Community Investments Committee - June 2, 2015 - Minutes

Meeting Date: 
June 2, 2015 - 1:00pm
25 Van Ness Ave, 8th Flr Conference Rm
San Francisco, CA 94102


Tuesday, June 2, 2015
1:00 p.m.
25 Van Ness Avenue, 8th Floor Conference Room


The meeting was called to order at 1:06 p.m.

1. Roll Call
Commissioners Present:
Charles Collins (left at 2:17 p.m.)
Sherene Melania, Chair
Abby Sadin-Schnair (left at 2:58 p.m.)
Marcus Shelby
Janine Shiota

Commissioners Absent:

Staff Present: Tom DeCaigny, Rebekah Krell, Judy Nemzoff, Barbara Mumby, Robynn Takayama, Liz Ozol, Anh Thang Dao Shah, Alex Tan, Cristal Fiel

2. Public Comment
Commissioner Melania called for public comment. There was none made. 

Community Investments Program Director Judy Nemzoff told the committee that there was a new intern over the summer that would be working with American Council of Learned Societies (“ACLS”) Public Fellow in Policy and Evaluation Dr. Anh Thang Dao Shah on research and evaluation for the Cultural Centers. Dr. Dao Shah introduced Chelsea Samuel, who was a graduate student in Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley. 

3. Clement Street Neighborhood Mural
Ms. Nemzoff said that grant funding was from the Board of Supervisors Participatory Budget Process to fund a mural that reflects the inner Richmond neighborhood. Clement Street Merchants Association (“CSMA”) was recommended for the grant award, and their plan was to have a public process for the mural narrative and continued community feedback. The committee discussed their desire for the mural to tell the historical and multicultural narrative of the neighborhood, and to make sure it was not too narrow in focus. Mr. DeCaigny said that the mural would have to be approved by the Visual Arts Committee (“VAC”), which would be an opportunity for the commissioners to see the final design. Commissioner Melania asked whether the CSMA would be responsible for the maintenance of the mural. Ms. Nemzoff clarified that the mural would not be part of the City’s Civic Art Collection, since it would be painted on private property. The CSMA would make an agreement with the private property owner and it would be the responsibility of the property owner to maintain the mural. The committee requested to be notified about the design when it goes before VAC.

Commissioner Melania gave the following motion:

Motion: Motion to authorize the Director of Cultural Affairs to enter into grant agreement with the Clement Street Merchants Association for an amount not to exceed $25,000 to oversee the design, approval and installation of a large scale mural at 152 Clement Street, facing 3rd Avenue.
Moved: Schnair/Shiota
Public Comment: There was none made.
The motion was unanimously approved.

4. Overview of 2014-2015 Grants Cycle
Senior Program Officer Barbara Mumby gave a presentation of the outcomes of the 2014-2015 grant cycle (see explanatory document “FY2014-2015 SFAC Grant Cycle”). The committee discussed the large percentage of unspecified community focus. Dr. Dao Shah explained that community focus was assigned based on the staff’s review of the organization’s mission statement and grant project narrative. She was proposing to look at primary, secondary and tertiary community focus to account for intersectionality. Dr. Dao Shah added that the unspecified community focus category also potentially encompassed those who served multiple communities. In the new process of collecting data, there would be a difference between categorizing groups that served multiple communities from those that declined to state who they serve. 

Ms. Mumby then moved on to review the changes that would be made for the 2015-2016 grant cycle (see explanatory document “FY2015-2016 SFAC Grant Cycle Changes”). Director of Cultural Affairs Tom DeCaigny asked the committee what they thought of the increase to fund organizations with a budget size of $1.1 million or less. The committee suggested doing further research based on the cost of living increases to see where the cutoff would be most appropriate. Program Officer Robynn Takayama mentioned San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus as an example of an organization that has been priced out of the Arts Commission’s funding.

For changes to the Native grants, Commissioner Melania asked if large organizations that did not primarily focus on Native American arts could still be funded as presenters in this category. Ms. Mumby said that currently, the Yerba Buena Gardens Festival applied for and has received funding for being a presenter of Native American art. 

The committee then discussed the public panel process, and how the staff took great pride in curating a good panel. Commissioner Collins suggested that the staff test out the changes to the grant application and panel process with previous panelists before launching it. Ms. Nemzoff and Ms. Mumby commended the staff for their ownership of the guidelines and application revision process, and their commitment to the values of the grants program. 

The committee discussed the proposed $1 million increase to the Arts Commission’s grants, and how the Commission has prepared itself for the increase because of the strategic plan process. Mr. DeCaigny said that the grants team was addressing net grant as much as possible in the revision process. Since the increase came in real time, there was not time to prepare a deep analysis of where that money would go. The current plan was to put the additional funding toward increasing Individual Artist Commissions, Organization Project Grants, and Creative Space Grants. 

The committee discussed the importance of summarizing these changes into big buckets that aligned with the changes made as a result of the strategic plan, such as being more outward facing of the work of the Arts Commission, and responding to artists’ needs. 

Commissioner Collins left at 2:17 p.m. 

Commissioner Melania asked if the Arts Commission could play a role in connecting artists being displaced with nonprofit arts organizations, resources or spaces. Ms. Mumby said that it was something that could be explored in the Arts Commission’s role as a convener. Mr. DeCaigny said the Northern California Community Loan Fund (“NCCLF”) and the Community Arts Stabilization Trust (“CAST”) were trying to find a nonprofit partner who could help serve artists to address this issue. The Arts Commission was working with ArtSpan to distribute an extensive survey about artist displacement to help inform and understand the need for finding temporary studio space. He said that a nonprofit partner would be more adept at responding to the urgency and timeliness of artist displacement than would government agencies. 

Commissioner Melania called for public comment. There was none made. 

Explanatory Documents: FY2014-2015 SFAC Grant Cycle (pdf); FY2015-2016 SFAC Grant Cycle Changes (pdf)

5. Community Investments Director Report
Ms. Nemzoff said that the Community Investments team had been looking at the programs that fell under the former Community Arts and Education and Cultural Equity Grants programs to realign under the strategic plan. This included arts education and WritersCorps. She then introduced Arts Education Program Officer Liz Ozol. 

Ms. Ozol has spent the past year investigating new strategies, getting acquainted with the San Francisco arts education community, and working with Ms. Nemzoff and Ms. Mumby on re-envisioning the arts education program. Ms. Ozol said that five core areas were identified in the process. The first was to build a grant program to support afterschool programs to work with professional teaching artists. She said that the Arts Commission has been in conversation with the Department of Children, Youth and Their Families (“DCYF”) about aligning strategies, and that this would be further clarified in the coming months. 

The second core area was to develop professional development opportunities for arts educators, teaching artists and arts coordinators. She said there was a demand for this type of professional development in areas such as behavioral management and responding to core curriculum. She said that there would be a similar annual conference like the Wallace Foundation out of school time arts education conference that was held in the fall. 

The third core area would be to build the capacity of the Arts Provider Alliance of San Francisco (“APASF”) to spin off and run independently from the Arts Commission. She said that there were some potential organizations with similar programs that have expressed an interesting in merging with APASF. This way, Ms. Ozol and the Arts Commission would focus more on the role as a funder than administrator to the organization. 

The fourth core area was resources, including the San Francisco arts education guide website and a mapping project of arts education services provided throughout the San Francisco Unified School District (“SFUSD”) and San Francisco broadly. She said that the website, which is a directory of in-school and afterschool arts providers in San Francisco, has been revised multiple times; the hope was to make it more robust. 

The last core area was to build a strategic partnership with the Visual and Performing Arts Department (“VAPA”) of SFUSD. Ms. Ozol and Ms. Nemzoff served on the Arts Education Master Plan (“AEMP”) committee. The committee has been looking at how to define quality arts education, and to revise the AEMP and create a blue print that schools could use. Ms. Nemzoff said that there was a need for mapping resources, as it was very hard to get information from the SFUSD about who was teaching where. She said it was a priority for the AEMP Committee and SFAC. 

Mr. DeCaigny said that alignment with DCYF was very important in thinking about how the City supported out-of-school arts education. He said that it was exciting that for the first time ever, the arts education program officer position was being funded through the City’s general fund, which meant that the position was not restricted in its program responsibilities. He said that it would allow the Arts Commission to align its role as convener in the arena of arts education. 

Ms. Nemzoff said that the AEMP was previously focused exclusively on in-school time, but that the committee was opening it to all points of access throughout a student’s entire day, which included out-of-school time. She said that afterschool arts providers and arts coordinators were hungry for high quality arts education programming. At the Wallace Foundation conference, it was understood that high quality arts education meant hiring a professional teaching artist. 

The committee discussed the model of exchanging professional teaching artist services for space with the SFUSD. Mr. DeCaigny said that it was an idea worth exploring, but much of the unoccupied space that SFUSD owned was because the buildings were condemned. He also mentioned that there would be staffing and facility maintenance challenges, as well as resource challenges for large capital campaigns. 

The committee moved on to discuss the status of WritersCorps. Mr. DeCaigny said that during the strategic planning process, the consultants found there to be a tension of WritersCorps competing with other Arts Commission grantees in serving the broad-based San Francisco arts community. He said that the goal was for the Arts Commission to be at the table as a peer with other arts education funders, instead of a funder and grantee relationship by way of the WritersCorps program. The Arts Commission was investigating how to support the work of WritersCorps, while also supporting the strategic plan’s goals.  

Ms. Nemzoff said that the staff first explored deepening the partnership with the San Francisco Public Library (“SFPL”), one of WritersCorps’ primary funders. The idea was that WritersCorps would become a program of the SFPL and sustain the professional development and support to teaching artists. However, while the SFPL was happy with the WritersCorps program, they felt that it would be too much to take on a new program. 

The Arts Commission has now recruited the consultant services of Melanie Beene, former executive director of Community Initiatives. Ms. Nemzoff said that Ms. Beene helped spin off Community Initiatives from Hewlett Foundation to become its own nonprofit. Ms. Beene would be researching the best way to spin off WritersCorps and would present her initial findings in July. Mr. DeCaigny said that both DCYF and SFPL remained committed to funding the WritersCorps program, while the SFAC would engage in implementing WritersCorps new structure, whatever the outcomes and recommendations of Ms. Beene’s report might be. Ms. Nemzoff said that WritersCorps would be maintaining the status quo of keeping the program modest in size during the transition.

The committee discussed possible nonprofit organizations that WritersCorps could be folded into, such as Aunt Lute Books, 826 Valencia, YouthSpeaks or the Boys and Girls Club. 

Commissioner Shelby asked about the philosophy behind spinning off WritersCorps and where he would find this in the strategic plan. Mr. DeCaigny said that the strategic plan did not name WritersCorps specifically, but that it talked about competing with grantees. 

Commissioner Schnair left at 2:58 p.m.

Ms. Nemzoff concluded that she would be reporting out about WritersCorps on a regular basis. Ms. Takayama reminded the committee that in thinking about the transition of WritersCorps, the program’s model was to heavily invest in the professional development of teaching artists. This was a different model than the nonprofit organizations mentioned such as 826 Valencia, and something she hoped could be maintained. 

Commissioner Melania called for public comment. There was none made. 

6. New Business and Announcements

Commissioner Shelby announced that he would be attending a conference hosted by California Lawyers for the Arts on the arts and corrections, and that he was performing one of the days. 

Commissioner Melania said that the dance community had been approaching her to inquire about the status of the Palace of Fine Arts. Mr. DeCaigny said that the San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department had proposals for the operation of the Palace of Fine Arts, and that they would hold a community meeting on June 23rd.  

Commissioner Melania called for public comment. There was none made. 
7. Adjournment
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 3:07 p.m. 

CF - 06/16/15 draft minutes posted

CF - 07/06/15 minutes adopted

Language Accessibility

Translated written materials and interpretation services are available to you at no cost. For assistance, please notify Program Associate Cristal Fiel, 415-252-3145,

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Materiales traducidos y servicios de interpretación están disponibles para usted de manera gratuita. Para asistencia, notifique a Program Associate Cristal Fiel, 415-252-3145,

Ang mga materyales na nakasalin sa ibang wika at ang mga serbisyong tagapagsalin sa wika ay walang bayad. Para sa tulong, maaring i-contact si Program Associate Cristal Fiel, 415-252-3145,