City and County of San FranciscoSan Francisco Arts Commission


January 8, 2002
4:30 P.M.
25 Van Ness, Suite 70

Commissioner Roth called the meeting to order at 4:40 P.M.

Commissioners Present
Denise Roth
Blanche Brown
Eddie Marshall
Ethel Walker

Commissioners Absent
Janice Mirikitani

  1. WritersCorps Update
    WritersCorps publications coordinator is currently researching methods for distribution and marketing of WriersCorps books. Concerns raised at the last meeting about the anthology's cost per book along with recommendations released by the publications coordinator will be shared at the February meeting. Ms. Heller confirmed that the collaboration with Sixth Street Photography does not add cost to the publication.

    January to June is WritersCorps' "season" of events and publications. The Youth Poetry Slam League is underway. January 25th will kick off a slam between Log Cabin Ranch and Center for Young Women's Development. She invited the Commissioners to participate in the slams as a judge or to meet the young performers. For many of the youth, this is their first time reading in public. Meeting someone with stature like an Arts Commissioner may be very meaningful to them.

    The slams are at four locations. The first one is at the Borders in Union Square at 400 Post, Friday the 25th at 7:00 p.m. The next one is at Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts on February 22. The third is at the Borders in Stonestown Mall on March 22. The final slam is at SomArts on April 5.

    WritersCorps is raising money to send youth to the D.C. slam event. From January 25-27, Borders is donating 15% of purchases made with a special voucher from three stores located at Emeryville, Stonestown, and Union Square. Ms. Heller hopes to raise $1,000 through this effort. We will have the vouchers this Friday and will distribute to the Commissioners.

    Our Martin Luther King Jr. free-write winner is Tashiana Jefferson, a sophomore at International Studies Academy. Her poem will be reproduced as a card and distributed at the MLK birthday rally at Civic Auditorium. She has been involved with writing since she was seven and is a big Terry McMillan fan. WritersCorps will present Ms. Jefferson with a signed copy of Ms. McMillan's latest book.

    The program continues with a two-day teacher training mini-institute on January 15 and 16. A Web refresh will be posted later this month. The anthology planning team is underway.

    In January, five youth interns were selected to work five hours a week on WritersCorps projects. They will each receive a $1,000 stipend over a six-month period. Some of the interns have been a part of the program since they were 11 years old. It's the first time WritersCorps is including youth in the operations of the program, which is seen as a positive step.

    Ms. Heller passed out copies of the WritersCorps evaluative report. The report will be distributed to funders, the advisory committee, and others interested in the program. The report includes an evaluation of WritersCorps' impact including eight essays from various WritersCorps perspectives (a student, a teacher at a site, two evaluative essays by Dr. Boler, and a first year WritersCorps teacher). The graphic designer who worked on the report donated her time and helped attain printing at a reduced rate.

  2. Chinatown Community Arts Update
    The San Francisco Arts Commission Chinatown Community Arts Program and the Melody Chorus Society will present "Spring Melody Concert 2002" on Saturday, January 12 and Sunday, January 13. The Saturday concert will take place at the First United Methodist Church, 6235 Hamilton Avenue in Palo Alto, starting at 7:30 p.m. The Sunday concert will take place at the Marina Middle School, 3500 Fillmore Street (near Chestnut) in San Francisco, starting at 7:00 p.m. Chinese and Western chorus performances will be featured in these concerts, as well as a solo performance by soprano Manhua Gao. Tickets are $15 and are available at the door.

    The gallery exhibit: Year of the Dragon, Four Seasons in the Life of Chinatown, San Francisco closes on January 19.

    The Chinese Spring Festival will be February 23 and 24 at the Chinese Culture Center.

  3. Arts Education Update
    The California Creativity Forum, an all day forum at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, will occur on January 23. Speakers will testify to the value of arts education, specifically around the newly adopted state and district standards. The theme is, "Art for every child, in every class, at every grade."

    January 30 and 31 is a two-day professional development training sponsored by the Arts Education Funders Collaborative for elementary school teachers and principals in the school district.

    Staff is waiting on announcing the arts education demonstration sites until the Superintendent's Office confirms the recommendation.

    AEFC will conduct their professional development workshops at the child development center in the spring.

    Today, staff held an application workshop for the Arts Education Organizational Grants. The deadline is February 1. Commissioner Roth asked how many people attended the workshop. Ms. Axel said that the attendance is low and a number of attendees were not eligible for the grant. It's a narrow guideline for arts education organizations where more than 50% of their budget/activities/programs are geared towards programs for youth in the schools or in City-owned facilities. Commissioner Roth asked if the grant is so narrowly defined, is the workshop necessary every year. Ms. Axel responded that the workshops are good for the public process, public input, and efficient answering of application questions.

    Commissioner Walker wondered if we could encourage organizations to adapt so that they fit our guidelines. Ms. Axel presented some background. The grant program was instituted four years ago because there was very little operational support for arts education groups. These organizations do not qualify for Grants for the Arts and Cultural Equity. It was instituted as a three-year pilot project and we will consider continuing the program beyond this year.

    The Youth Arts Festival is in its planning phase. This is a weeklong, City-wide youth arts festival from May 11-19. The Arts Education program will be more involved in its presentation this year than in the past.

    Saturday, February 2 from 9:00 a.m. - noon is the PTA sponsored Family Arts Day. This is an opportunity for families to attend art-making workshops with their children. The event will be at Enola Maxwell Middle School. In the past, the Arts Commission has supported Family Arts Day and we would like to continue this support.

    Commissioner Marshall made the following motion:
    Motion to approve a grant up to $3,000 from CAC funds to the Every Child Can Learn Foundation in support of the PTA's Family Arts Workshop.
    The motion passed unanimously.

    Commissioner Brown made the following motion:
    Motion to approve the following pool of panelists for Arts Education Organization Grant selection:
    Sheila Pressley, De Young Museum
    Jonathan Yorba, Center for the Arts
    Sheila Baumgarten, Koret Foundation
    Carol Kocivar, PTA
    Max Lantz, Youth Commissioner
    Benjamin Lockett, Youth Commissioner
    Myron Howard Johnson, Youth Commissioner

    The motion passed unanimously.

  4. Program Director Update
    Ms. Lerma reported that the Co-lab project is in production. This is a joint collaboration between the CAE and Gallery programs at the San Francisco Arts Commission and the Gallery and Intermedia Arts programs at San Francisco State University. There will be one exhibit in two locations: one at the San Francisco State Gallery and the other at the San Francisco Arts Commission Gallery and a Grove Street window installation. A Symposium will be held on March 9 at San Francisco State University.

    Ms. Lerma distributed a list of potential panelists for the PIC Program. She asked for recommendations for panelists from the CAE Commissioners.

    Nancy Gonchar's Report
    Ms. Gonchar reported that there is a Management and Programming Plan and budget that the staff can support, but there is disagreement on the budget.

    Ms. Gonchar started the discussion with background information. Mr. Newirth allocated this year's budget of $403,894 to AAACC. However, Mr. Edington submitted a budget without money for programming. Mr. Newirth suggested using part of last year's allocation to CAAAC to fund outstanding salaries to former CAAAC employees ($32,000) and this year's AAACC programming.

    Ms. Gonchar said this year's allocation for all four cultural centers, which was approximately $2.5 million, had been reduced by approximately $300,000 and there may be greater reductions. It is prudent to plan conservatively with half of the fiscal year to go without knowing how the fund will perform, if tourism will pick up, and how much will be available next year. Next year, the Controller's Office is only projecting $2.1 million ($2,185,416 which is $397,344 less than this year) for cultural center funding.

    AAACC's current budget of about $806,000 might drop to only $300,000 next year. We should also not expect very much capital funding. Despite the numerous facility improvements made to the center this year, we may need to replace the HVAC system next year ($95,000). Ms. Gonchar suggested we preserve some money from 2000-01 for 2002-03 with $100,000 reserved for capital expenses. Ms. Gonchar also cut some costs out of operations and facilities such as furniture as it can wait for next year and print and promotion because it's already covered in individual program budgets.

    This year, SFAC staff is recommending a budget of $774,000. Edington is recommending a budget of $806,000. Although this is not a big difference, it would be prudent to save money for next year, given the uncertainty of the performance of the Hotel Tax Fund.

    Commissioner Roth asked Mr. Edington to clarify what "expendable supplies" meant and what furniture did he want to purchase. He answered that expendable supplies are office supplies and he would buy new chairs and tables for the Hall of Culture.

    Mr. Edington's Report
    Mr. Edington gave his report and expressed some of his frustrations. He said he provided Mr. Newirth with a budget that primarily addressed improving the building's physical presentation after 12 years of deferred maintenance. After preparing and submitting this budget, he was told that the budget needed to include programming.

    If you include this year's money, last year's $400,000, and capital money set aside, there is roughly $1 million+ on the table for this fiscal year. The fiscal sponsorship fee was negotiated down from 10% on the first $200,000 to 5% for the remaining money transferred. Mr. Edington identified additional expenses wasted in that his salary is over $90,000 because he's a City employee.

    Mr. Edington objected to the Arts Commission micromanaging the facility by determining who does studies, who works at the center, who manages the theater, and what kind of programs should happen in the center. He said in this situation, he becomes a gate keeper and money manager and not a director. He complained that the latitude that has been given to the site to make decisions is very limited. The assistance came late and the rules kept changing.

    Ms. Gonchar reminded Mr. Edington that he is a City employee and, as such, works closely with Arts Commission management. Just like all Arts Commission employees, he reports to the Arts Commission.

    Mr. Edington said that he wanted some money to program projects generated from AAACC, but there wasn't money available because $125,000 went to the Curatorial Committee. Mr. Edington wanted $80,000 for AAACC initiated programming and another $50,000 for community programming. This was cut to $50,000 for AAACC programming and $40,000 for community programming with extensive restraints on how the money would be given for collaborative programming. Mr. Edington felt that $50,000 for onsite programming out of an $800,000 budget was a gross disparity. He asked, "How do you run programs and revitalize the center when the restrictions on the budget for site created activities are onerous?"

    Ms. Gonchar reminded Mr. Edington that all programming approved was AAACC programming. The Curatorial Committee was advisory and designed to assist Mr. Edington in his efforts. There should be no distinction made between AAACC programming, community programming, and curatorial programming. All programs encompass all of these contituencies.

    Mr. Edington felt uncertain that unspent money from this year's budget would carry over to the next year. Ms. Gonchar responded that there are different categories of City funds, each designated in different ways based on legislation. The money Mr. Edington was referring to is designated as a continuing fund, which means it automatically carries forward into the next fiscal year. It stays in the Arts Commission's account and the Commission decides how it should be spent.

    Commissioner Walker asked for clarification. "Originally $430,000 was allocated to the previous center. If they had used that money, it would have been all gone, but when they didn't use it, it went back to the Arts Commission?" Commissioner Marshall asked, "Can the cultural center appeal for that money?"

    Ms. Gonchar responded that $430,000 was initially approved for AAACC from FY 2001-02 funds. Ms. Gonchar explained the process. An organization submits an MPP to determine the budget. We haven't received this plan until now. We started with an initial draft budget. Mr. Edington interjected that it was his understanding for two months that it was a legitimate budget for the fiscal year, endorsed by Mr. Newirth. Ms. Gonchar agreed that Mr. Newirth approved the first budget Mr. Edington submitted.

    Ms. Gonchar continued. We've made a year's funding available to AAACC ($430,000) and $500,000 was transferred to Intersection for the Arts for Mr. Edington's use. All we wanted to do with the FY 2000-2001 funds was pay off the unpaid salaries and allow for current year programming. In addition, some expenses were moved over because Mr. Edington had exceeded the budget approved by Mr. Newirth.

    Mr. Edington said that he has no doubt that AAACC could generate income that would match the SFAC grant amount and have the center running with a $1million budget within two years. However, he said that if we continue to "muddle along" with facility improvements, it would take three years to reach this level.

    Ms. Gonchar objected to the phrase "muddle along." She said the Arts Commission committed $180,000 in capital money to the center and provided money for a one-year budget to bring on staff and contractors and improve facilities. Up until now, the Arts Commission has done everything Mr. Edington has recommended. The only difference in the Proposed and Recommended budget is conservation. Ms. Gonchar feels strongly that we should retain $100,000 to be put into next year's budget (2002-2003) since a loss in revenues of the Hotel Tax is certain. Mr. Edington does not have a track record yet to show that he can raise money. Everyone agreed that the focus would be on improving the facility this year.

    Commissioner Walker clarified that renovating the entire building would cost millions of dollars. The repairs reflected in the budget are repairs for which we have funding. Once these are finished, the building will be much more habitable. There was discussion about the center's currently operating HVAC system. Ms. Gonchar has placed $100,000 on reserve for heating system repairs and other potential emergencies.

    Ms. Lerma noted that the difference between the two budgets is whether we spend or save money this year. Ms. Lerma supported Ms. Gonchar's conservative approach. We may need a new HVAC system.

    Commissioner Roth took public testimony. Mr. Jack Davis, executive director of Somarts, expressed empathy for Mr. Edington's situation because he's wearing two hats. Mr. Edington is both a City employee and a center director. Since he has to follow the rules of the Arts Commission and City, it makes it difficult for him to wear the hat of a director. Mr. Davis said the Arts Commission wisely passes grant money on to selected non-profits to operate the centers because it wants an overview and assurance that the money will be spent in an approved manner, but they do not want to manage the day to day operations. If the center is a City agency, you have to operate under the laws of the City. All the other centers have steady operations. Their own board and staff make decisions. Mr. Davis said the Arts Commission staff is acting as the center staff and board and making operation decisions for a building that they do not occupy. He said the sooner the center becomes an independent non-profit that is in touch with the community's needs, the sooner many of these complications will end.

    Ms. Gonchar said when the center is more stable we will begin an RFP process to find a non-profit to run the center.

    Idris Ackamoor with Cultural Odyssey and chairman of the Curatorial Committee spoke and is very excited about the season shaping up for AAACC. He said that a limited amount of productions will go a long way to establish the center in a positive light. There will be five productions from the Curatorial Committee. The first presentation is First Contact, opening February 28 and runs through March 2, featuring emerging artists (Aya de Leon, Oscar McFarlan, and other young artists). The African American Shakespeare Company will present a hip-hop version of MacBeth for two weeks. Edris Cooper and the Black Artist Cultural Exhibition is coming in with a new Robert Alexander play for two weeks. Afro Solo will present part of their festival at AAACC. We have the potential of having some of the most exciting, professional, emerging and established African American arts organizations occupying the center for periods of time. Arts Monthly, Theater Bay Area, and KQED are doing stories on the upcoming AAACC season.

    Mr. Charles Gibson-McClinton spoke. He sited a July 20, 2001 memo from Mr. Newirth where he allocated $125,000 to the Curatorial Committee he appointed without community input. Mr. Gibson-McClinton called this Curatorial Committee an abomination and an imposition on African American art by Mr. Newirth. He also expressed concern with the claims that this situation is temporary. He asked why a board and advisory board is not in place. He called the Curatorial Committee clandestine and asked the Commission to start an investigation in a potential conflict of interest. He would like to see the Curatorial Committee shut down until the investigation is over. He will submit a letter to the Commission.

    Mr. Thomas Simpson, executive director of Afro Solo and a new resident to the center, said that by working with Mr. Edington and Ms. Byrde, he sees the potential of an exquisite beehive of activity. In addition to the presentations Mr. Ackamoor mentioned, there will be gallery exhibitions, and community advisory committee ideas. He is looking forward to moving the process forward.

    Commissioner Roth closed public testimony and made a motion to approve the SFAC Staff Recommended budget. She said she believes we should prepare for a very disappointing 2002-2003 budget year based on this year's Hotel Tax revenues.

    Commissioner Marshall asked if there are other income sources should the center have a big deficit. Mr. Edington replied that if the center operates along the lines that he envisions, the center could double their revenues next year through parking lot revenue, activity in the theater, the gallery, cultural hall rentals, and other income generating programs.

    Ms. Gomez reiterated that we will be putting out an RFP for a non-profit to run the center. She asked, "Is it fair to leave them in a position without a safety net?" It might take years to bring the center up to speed.

    Commissioner Marshall made the following motion:
    Motion to approve the SFAC Staff Recommended AAACC 2001-2002 Management and Programming Plan and Budget from Cultural Center Line Item Hotel Tax Funds.
    A discussion followed.

    Commissioner Brown said that as much as she would like to offer Mr. Edington all the money that he wants, she thinks we need to save money for next year. Commissioner Walker said she has problems not accepting Mr. Edington's proposed budget. She asked at what point does the main problem get solved, which is not the difference between the budgets, but that no one on site at the center has power.

    The motion passed unanimously.

    Ms. Gonchar reported that we have discussed issuing an RFP, but the timing has not yet been determined. The City owns the building and leases it to a non-profit entity, so we have to issue an RFP to conduct a public process. Mr. Edington asked why couldn't a provisional non-profit agency be structured that operates like the other centers. Ms. Lerma reiterated that the City Attorney's office has recommended that the SFAC conduct an RFP process.

    Commissioner Brown made the following motion:
    Motion to grant up to $202,000 to Intersection for the Arts, for continued support as fiscal sponsor of the African American Arts and Culture Complex.
    The motion passed unanimously.

    There was no new or old business. Commissioner Roth adjourned the meeting at 6:10 P.M.

    Next Meeting

    February 12, 2002, 4:30 P.M. at Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts, 2868 Mission Street, San Francisco


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