Westaf: October Update Notes

Westaf logo blue 
From Anthony Radich, Executive Director 
This is the 89th in a continuing series of updates about the work of WESTAF.
Update Notes #89 October 2016
IMTour™ Site Announced
WESTAF's is pleased to announce its newest website, IMTour.org. The primary purpose of the site is to facilitate the booking of contemporary independent musicians by nonprofit presenters. The site is currently live and is conducting a plan for a late October "soft launch." Program staff has been working closely with participating states regarding the best way this program can serve presenters and artists and they are excited about the program's progress and all the possibilities for championing independent music.
Summit for Emerging Leaders of Color
WESTAF will hold its first-ever summit for Emerging Leaders of Color October 26-28, 2016, in Tacoma, Washington. The convening will bring together 21 past participants of its Emerging Leaders of Color (ELC) Program and will include a joint meeting with WESTAF's Board of Trustees and Multicultural Advisory Committee. The joint meeting will be centered on a discussion of how WESTAF can continue to advance inclusion and equity in the arts and culture sector. With the breadth of knowledge and experience that exists among these constituencies, the ELC Summit provides a unique opportunity for creating pathways that lead toward a more representative, inclusive, and equitable field.
WESTAF Launches New Website
The sixth and newest iteraton of WESTAF's website can be found at www.WESTAF.org. The site was designed by Joy Marcus, Creative Director at Grid, in St. Louis, Missouri, who has a longtime design relationship with WESTAF. The site contains an array of information for those who want to know more about WESTAF and its work. The website is supplemented by a number of service-specific sites such as ZAPPlication®, CallforEntry.org™, CVSuite™, IMTour™, Grants Online™, and others that directly address the interest and needs of WESTAF's online user communities. If you have suggestions regarding how to improve the usability of this new site and/or wish to suggest information that should be added to it, please contact WESTAF Communications Director Leah Horn at [email protected].
National Survey of State Arts-Advocacy Organizations
In order to inform the recent WESTAF symposium on state arts advocacy, blogger and former California Arts Council director Barry Hessenius was commissioned to conduct a 50-state survey of state arts-advocacy organizations. The draft findings were initially presented at the WESTAF symposium on the status and future of state arts advocacy organizations. Following is a brief summary of Hessenius' initial findings:

The state of state arts advocacy organizations runs the gamut from well financed, well led, stable, successful organizations to non-existent or nearly non-existent efforts. Several states across the country are in periods--and some of them in extended periods--of reorganization.  One key variable related to the success of the organizations appears to be the strength of their leadership. Without an effective paid or volunteer leader, sustaining an ongoing advocacy operation is extremely difficult. Another key factor in the success of state arts-advocacy organizations is the presence of a stable stream of funding that can support the cause.  

A rather concerning finding was that fully 25--or half--of the 50 advocacy organizations could not be reached after two phone calls and at least one email contact. In about half of these difficult-to-reach instances, a small advocacy effort existed; however, a person seeking to contact the organizations would encounter some difficulty. 

The key finding of the survey was that state arts-advocacy organizations could be classified into four separate groups. The groups are: 
  • Fully Functional:  This group contains 12 state arts advocacy organizations that have the following attributes: a) at least one full-time staff person; b) the engagement of a lobbyist or the presence of a professional in-house lobbyist; c) a stable budget of $100,000 or more; d) either a 501(c)(3) or 501(c)(4) destination or both; and e) a history of strong board or staff leadership.
  • Operating: This group of 10 state arts-advocacy organizations is characterized by a lack of one or more of the attributes found in the "fully functional" category. The most common difference is that the organizations classified as operating entities often have a single part-time staff member.
  • Limited Function: This group of six state arts-advocacy organizations offers limited services and could be considered modest in their organizational effectiveness. Barely functioning, several of these organizations are in the midst of relaunching dormant arts advocacy efforts.
  • Non-Functioning: This group of 22 states has no functioning state arts-advocacy organization.  
WESTAF will work with Barry Hessenius to complete and distribute a full report and analysis related to this survey in January of 2016.

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