Community Investments Committee - July 14, 2015 - Minutes

Meeting Date: 
July 14, 2015 - 1:00pm
25 Van Ness Ave Ste 345
San Francisco, CA 94102
Tuesday, July 14, 2015
1:00 p.m.
25 Van Ness Avenue, Suite 70
The meeting was called to order at 1:12 p.m.
1. Roll Call
Commissioners Present:
Charles Collins, Ad Hoc Chair
Abby Sadin-Schnair
Janine Shiota
Commissioners Absent:
Sherene Melania, Chair
Marcus Shelby
Staff Present: Tom DeCaigny, Judy Nemzoff, Barbara Mumby, Melissa Hung, Cristal Fiel
2. Public Comment
Commissioner Collins called for public comment. There was none.
3. Community Investments Director Report
Community Investments Program Director Judy Nemzoff deferred her report to Director of Cultural Affairs Tom DeCaigny. 
Mr. DeCaigny announced the million-dollar increase to the Cultural Equity Endowment Fund proposed in the Mayor’s budget. He said that the Board of Supervisors was very gracious in their support of the recommendation and that they would soon vote on approval of the budget, and that the increase would be part of the base grants budget moving forward. He said he was hopeful that it would make up for the lost cost of doing business over the years. Mr. DeCaigny also announced that the San Francisco Arts Commission (“SFAC”) has received the largest amount of add back funding from the Mayor’s budget in history. The add back money would be awarded through a new request for proposals structure that the Community Investments team has been working on over the past year. 
Commissioner Collins called for public comment. There was none. 
4. WritersCorps Teaching Artists Contracts 
Ms. Nemzoff said that these teaching artists are returning and have been with the program for three years or more. WritersCorps would be at a minimum of nine different locations in the 2015-2016 fiscal year (“FY”). Also, Ms. Nemzoff said that WritersCorps was expanding its relationship with the San Francisco Public Library’s teen center, The Mix, and the WritersCorps teaching artists would hold their office hours in the center. She added that WritersCorps was amidst an assessment of how its transition would go following this year. 
Commissioner Collins gave the following motion:
Motion: Motion to authorize the Director of Cultural Affairs to enter into contract with the following teaching artists to work in the WritersCorps program for 2015-2016 in amounts not to exceed the following:
Madeleine Clifford, $42,000
Minna Dubin, $31,000
Roseli Ilano, $29,000
Sandra Garcia, $35,000
Anne Rovzar, $42,000
Harold Terezon, $42,000
Moved: Shiota/Schnair
Public Comment: There was none.
The motion was passed unanimously. 
5. 2015-2016 Grant Guidelines
Senior Program Officer Barbara Mumby gave an overview of the changes to the 2015-2016 grant guidelines. She stated that the changes took into consideration feedback from sources including the research and focus groups held by Dr. Anh Thang Dao-Shah, the annual grants community meeting, Arts for a Better Bay Area (“ABBA”) meetings, and others. 
Ms. Mumby said that this year there would be one deadline, and that moving forward and once there was an online grants management system in place, the grants team would reevaluate this. Another change was that there would be one aggregate funding recommendation to the committee, which would include demographic data about the applicants and recommended grant recipients. Demographic data would be collected through a survey following submission of the application, rather than part of the application form. She said that collecting demographics was problematic on multiple fronts, such as not getting clean data. The grants team has also been working on right-sizing the grant applications. Also, for smaller grant categories like the Arts for Neighborhood Vitality (“ANV”) and Native American Arts and Cultural Traditions (“NAACT”) mini grant, there would be a staggered deadline of three times a year. 
Another change is that there would be standardized grant windows across all categories that matched up to the fiscal year calendar. This year, the grant cycle would start on May 1, 2016. Additionally, the sit out period would be standardized to one cycle on, one year off. The sit out period would allow grantees who have a backlog of previous grants to catch up, as well as open the pool for more new grant award recipients. 
Ms. Mumby clarified that for the two-year Cultural Equity Initiatives Level One (“CEI L1”) and Level Two (“CEI L2”) grants, the standard sit out period would still be one cycle on, and one year off, rather than two years off. Mr. DeCaigny added that the new $1 million coming in from the Cultural Equity Endowment Fund would allow the SFAC to run the program every year. 
Ms. Mumby said that the default clause of SFAC grants now included some of the organizations or City departments that we co-fund with, including the Northern California Grantmakers Arts Loan Fund; Department of Children, Youth and Their Families (“DCYF”); Office of Economic and Workforce Development (“OEWD”); Center for Cultural Innovation; and others. Mr. DeCaigny said that this clause was particularly related to the Arts Loan Fund’s nonprofit displacement mitigation fund. 
Another change was increasing the budget cap to $1.1 million from $1 million to support the organizations whose budget sizes could exceed or not exceed $1 million year to year. Commissioner Schnair asked whether there was a deep analysis done about this increase. Ms. Mumby said that there was not a deep analysis, but that it would be worth looking at.
Ms. Mumby continued that the staff has worked very hard on trying to align all the grant categories’ scoring criteria with questions asked in the application, and that the application would now show the weight of the score for each question or section of the application. In this way, the applicants would see the purpose behind each of the application components they would submit. She added that the applicants would also have to address the SFAC’s value of cultural equity.
Commissioner Collins asked if the staff had consulted with the City Attorney regarding demographic data collection. Ms. Mumby said that the demographic data collection was optional and that she hoped the follow up supplemental survey following application submission would allow for a deeper analysis. Commissioner Collins commented that it would be difficult to know if the SFAC was moving toward achieving cultural equity if there was not enough information about demographics. 
Ms. Mumby continued that the Individual Artist Commissions (“IAC”) grant was being increased to up to $15,000. She said the NAACT grant would be aligned with the other grant categories from the Cultural Equity Endowment Fund. For example, when applying for IAC, a Native American individual artist would use the same IAC application and mark of NAACT-IAC to be considered for that category. For the Creative Spaces (“CRSP”) grant, a $50,000 planning grant was being put aside to plan for the acquisition of a Native American Cultural Center. She added that the team heard the feedback that the eligibility definition for NAACT was too broad, so it has been specified to be intended for North American indigenous tribes and those within the United States jurisdiction. 
Ms. Mumby moved on to say that the Organization Project Grants (“OPG”) were being increased for an amount up to $20,000 and that the grant panel review’s recommendations would be based on organization size. Also, organizations could use the funding for general operating expenses, although they would still have to clear project deliverables. 
For CRSP, the subcategories were being simplified to planning and facilities and the amounts were increasing $50,000 for planning and $50,000 or $100,000 for facilities. Mr. DeCaigny said that with the increased funding amount, he hoped CRSP could now fund an entire project as opposed to different phases of one project. 
Commissioner Shiota asked how projects would be monitored. Ms. Mumby said that the work of the program officers was shifting from heavy administration of the intake of grant applications and award process, to monitoring the grant projects throughout the grant cycle. 
For CEI, the guidelines were being revised so that CEI L1 was no longer a perquisite of CEI L2. Instead, CEI L1 would be a grant award of up to $50,000 over two years for organizations with budgets $400,000 and below. CEI L2 would be a grant award of up to $100,000 over two years for mid-size organizations with budgets between $400,000 and $1.1 million. 
Ms. Mumby said that the Arts and Communities in Partnership (“ACIP”) grant was being expanded to include high quality arts education as a funding goal. Commissioner Collins asked how high quality was being measured. Ms. Nemzoff said that the SFAC would look to the guidelines of the San Francisco Unified School District (“SFUSD”) for in-school arts education, and the Wallace Foundation’s report on promising practices for out-of-school and after-school arts education. 
Ms. Mumby said that the online grants management system would not be rolled out with the new grant applications, as the contracting process was taking longer than anticipated. Instead, there would be a beta test rollout in time for the first round of the staggered grants deadline for ANV, NAACT mini grant, and Supervisorial add backs. Mr. DeCaigny said that by combining ANV and NAACT mini grants with the add backs, there was a structural vehicle where applicants would know that they were offered three different times per grant cycle. It was a mechanism to keep the flexibility more open. 
Ms. Mumby said that the grant team was targeting early August as a deadline to release the guidelines and that the team was in the process of scheduling technical assistance workshops at the Cultural Centers and Bayview Public Library branch, since Bayview Opera House Ruth Williams Memorial Theater was closed during construction. 
The committee talked about the outreach strategy of the technical assistance workshops and making sure that the word was reaching to those communities that needed to be targeted. Ms. Mumby said that the grants team has been very invested in the process and thoughtful about designing and streamlining the guidelines and applications. 
Commissioner Collins asked how often the committee would have a chance to see this sort of review, since the grants team was also working on implementing. Ms. Mumby said there would be multiple avenues to engage feedback, whether it was through a survey or the annual grants meeting. She said there would be an opportunity to revisit the guidelines every year, since it was a fluid document that could change based on community need. Mr. DeCaigny said that the annual grants meeting would be a place where the SFAC can report on the outcomes of the funding cycle, as well as committee meetings. He added that the SFAC was looking at the model of DCYF where they require the executive director of every grant recipient to attend an annual meeting.
Commissioner Collins called for public comment. 
Public Comment:
Jeff Jones, Queer Cultural Center: Hello Mr. Collins. It’s been many years since we’ve met on the commission that founded the Cultural Equity Grants program. That was 25 years ago. I must say that I’m very happy with many of the recommendations that you’re making, but I do want to go back to the original purpose of the Cultural Equity Grants program. As you remember, this grants program was not designed for everyone. It was designed to solve a problem and that problem was cultural discrimination. It was no discussion about anything else. The Cultural Equity Grants program was established by an ordinance. It was not a resolution. It was an ordinance that the Supervisors passed and they did that specifically so that it could not be picked apart. The problem that it was trying to solve was discrimination. There were lots of statistics that Grants for the Arts simply did not fund people of color, queers, or women, for the most part. So it was not designed for everyone and I feel like several of these changes that we’re making here are to guarantee that the Cultural Equity Grants program is available to everyone. It was not set up that way and I don’t think it should be that way. As for the [Cultural Equity Initiatives] Level One and Level Two—this was the heart and soul of the Cultural Equity Grants program. It was designed to solve a problem. That problem was discrimination at Grants for the Arts and the solution was to set this up so that people of color and lesbian/gay organizations and disabled would have additional ways of accessing City funding and that many people could enter the Cultural Equity Grants program, and then enter Grants for the Arts. That was specifically achieved through Level One and Level Two. I’d just like to read you a list of the groups that went through one year of Level One, then you get a Level Two grant: Cultural Odyssey, First Voice, Galería de la Raza, the Queer Cultural Center, Brava, the luggage store, Dance Mission, Chinese History Museum, Lorraine Hansberry Theater, Zaccho Dance Company, Aunt Lute Books, Golden Thread, Lily Cai Dance Company, Frameline, Radar, Queer Women of Color Media Arts Project, Fresh Meat Productions, the Mexican Museum, and the Chinese Cultural Center. All of those organizations are stable. They are sustainable. Most of those groups were funded by the Bloomberg thing, thank you so much. If we look back here from where [Commissioner Collins] and I were sitting at those tables 25 years ago, we’ve come a long way. We have come a long way because of the Arts Commission. We’ve come a long way here specifically because of the Cultural Equity Grants program and my connection is that it was the Cultural Equity Initiatives Level One and Two. That is my primary concern here. So these two programs that have been responsible for creating a diverse and stable arts community in San Francisco that’s not like anywhere else. I’m really concerned that’s being picked apart here. Number one, the eligibility requirements for participating in Level One and Level Two were not based on rates. They were based on whether the City underserved certain communities. It was demonstrated that the City did in fact, statistically, underserved Blacks, Latinos, Asians, Native Americans, LGBT, disabled, and women. That was the criteria that could be used before. There’s even more statistical data on that right now that the Budget Analyst has put out that shows that problem was not corrected at Grants for the Arts and therefore the problem has not been corrected. Somehow, it feels to me that it’s in the eligibility requirement that you should be looking to guarantee that a majority of the individual artist grants go to people of color, queers, et cetera; that a majority of the OPG grants go there. What I saw the last round of OPGs was that now we were headed into the realm of chamber music ensembles that had, basically, all white audiences being funded by the Cultural Equity Grants program. That’s totally standing the program on its head because it was not designed for chamber music ensembles, except for chamber music ensembles that have people of color in their audience. If you’ve ever gone to many, then I am sure you know what that’s like. I would just urge you to really have an open mind here about how to look at this Cultural Equity Initiatives Level One and Two. While we heard that these other categories were going to increase in funding and Creative Spaces was going to be between 50 and 100 [thousand dollars], I didn’t hear anything about increases in this category. Could somebody illuminate that issue? 
Mr. DeCaigny suggested that the committee hear all the public comment first. He said he was making notes about what he was hearing and that there would be an aggregated response following all the public comment.
Jeff Jones: Thank you for listening. Like I said, I agree with many of the changes and it’s been 25 years. We needed this discussion and I’m really glad it’s happening before I retire.
Mary Jean Robertson, KPOO and Ohlone Profiles Project: Hi, my name is Mary Jean Robertson. I’ve been doing radio here in the city for 42 years on KPOO radio station, on a program called Voices of the Native Nations. When I was first starting radio I was also working with the American Indian Arts Workshop, which was housed in both the Mission Cultural Center and the South of Market Cultural Center. We had wonderful things called CETA [Comprehensive Employment and Training Act] grants and CAC [California Arts Council] grants and they were cushions for our people because Native Americans do not have access to the same funding sources that so many other people do. The only thing that I have a difficulty with in understanding is—you all have been doing really wonderful things, like funding Native American organizations and stuff like that. But, I still haven’t figured out how to make a wheel that goes all the way around. In other words, it always feels like there’s a flat on one of the wagon wheels so that we get to the second year, and then we have a year off. There’s always this feeling like we don’t have a consistent pattern of funding. Ya’ll are the only people that actually do a consistent level of funding for Native programming. So I just wanted to ask, or follow up with what the other guy said. What kind of things you have that we can have some feeling of not being cut off at the end of a grant program so that we can consistently have something going on in the Native community? That’s all I wanted to say.
Neil MacLean, Ohlone Profiles Project: There’s really a lot to celebrate here. You’ve done a tremendous amount of work. There’s a couple of things I don’t understand, which actually reflects on what Mary Jean was just commenting on—the continuity, especially that down period after CEI Level One seems a bit of chasm to easily fall through. Particularly, if it’s a capacity building where what’s supposed to be happening is you’re getting some sort of staff support, or some kind of ability to plan and be consistent, or to have an annual event that has consistent staff. Maybe I didn’t quite understand it, but if I did, that seems like a challenge. It was news to me what Jeff just mentioned that many of the previous organizations did a single Level One and then did a Level Two. Whereas, what I had picked up is the more common pattern would be one or two Level Ones, then some downtime, and then a Level Two, and then a couple of those. In other words, that compressed scenario would be welcome. The other aspect of that that was exciting also was that you mentioned you’re hoping to get more of the administrative stuff handled so that you can do more monitoring and support, which just cautionarily [sic] saying that the monitoring is a different thing. Support is really crucial and not always easy to get, so thank you for the efforts you make. So, I think that’s the majority of it. It mainly reflects on Mary Jean’s comment about how to do planning, especially for a small organization. Just to be specific, for example, our organization the Ohlone Profiles Project, we’re at a moment where we’re looking to empower and bring in many of the Native community leaders to have a larger stake in the organization. It’s difficult to say, “This is worth your time,” if there is no pattern that could be an ongoing development for them or their communities. There’s one concern I have, which is, as I still feeling much of an outsider, and sort of learned rumor-wise how decisions are made and how grants are obtained. One of the rumor things that I’ve heard is that very few grant writers actually turn out a majority of the received funding. That just concerns me from the perspective of—how are the applications actually evaluated? Are there sort of, I don’t know what to call them exactly, perhaps, standards of what the grant should look like which aren’t actually from the grassroots, but are in some way a part of a professionalization that doesn’t get communicated? This is part of the shutout, I think, for some of the Native organizations in particular. Again, really welcome your support. Thank you. I did have one other brief comment. Just because one of the very supportive organizations for us, World Arts West, I know did fall into that class that had earned just barely over a million [dollars]. The discussion I heard didn’t seem flexible enough to me, so I wanted to encourage you to be flexible about that because that would help us if they were supported by you. Thank you.
Kevin Seaman, Queer Cultural Center and Arts for a Better Bay Area: I’ll try to be brief because I know there has been a lot of a comment. My name is Kevin Seaman. I’m an individual artist and I was a recipient of the Individual Artist Commission for the last theater cycle. I’m also the general manager of the Queer Cultural Center, which is San Francisco’s LGBT Cultural Center. I was part of Arts for A Better Bay Area and I sat on the Arts Budget Coalition. I was so excited to see that there was finally an increase this year and I’m really excited about a lot of the positive changes that I think you’re implementing with the grants cycle. But, I’m also critical of a few of them because I think they could be detrimental to the community. Barbara, I heard you talk about when you were speaking about the one deadline how that would be a lot easier for staff to manage and for the Commission to review, but there isn’t thought process, I think, behind what would happens in the community for small organizations that might be working with a grant writer that’s not on staff. A lot of positions in small organizations are contracted out, so a lot of those positions are working with a wide variety of organizations. Having one deadline is going to put a huge stress on those types of people that are working with smaller capacity organizations. Specifically, thinking about how they’re applying to OPG and a Level One or Level Two and not knowing if they’re going to get either one, but having to put both of those in. Having a staggered approach for those might be better—to have the larger [grant programs] first, and then have the smaller ones for a later deadline. Barbara, I know you had thought that ideally it could be something that would roll over in the same application. I think that’s a great idea. However, what’s here could really cause a bottleneck in the community. I’m also worried that when the new system is implemented that will put that under stress as well. As a former grantmaker working with San Francisco Foundation when we put our new online system on, it crashed and burned because too many people were trying to access it all at once. So, having rolling deadlines for different grant categories will actually help the capacity of the portal to help handle those grants. The other thing I wanted to mention with the year on, year off plan, like the gentleman before me was saying, that’s really going to cause a yoyo affect in the community. A smaller organization focusing on capacity would no longer have those funds available. So really, I think the wagon wheel scenario where you’re going back up and down is really something to look at. Whether that’s the intention of the grant program to help smaller organizations achieve the bigger budget and to achieve broader impact, that’s something to really look at. Especially with those two year grants where you may have $100,000 over two years and suddenly that money evaporates and it’s not available to you, that that budget is going to be immediately back down. Perhaps there is some support to find other sources of funds, to bridge your funding would be really important to address that with the support that you’re suggesting. Also, I really wanted to note that with the IAC, there’s only a $5,000 increase there, whereas some of the other categories are going up by 100 or 200 percent. As part of the Arts Budget Coalition it was our recommendation to go up to $15,000, but it was also a recommendation to have all six categories every year. So just in a time when San Francisco artists are dwindling, people are fleeing, people are moving away, to have a deeper investment in artists is crucial because talent is leaving here and not contributing to the culture anymore because they want to be part of places where they can actually live. So, deeper investment specifically in individual artists is extremely crucial. In that same way, for the project grants that are now going to be uncategorized and flexible spending, is there any guarantee that the artists will actually get money from that? I’m really worried about the nonprofit industrial complex, as someone who works inside of it, of ensuring that artists are really seen as visible and being able to earn income from that. There’s a lot of overhead that happens in organizations, so how can we make sure that we’re seeing that dollars are going where they’re needed most. To my opinion, it’s with individual artists who are really struggling to stay in this city and keep it the vibrant place that we love. The other thing I just wanted to mention too, and Tom, I know you’ve had conversations with Jeff and Vinay [Patel, executive director of Asian Pacific Islander Cultural Center (“APICC”)] about the monitoring, and how I think overall it’s really about putting best practices into the field, although those best practices are sometimes developed with larger organizations with different capacity abilities. A lot of the smaller organizations—not a lot of the smaller organizations—specifically Queer Cultural Center and APICC, that work on contractor models are having a difficult time coming up with all of this documentation because there is hourly staff and there’s not a regular staff. That’s really difficult to do these best practices, which will help our organizations align with what the City thinks are best practices. But, it’s not aligned. It’s not rightsizing culturally-specific to what’s going on specifically with these organizations. And I know there’s already been conversation about how to work with that. 
Commissioner Collins called for further public comment. There was none.
Mr. DeCaigny said that there was a balancing act of how diverse an arts ecology the SFAC works in. He said that there were no definitive answers, but that the staff would think about all the comments and take that into their work moving forward. He said that the SFAC values that artists get paid, while offering flexibility of how money gets allocated in the OPG and CEI grant categories. He hoped that artist payment was one of the highlights of the budget. Furthermore, while the flexibility was more apparent in the implementation process, the projects should appropriately budget artist fees. 
Mr. DeCaigny also heard the tension between support and monitoring. He said that support was technical assistance, but monitoring was to make sure that the City dollars were being used in compliance. He said that grantee monitoring would be right-sized to the amount of money that the grantee was getting. 
He mentioned that the diversity of the grant review panels was a mechanism to ensure that the grants were being equitably distributed to high quality applicants and a broad base of organizations. Ms. Nemzoff added that in the panel review the categories are also being broken out so that small is competing with small and not with larger or more established organizations. 
Mr. DeCaigny said that he hoped that CEI would still support the organizations that were previously mentioned in public comment. The hope was to have a sustained level of funding for a two-year period. In the year off, the organization could apply for an OPG or other grant. He said that he was hearing that there was a desire for organizations to build capacity and learn how to scaffold through the grant programs. He said that there could be a follow-up survey to see whether the two-year cycle was a good or bad thing. 
Commissioner Shiota said that a part of capacity building would be to teach organizations about how to tap into other sources of funding. She added that part of the grant sit out period was trying to figure out how the organization could be stronger and not rely on just one source of funding. 
Ms. Mumby said that the changes that were reviewed were immediate, short term changes that were being implemented based on community feedback. She reminded everyone that there were long term goals that the grants team still needed to plan for and implement. She said that she would not want organizations or artists to drop off during that sit out period, but use that time for organizations to find additional funding, or plan for the next funding cycle. She said that she hopes the grants will build a strong community cohort throughout the grant period that included technical assistance and capacity building. She said there were growing pains, but she believed that the long term gains would outweigh the current growing pains. She said that this went for the Native community as well; by imbedding the NAACT category into the Cultural Equity Endowment Fund grant categories, there was a possibility of exceeding the funding set aside specifically for NAACT. 
Commissioner DeCaigny clarified that roughly $95,000 was set aside each year for NAACT, which comes from the Native American Cultural Center funding. However, with the aggregate funding recommendation and imbedding NAACT into the other grant categories, there was an opportunity to exceed it. 
Ms. Mumby said that the grants staff was fully aware that the Cultural Equity Endowment Fund was created for specific communities, and that judgement should be refrained until guidelines were released. She said that the team was really making an effort to ensure that the intent and purpose of the Cultural Equity Endowment Fund legislation was upheld throughout the entire process. She said there was some expected trial and error because the grant review panel makes the ultimate recommendation, but the grants team would continue to recalibrate to address cultural equity. 
Commissioner Shiota commented that flexibility might be necessary, since the definition of underserved might change. Mr. DeCaigny clarified that the legislation did specify communities and that underserved communities get a certain commitment of funding. He said that we would not look at just the composition of the staff or artists, but audience demographics as well. He said that there were a lot of challenges that Dr. Dao-Shah’s evaluation showcased, such as audience data. He also acknowledged that some organizations have more capacity to collect and report data than others. Then, the diversity of panelists would become really important to make sure that pluralistic decision makers were being heard.
Ms. Nemzoff reminded the committee that the intent and outcomes of the changes also included capacity building. The changes to the grant guidelines were a first step, and she hoped that in the next year there would be a build out of technical assistance and capacity building workshops for grantees and applicants throughout the year. 
Commissioner Collins concluded that the committee wanted to encourage good conversation at the meeting to make sure that everything has been heard. He also heard that it was important to get as much right as the agency could, and that the pace of all the changes was huge.
6. New Business and Announcements
Mr. DeCaigny said that the next round of financial assistance grants with the nonprofit mitigation fund would be announced in August and that the fund was continuing to be adapted to community needs. 
It was also announced that Commissioner Shelby was part of a show with performing artist Anna Deveare Smith that was opening later in the week at the Berkeley Repertory Theater.
7. Adjournment
There being no further business, the meeting adjourned at 2:53 p.m. 
CF - 7/28/2015 draft minutes posted
CF - 9/15/2015 minuted adopted

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