan stays in the awareness of the Supervisors. She said when there's less money, the arts seem to be cut more easily.

    Ms. Nemzoff then introduced Jessica Mele with the Performing Arts Workshop and advocacy chair of the Arts Provider Alliance.

    Ms. Mele reminded Commissioners that Director Cancel asked to hear from members of the arts education community after the decision to eliminate the arts education position was rescinded in order to understand what their priorities were for the position. Therefore, the Arts Providers Alliance surveyed their membership. They sent copies of the survey to CAEG Commissioners and members of the Arts Education Funders Collaborative. Approximately 100 surveys were sent out, with 26.

    The results showed three main areas of concern for the Arts Education Program Manager position: 1) represent arts education at the table where the arts are usually neglected, (SFUSD, DPW, DCYF); 2) serve as main hub of arts education in San Francisco, and 3) connect San Francisco youth to SFAC programs and collections. She then summarized the skills they'd like to see the next Arts Education Program Manager have: 1) strong arts advocacy skills in non-arts settings, 2) strong relationship-building skills and knowledge of the San Francisco arts community, and 3) curriculum development experience.

    During a meeting with Director Cancel, he suggested the elimination of the publication of Inside/Out, but the community opposed this idea. Director Cancel has stated that he will make a commitment to honor the community's request for another publication.

    Commissioner Melania asked when the position will be filled. Ms. Nemzoff said that she has drafted a job description which is being reviewed by Director Cancel, who is meeting with representatives of the arts education community prior to posting a job announcement. After a meeting scheduled with members of the Arts Education Funders Collaborative the last week of April, the job announcement should be ready to post by early to mid-May.

  4. WritersCorps Report
    Ms. Heller announced that the spring reading series would launch at City Lights and continue with different literary organizations in the Bay Area, including a reading at UC Berkeley with Poetry for the People and at 826 Valencia. The series closes with a debut performance in the Queer Arts Festival. The reading series honors WritersCorps teachers.

    Ms. Heller summarized the press WritersCorps had received, which included an article in the San Francisco Examiner, a review in the New York Times, and public radio coverage. Also, Tell the World is reaching librarians across the country.

    Commissioner Melania congratulated WritersCorps.

    Ms. Heller then gave an update on WritersCorps financials. She said the program received $60,000 from the National Endowment for the Arts and there is a pending grant with the Lurie Foundation. All of the teachers are returning, but the program is underfunded for next year. She said she hoped that by June, funding would be secured to hire two new teachers and bring the staff back up to six teachers and to a fully funded training component of the program.

    Commissioner Calegari asked how much cash was in the bank. Ms. Heller said none.

    Ms. Nemzoff said that although there was significantly less money to fund this program than in the past, she had received assurances from the Budget Office that the program would be supported.

  5. Cultural Center Report
    Ms. Nemzoff said staff is aggressively applying for stimulus money for the Cultural Centers. She noted that there is a lot of money for energy projects, so staff submitted proposals for new roofs, solar panels, HVAC systems, and other amenities that build capacity at the four Cultural Centers. She thanked the team, which included Tom Petersen, Rachelle Axel, and other CAE staff.

    Commissioner Calegari applauded this forward thinking.

    Ms. Nemzoff said she is waiting until the last minute for a report on next year's Hotel Tax Fund. Although the Controller's Office said it should be level, Ms. Nemzoff has heard other information. She said the Cultural Centers' Management and Programming Plan and Budgets are due in May.

    Ms. Nemzoff said the Programs in the Communities panel will be May 1.

    Ms. London Breed, director at the African American Art and Culture Complex ("AAACC") gave an update on the building's renovation. She said that what started as an $80,000 project has turned into a $1.5 million project. She said the Center will be accessible for the disabled and look like an art center with all the improvements made. AAACC staff will move back to the building June 1 and the tenants will move back June 8. The grand reopening will be July 16.

    Ms. Breed suggested that other Cultural Centers pursue funds from the Mayor's Office of Disability ("MOD"). Ms. Breed said that SFAC owes gratitude to Susan Mizner and John Paul Scott of MOD for moving this project forward.

    Ms. Nemzoff said that SFAC did have MOD funds for SomArts and Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts, but the funds have been withdrawn by MOD.

    Mr. Vinay Patel, interim director of the Asian Pacific Islander Cultural Center, said their annual festival would start in May. The grand opening is May 7 and the calendar of events is at the printer. The programming will be at SomArts and throughout the city, including some of the Supervisors' offices.

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

  7. New Business
    Commissioner Calegari announced a fundraiser for 826 National, which includes a breakfast with Gus Van Sant, director of Milk.

  8. Adjournment
    As there was no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 5:40 p.m.

4/28/09 RT