COMMUNITY ARTS, EDUCATION, AND GRANTS
Tuesday, April 12,
25 Van Ness Avenue,
The meeting was called to order at 3:10 p.m.
Present: John Calloway, Jessica Silverman, Kimberlee
Stryker, and Sherri Young
Staff Present: Director
of Grants E. San San Wong, Community Arts and Education Program Director Judy
Nemzoff, Community Arts and Education Program Manager Robynn Takayama,
WritersCorps Program Manager Melissa Hung, Cultural Equity Grants Program
Associate Jaime Cortez, and Community Arts and Education Program Associate
1. Cultural Equity Grants Program Director Report
Director of Grants San San
Wong introduced the Native Arts and Cultural Traditions grant program (“NAACT”)
that was started four years ago with funding from the Cultural Centers Program
originally earmarked for a Native American cultural center. Based on
information from the Native American community, the Arts Commission thought
that the Native American community would be better served by getting the
funding directly to Native American organizations and artists, rather than one
organization. The development of the grants program was informed by a series of
community meetings and Ms. Wong’s research and discussions with several
national Native American arts organizations and funders. Ms. Wong also designed the grants
program as an “entry grant” to CEG’s ongoing core grant programs which have more
secured ongoing funding.
In addition to the grants
program, Ms. Wong and Community Arts and Education Program Director Judy
Nemzoff worked with community members on a feasibility study for an American
Indian cultural center. The San Francisco Foundation also provided financial
support. The feasibility study and its process raised concerns of
organizational capacity, fundraising, and start-up capital funds. A community
leadership committee was formed, however they have not made progress. Ms. Wong
and Ms. Nemzoff also have been speaking with a few organizations about the
possibility of co-tenancy in Central Market.
Commissioner Young asked if
there was one organization strong enough to be the lead. Ms. Wong replied that
no one organization has had enough capacity to shepherd the development of a
cultural center. Ms. Nemzoff added that part of the intent of the feasibility
study and the grant program was to identify organizations that had the capacity
to take on the center. The Arts Commission made the decision to transition the
funding to CEG for a one-year period, then a two-year period, and another
extension of three years. Currently, NAACT is in its fourth year, and Native
American communities now regard this program as an important source of funding.
Commissioner Young mused on
the possibility of having a Native American cultural center that could disperse
the funding to artists and organizations actually doing the work. She expressed
an interest in seeing which was more effective in helping the Native arts
community: distributing funds through the NAACT grants program or giving a
grant to a Native American cultural center. Ms. Wong explained that because
funding was temporarily allocated to CEG, the NAACT program was designed to
help Native American artists and organizations learn the CEG grant system and
transition into CEG’s ongoing grant programs. This year, CEG also increased
Program Associate Jaime Cortez’s time in order to provide more technical
assistance. This year, CEG sponsored a presentation and reception with the
Native American Arts and Cultures Foundation to introduce this resource to the
Native American community. These are all efforts to build capacity within the
Mr. Cortez, coordinator of
the NAACT program, delivered a brief presentation that gave a snapshot of the
applicant pool and panel recommendations for funding this year. He reported
that the total number of applicants was the same as last year at eighteen
applicants of which there were fourteen new and four returning applicants.
Commissioner Young wanted to know why more applicants weren’t returning to
apply for grant funds. Mr. Cortez responded that some previous grantees had not
turned in final reports; and in other cases, although there seemed to be an
initial level of interest, the reasons are unclear as to why those previous
grantees did not reapply. Commissioner Young asked if CEG held back 10% of the
funding until the final report was submitted. Ms. Wong confirmed that this was
Mr. Cortez reported that many
applications were focused on traditional arts and cultural programs; and there
was an increase in media projects. Major themes of projects included: cultural
preservation; increased visibility for Native arts; and the contemporizing of
Native American identity. Mr. Cortez spent a considerable amount of time on
technical assistance, including: a complex set of issues around eligibility and
identification as a Native American; developing a budget with notes; project
design and narrative; and marketing and outreach plans, especially for
Brief presentations were
given by three applicants recommended for funding: Laura Lehua Yim, Individual
Artist applicant; Roberto Hernandez, Individual Artist applicant; and Zoe
Garvin, Director of Research and Evaluation at Friendship House Association of
American Indians Inc., Building Sustainable Arts applicant.
Mr. Hernandez introduced his
project called Maya 12-12-12. As an
adult, he spent many years traveling in Mexico and Nicaragua tracing his family
ancestry where he learned about Mayan culture including how to create colors
and how to read the calendar. Working with ten young people throughout the
year, he will educate them on the specifics of Mayan culture including sacred
images, the numeral system, and how to read the Mayan calendar. Ideally,
through this knowledge sharing, his students will become educators and share
the real meaning of the Mayan calendar 12-12-12.
Commissioner Young asked
where Mr. Hernandez was finding his students. He replied that he finds young
people organically and works with youth who have some sort of connection to the
art. Commissioner Calloway said that Mr. Hernandez has been an exemplary and
highly visibility community leader for so long that the young people find him.
Commissioner Silverman inquired on the nature of the substances used for the
colors. Mr. Hernandez explained that the colors are derived from flowers,
trees, minerals, and clay. Commissioner Stryker agreed that the colors were
Next, Ms. Yim presented a
Hawaiian chant that she composed representative of the bilingual spoken word
and Hawaiian music she would include in her CD which would be supported by the
NAACT grant. As a musician trained in traditional Hawaiian music, Ms. Yim sought
to explore Hawaii’s complex identity. Ms. Nemzoff commented that the work was
beautiful and the genre extremely powerful.
Lastly, Ms. Garvin presented
images from cultural events that happened at the Friendship House Association
of American Indians Inc., a major provider of substance abuse and prevention
treatment to youth and adults. The grant will support the institutionalization
of the arts and cultures component of the agency that will include regalia
making, dancing, drumming and beading. This programming is important for the
Friendship House because urban Native American communities feel less connected
to traditional culture and heritage. Two core facets of treatment are to
connect clients to traditional Native culture and to foster a sense of community
where there is not a large population. Commissioner Stryker inquired on the
number of people the organization serves. Ms. Garvin answered that they treated
300 people a year. Commissioner Silverman asked where the Friendship House was
located. Ms. Wong replied that it was near Valencia, between 14th
and 15th streets. She also added that it was both a residential and
direct service organization. Mr. Cortez emphasized that it was critical to work
with these types of service agencies, which provide critical arts and culture
Ms. Wong explained that this
grant category supports a wide diversity of work. In addition to funds from the
Cultural Centers, CEG adds approximately $20,000 in grant awards, as well as
covers all of the associated technical assistance, professional development,
administrative and grants management expenses.
Calloway made the following motion:
Motion to approve recommendations to award
thirteen grants totaling $110,395 in the Native American Arts and Cultural
Traditions grants program to the following organizations and individual
artists, and to authorize the Director of Cultural Affairs to enter into grant
agreements with each for the amounts listed:
American Generation, $7,500
Film Institute, $7,125
Arts and Events, $7,500
Nā Lei Hulu I Ka Wēkiu, $1,000
Galería de la
House Association of American Indians, $15,000
The motion was approved
In closing, Ms. Wong gave a
brief update of the studies that CEG is commissioning: one study examines
landscape of cultural equity in San Francisco and nationally, and the impact of
the CEG program; and two other studies look at arts and cultural production in
the two fastest growing populations in San Francisco and the US, Asian American
and Latino communities.
2. Cultural Center Report
Community Arts and Education (“CAE”) Program Manager Robynn
Takayama debriefed the bookkeeper meeting held with the Cultural Centers
bookkeepers and staff. The bookkeepers dialogued about best practices and standardizing
reporting procedures, and shared basic knowledge such as the process for
receiving direct deposits. The meeting was led by Lavette Virden, who has been
bookkeeping for SOMArts Cultural Center (“SOMArts”) for the past ten years.
Ms. Takayama then followed up with an overview of the African
American Art and Culture Complex (“AAACC”) midyear report. Ms. Takayama
reported that AAACC has already met its revenue match for the year, and there
remains a steady increase of audience attendance, artists served,
collaborations, rentals, and productions. As a tenant, AAACC does a great job taking
care of the building and finding resources to supplement SFAC’s role as the landlord.
AAACC has to update its midyear budget report with more accurate information,
but thanks to the bookkeeper meeting, the Cultural Centers have a shared
knowledge of standard reporting procedures.
AAACC Executive Director London Breed explained that the
midyear presentation would focus on youth programs, community-wide events,
resident artist organizations at AAACC, the visual arts program and
accomplishments, and funding opportunities.
AAACC hosts afterschool programs for youth, primarily teens.
Both programs work with at-risk young men and women, teaching them life skills
and engaging them in different types of art, such as ballroom dancing and
creative writing. The programs are meant to develop the skills of these teens
to serve as productive members of society.
Public service events included a District 5 clean-up where
some of the youth were able to perform, a holiday fair, and tree planting. Ms.
Breed reported that there were so many volunteers for these different
engagements that they had to turn some people away.
Ms. Breed reported that resident art organizations like the
African-American Shakespeare Company and AfroSolo Theatre Company have held
great programming this past half-year, such as AfroSolo’s annual festival in
August. African-American Shakespeare Company’s most recent production of Twelfth
Night has been a huge success.
Ms. Breed told the Committee that the visual arts
programming of AAACC has worked hard to showcase art and artists of the African
diaspora. At their Fela Kuti
exhibition, AAACC sold its highest piece ever, at $4,500. AAACC is building up
its reputation as a place where people can observe and buy artwork. Ms. Breed
said there have been so many people visiting the gallery that some come looking
for shows after the exhibitions have closed.
In terms of funding accomplishments, Ms. Breed reported that
AAACC had received a contribution from AT&T of $50,000 toward their youth
programming. Ms. Breed told the Committee that she was confident they would receive
the same contribution next year. The staff continues to work hard to fundraise,
on top of managing the center and working with the youth. Ms. Breed assured the
Committee that the AAACC never goes after more money than they can manage, and
have actually had to turn down some funding opportunities because they did not
have the capacity. AAACC works to focus on sustainability and consistently
matching SFAC’s goals.
Ms. Breed explained that AAACC oftentimes gives space for
free or reduced amounts to arts organizations without the sufficient funds.
When renters are unable to meet their expected revenue numbers, AAACC absorbs
the remaining numbers into their own budget. Ms. Breed told the Committee that
AAACC is currently in the process of capturing those numbers for better budget
reporting. Facility expenses are huge compared to the other Cultural Centers,
since AAACC has the most square feet. Ms. Breed explained that regardless of
expenses, AAACC is able to sustain itself and continue to do the work they do.
Commissioner Calloway commended Ms. Breed and AAACC for
their report and presentation, for the great shows being produced, and their
increase in audience numbers. He noted that one of the challenges the AAACC faces
is the changing dynamic of the surrounding community. Commissioner Calloway
asked: With less African Americans present in District 5, how was the center
dealing with the change in numbers? He would like to see AAACC increase its
outreach capacity to the surrounding area and to address the challenges of
working with youth that are disenfranchised and cynical.
Commissioner Calloway remarked that he was amazed by the
participation of youth in the programs, and their openness to activities such
as ballroom dance. He said that AAACC has met its midyear goals in terms of
what they intended to get done, but they continue to struggle with buy-in from
students reluctant to get involved, as well as the changing community.
Ms. Breed explained that most of the funding for their youth
programs comes from the Department of Children, Youth, & Their Families
(“DCYF”), the Department of Justice, and other sources, as opposed to SFAC.
Commissioner Calloway remarked that he would like the center
to find ways to increase class offerings, but he understands that it is
difficult to find funding and develop the capacity for the center to increase
Commissioner Stryker remarked that she had visited the
center to see Twelfth Night and the photo exhibition. She said that the
center is a glowing beacon in the neighborhood, and a welcoming place for
people to visit.
Commissioner Calloway asked if AAACC produces shows
directly. Ms. Breed explained that the resident arts organizations produce
shows in the center, and AAACC does what it can to keep production costs low.
AfroSolo Artistic Director Thomas Simpson made a public
comment that AAACC continues to grow to become an amazing center for art and
community. He commended AAACC for being on a trajectory toward greater productions,
arts, and community events. The community has really embraced the space as
their own, and the resident art organizations are grateful of the support of
AAACC staff. In terms of funding, Mr. Simpson explained that although funds for
AfroSolo are tight, AAACC helps to keep costs low. He congratulated AAACC and
SFAC for all their efforts.
3. WritersCorps Report
WritersCorps Program Manager Melissa Hung gave a report of WritersCorps’
progress in the year thus far. Ms. Hung told the Committee that there are
currently six WritersCorps teaching artists with many accomplishments such as
publications and awards. Teaching artists are paid a living wage and receive regular,
individual training. Due to funding cuts, the number of teaching artists has
gone down from previous years; the program is accustomed to having eight to
eleven different teachers.
WritersCorps has served approximately 700 students this year, ages 6
through 22. About 60 percent of the students fall in the range of 14 through
17. In the past, WritersCorps has been able to serve more elementary school-age
children, but has focused mainly on serving the teen population due to budget
cuts. According to Ms. Hung, more than half of the students of WritersCorps
speak a language other than English. WritersCorps has served approximately
16,700 students since it first began in 1994.
Ms. Hung reported that WritersCorps currently serves ten different sites,
including: Aptos Middle School, Downtown High School, Mission High School, the Main
Library, Hilltop School, International Studies Academy, Visitacion Valley
Elementary, WritersCorps Apprentices, and the Excelsior district library. This
year, teaching artist Anhvu Buchanan is working with the Juvenile Justice
Center. According to Ms. Hung, depending on the site, WritersCorps programming
and classes run throughout the academic school year.
Ms Hung reported that much of WritersCorps comes from the library and
DCYF. Ms. Hung told the Committee that she anticipates that the funding for
next year will stay the same. WritersCorps has been working on ways to
supplement funding cuts by applying for more grants, but grant income can be
unstable. City funding for WritersCorps has dropped since its peak in 2007–2008.
Highlights from this year include receiving the National Arts and
Humanities Youth Program Award, which was presented at the White House by First
Lady Michelle Obama. This year, WritersCorps will hold the first-ever Poetry
Projection Project, where filmmakers of all ages enter a contest to produce a
short film inspired by the writings of WritersCorps students. The Poetry
Projection Project film festival will be held at Mission Cultural Center for
Latino Arts (“MCCLA”) on Saturday, April 16, 2011. Special guest juror and
local filmmaker Peter Bratt will be in attendance to announce the winners of
his favorite films.
In addition, WritersCorps will soon launch the publication of different
site projects including books, poster series, and chapbooks with a reading event
on May 11, 2011 at the Main Library. WritersCorps will also be featured in a 30-second
public service announcement to be shown at a San Francisco Giants game on June
Goals for the 2011–2012 fiscal year include having seven teachers,
serving 800 youth, increasing funding, and increasing visibility. Ms. Hung told
the Committee that since WritersCorps is a small program within the City, the
program tends to struggle with visibility. WritersCorps has worked on
capitalizing their award from the White House. Ms. Hung called on the
Commissioners for help to recruit advisory board members to broaden visibility
and make plans for the twentieth anniversary.
Commissioner Calloway remarked that he is happy to see that Downtown High
School is a site for WritersCorps, and that it is great to see their work in
publication form. CAE Program Director Judy Nemzoff added that the publications
give the students a sense of pride. Commissioner Young agreed that having hard-copy
publications are incredibly valuable in this digital era.
Ms. Nemzoff remarked that transporting youth and keeping them safe for
events and field trips is an issue that is constantly being addressed.
Commissioner Young congratulated Ms. Hung for her excellent work and her
promotion to program manager.
4. Community Arts and Education Program Director
Ms. Nemzoff presented a brief overview of the Cultural
Center facilities, explaining to the Committee that as requested, the
presentation would frame ongoing monthly presentations about the needs of the
Ms. Nemzoff reported that the SFAC receives $75,000 annually
from the Capital Committee to provide maintenance and repair needs for the four
buildings. In addition, a portion of the SFAC Hotel Tax Fund pays for elevator
maintenance, life safety systems, a stationary engineer, facilities maintenance,
and repair of the Cultural Centers. Over the years, the funding toward the
Cultural Centers’ maintenance and repair has dwindled, as have staff positions
that support the properties. While the City contributes $1.61 per square foot
to maintain the Cultural Centers, the Department of Real Estate allots an
average of $15 per square foot to maintain other City-owned buildings,
Ms. Nemzoff said that other City departments have
contributed funding to address major capital improvements of the Cultural
Centers. The Public Utilities Commission (“PUC”) has given funding for HVAC
systems and electrical upgrades to AAACC, MCCLA, and SOMArts. The Mayor’s
Office on Disability (“MOD”) has contributed funds to make ADA-accessible
renovations to AAACC, with the hopes that Bayview Opera House (“BVOH”) and
SOMArts will receive funding for ADA renovations next fiscal year. The Mayor’s
Office of Community Development has funded BVOH for facilities renovations, and
Bayview Opera House is about to receive funds from the Redevelopment Agency to
complete the plaza and interior building ADA renovations.
Ms. Nemzoff told the Committee that the tenant organizations
of the Cultural Centers are currently on one-year leases, with the goal to
enter into long-term leases. Ms. Takayama clarified that the leases must comply
with the audit and are supposed to be updated annually and released in
conjunction with the grant agreement. The current fiscal year leases have not
been updated because the City Attorney’s office has not had the time to
Ms. Nemzoff told the Committee that the Cultural Centers
have a property value estimated between $60 and $80 million. There is no
full-time City staff working on Cultural Center management. Ms. Nemzoff and Ms.
Takayama work on Cultural Center management part-time. A full-time Cultural
Center building and grounds position was eliminated and a part- time stationary
engineer now serves the centers.
By requirements of the lease and grant agreement, the tenant
organizations must allocate funding for one full-time facility staff member at
each center and are required to maintain the properties to a high standard.
Based on data gathered from the last year’s Cultural Center reports, the centers
spend between 20 to 25 percent of their HTF grant on building maintenance and
repair, the equivalent to $80,000 to $100,000 per center. The tenant
organizations are leveraging additional for major capital improvements.
Commissioner Young asked what the additional funding figures
at the centers include. Ms. Nemzoff said this included a minimum of one full-time
facility manager, custodians, and ongoing maintenance and repair needs. Ms.
Takayama observed that each center alone is spending more than what SFAC
receives annually for maintenance and repair of the four facilities.
In total, the Cultural Centers need almost $5 million for
basic life safety facilities improvements. Current projects would include the
repair of the BVOH south wall and roof system replacement at AAACC, MCCLA, and
Ms. Nemzoff told the Committee that there are many questions
still to be addressed, but she would put together update reports about the
process and progress of facilities improvements for CAEG Committee meetings.
She remarked that these consistent updates will be a platform for conversation
and brainstorming for facilities improvements.
Commissioner Young asked if the Cultural Centers are not in
compliance by not having the basic safety and capital needs for the tenants.
Ms. Nemzoff said that the centers meet required fire and alarm safety but that
most of the centers are not in compliance because of the lack of ADA accessibility.
In the past, BVOH has been sited for non-ADA access. The water damage to the
south wall of BVOH is a potentially threatening situation because of the
likelihood that the wall is structurally unsound. Director of Programs Jill
Manton will be presenting before the Capital Committee to request funds for
this and other facilities needs.
Commissioner Stryker remarked that the City is not being the
best landlord if it is not in compliance with its own lease agreement.
Commissioner Young added that as public spaces, attention should be given to
the life safety systems upgrades of the Cultural Centers, as the City is
putting the public in life-threatening situations.
Ms. Nemzoff reported that she is in the process of putting
together comparison figures for the maintenance of cultural buildings in other
major cities, such as Los Angeles and New York.
Commissioner Young remarked that in an ideal situation, the
City staff would maintain the buildings and the tenant organizations would
focus on programming. As landlord, the City should be maintaining the buildings
to make them more accessible to the public. The City should put in time and
allocate more funding for these public centers.
Commissioner Stryker asked if it was appropriate to have
more staff time set aside to develop a plan. Staff would offer alternatives and
the Committee can weigh in.
Commissioner Young said she would discuss the idea of an
evaluation and report of best practices regarding facilities improvements with
Director of Cultural Affairs Luis R. Cancel and Commissioner P.J. Johnston.
Commissioner Stryker asked if a fundraiser could be set up
for the maintenance and repair of the Cultural Centers. This would raise
awareness of the issue and potentially bring in funders who would not normally
care about such an issue. Ms. Nemzoff said that SFAC created ArtCare to support
the efforts to support Collections. Commissioner Young remarked that this is an
issue that needs more information and she would consult with Director Cancel
and Commissioner Johnston.
5. Arts Education
There was no report presented.
6. New Business
Ms. Takayama reminded the Committee that the launch of
Central Market Art in Storefronts would be on Friday, May 13, 5–7 p.m. A press
release will be distributed soon.
adjourned at 5:16 p.m.