From the Executive Director

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Welcome to Western Arts Alliance's new website and membership management system. The new integrated system makes it easier to manage your relationship with WAA, connect with colleagues, and access information that's relevant and useful to your business.

I could geek out on you and say that the site is built on two powerful cloud-based platforms, MemberSuite—a CRM designed just for associations and their members, and Drupal—the world's leading open-source content management system. It's all very impressive—to the techies. But what matters most to you is not what's under the hood, but performance. Here's what she'll do for you!

User Accounts

One of the biggest changes in the new site is account registration. Anyone (member or nonmember) that wants to use the WAA website to join/renew, register for the conference, use the online store, view or post a job, nominate someone for an award, etc., will need a login. The user account will give you access to privileged resources and store your profile information and history with WAA. All active contacts associated with current members, lapsed members, and nonmember attendees to conferences within the last three years already have an account in our new system. You should already have received instructions about logging in for the first time. It’s important to note that from now on the username is your email address. 

Introducing the Dashboard

When you log into the new website, generally you’ll land on the account dashboard. Here’s where you’ll find your profile, account history, event registrations, and access to resources based on your relationship to WAA. If you are the primary contact for an active member organization, you will also have access to your organization info, but by default you login as an individual. To access your membership record or to manage organizational contacts, simply click on your organization name at the bottom of the profile record. A great new feature of the system is the ability for the primary contact to assign an administrator to manage the relationship with WAA. Administrative contacts can renew memberships, edit organizational profiles, manage contacts, and purchase exhibits and conference registrations for their organization—a huge time-saver for the busy boss!

Edit My Information

The Edit My Information button is self-evident, but again, there are several handy new features. Here you can post a thumbnail photo of yourself (120x120 px), manage your communication preferences (what communication you want to receive and from whom), and set up to three job roles that best describe your position. This is a great tool to help members connect with others doing similar work. In the future, WAA will also be able deliver content based specifically on your profile. 

Reading the Gauges — Dashboard Miscellany

Committees—If you’re serving on any Western Arts Alliance committees, you will see them listed here, but anyone can browse WAA’s complete committee rosters. FYI, the Committees module can also accommodate special interest groups. Let us know if you’d like to start or organize a group!

Initially, your account history will be empty. But as you use the site, your order history, payments, and credits (if any) will show in My Account. With the Career Center you can now post a job and search other job postings. This service is available to all registered users, but members receive a 50 percent discount on job postings. 

Organizing Content

In addition to the membership management system, we’ve made a substantial upgrade to the site’s ability to display and manage content. Most exciting of all, the site works great from any device. Check it out on your smartphone, tablet and desktop! As I mentioned earlier, we’ll soon be able to tailor content to your arts and career interests. We are also deploying tagging so members can use tags to reference and find content by topic.

Member Story — Telling Your Story

Every organization has a story and here’s your chance to tell it! Send us a high-resolution landscape photo (ask Michael Knapp for a template) and 250-word narrative that simply and authentically tells the story of your agency or organization, work, and community. We’ll post one story for every member (and update them as requested). Please note that content may be edited for brevity, style, and grammar.

Western Ways — All New

Western Ways, WAA’s newsletter, has been completely redesigned as a webzine with news and information about the field, members, and WAA programs. The site now supports comment –so members and registered users can dialogue about articles and issues in the news. We’ve also made it easy to share your favorite articles on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.


The new website includes a robust and flexible advertising module. Ads can be placed—just like a magazine, next to content on virtually every page of the site (including Western Ways). Contact Michael Knapp about options and rates.

Finally… Electronic Lists!

As an association, WAA is working harder than ever to engage our members year-round. Throughout the year, email and postal mail are great ways to stay connected to peers, clients, and prospects. In the near future we’ll be introducing a presenter list subscription service so that it’s simple and easy to stay current with the contact details and communications preferences of presenters. Instead of paying $50 for a single use set of mailing labels, members will pay $100 for one year of on-demand access to up-to-the-minute data on WAA’s presenters. Also, exhibitors will now receive, at no cost, the post-conference participant list in electronic form. Keep in mind, that in compliance with the CAN-SPAM Act, our new system allows members to manager their own communication preferences (the ability to decide what you receive through WAA, how, and from whom).

These are just a few highlights of the new system. In the near future, we’ll announce a webinar for a guided tour of the new system and features. In the coming months, we will also be rolling out tweaks and additional features to make the site even more valuable to your everyday work.

Please take a few minutes to test drive the new system and let us know what you think!

Tim Wilson

PS—I want to thank the whole staff for their extra effort in getting the new site up and running, especially Michael Knapp, WAA’s Membership and Communications Manager, who’s worked tirelessly on the site since assuming the position December 1. I also need to recognize Chelsea Maricle, WAA’s former Membership and Communication Manager, who served as our contracted project manager from July to December. Without Chelsea’s diligent, rigorous, and detailed work, we simply couldn’t have completed this desperately needed upgrade to the WAA site.


Timothy Wilson


Tim Wilson

Western Arts Alliance Executive Director