From the Executive Director
“My people will sleep for 100 years and when they wake it will be the artists who give them their spirit back.”
As soon as he shared this piece of wisdom, I took a breath and repeated it. To myself. And then I tweeted it. I made a picture from a graphic on Dylan’s website. I looked at it for a long time. We wake and are woke to the sounds and rustlings of storytellers, performers, poets, dancers, mediamakers and shamans—I’m thinking of what so many brought to Oakland for the Alliance conference—Mark Bamuthi Joseph, Sarah Crowell, Michael Premo and so many others—in this dark political climate, in a world where justice for all feels so much and often impossible—artists hold that sacred space where stories and spirit are given back. Real, virtual, or augmented, live in body or digital, streaming, dreaming, or real time—breaking like the news breaks or waves break—it is the stories that can heal and bring us back to each other.
I spent some time on the plane back to Oakland reading Creativity Connects: Trends and Conditions Affecting US Artists. If you are interested in the economic conditions and structural inequities that exist impacting the lives and work of artists in this country, this is really worth reading. Not earth-shatteringly new, but definitely edifying. The top-line revelations include:
Artists still need training, information, markets, material supports, networks, and validation. Five main priorities for future work emerged from the research. They say that action in these following areas could move conditions for artists in a positive direction:
- Articulate and measure the benefits of artists and creative work to societal health and well-being.
- Address artists’ income insecurity as part of larger workforce efforts.
- Address artists’ debt and help build their assets.
- Create 21st-century training systems.
- Upgrade systems and structures that support artists.
It’s humbling to be part of the leadership of a growing international Alliance that is working on some of these issues. In addition to our tentpole programs like HatchLabs, the Innovation Studio, Creative Leadership Lab, and Youth Media—we are moving forward with our plans to create a Media Policy Hub on our website, a story + data map that will reflect relevant media policy issues, bills and legislation that impact artists and organizations. We are also engaging some badass strategists + lobbyists to work with us to create an advocacy strategy and lobbying plan focused not only on arts policy legislation, but on a new, invigorated movement in Creative Workforce Development.
We’re setting the stage to enable federal funding, along with a network of public/private partnerships, to seed national art/work initiatives at the local level, run by local media arts organizations—including Apprentice Training in Media Arts, Opening Doors for Youth, and Science/Tech and Innovation. By securing new, accountable funding pipelines and building capacity across the network, we can deepen as well as scale the impacts of our shared commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion and abundance. We must make these concepts real—not only embedded in our stories and in the intentions of the work we do, but also in how we work and the systems we create.
I hope everyone reading this who runs or is involved with an incredible local media center, an independent film company, or a media arts nonprofit offering classes and workshops—will join us as we gather the tribe and raise our voices to build this movement. More details coming soon on how to get involved.
Notes from the Field
NAMLE’s Media Literacy Week Launches Later This Month
The National Alliance for Media Literacy Education’s Media Literacy Week works to bring attention and visibility to media literacy education in the United States. The 50-State Dinner Party Project, a Collective Action Initiative of NAMAC, is a proud co-sponsor of Media Literacy Week, which runs October 31st through November 4th. During the week, youth, adults, and elders will be joining around tables in Portland, New Orleans, and beyond exploring the question, “What are our desired futures?”
White House: October Is National Arts and Humanities Month
Late last month, President Obama signed a presidential proclamation naming October 2016 National Arts and Humanities Month, writing, “By investing in the arts, we can chart a course for the future in which the threads of our common humanity are bound together with creative empathy and openness.”
Youth FX Filmmaker Takes Top Prize at 15 Minute Max Fest
NAMAC member Youth FX‘s Ejaniia Clayton took first place at the 15 Minute Max Student Film Festival last week for her short film Reach. Youth FX filmmakers Aden Suchak (Make It Float) and Darian Henry and Maya Suchak (Finding Strength) also had their work screened as part of the fest.
NMAAHC Opens with Question Bridge: Black Males
The National Museum of African American History and Culture opened its doors just a few weeks ago, and among the projects in the new museum’s permanent collection is Question Bridge: Black Males, first launched by NAMAC collaborator Chris Johnson in 1996. Check out Chris’s work on the Oakland Fence Project here.
Is there something you’d like to publicize via NAMAC’s eBulletin? Fill out our eBulletin submission form.
Media Policy Watch
By Rose Kaplan
The 2016 presidential election nears, and there’s a variety of articles and write-ups comparing Hillary Clinton’s and Donald Trump’s tech and Internet policy statements. An extensive overview from the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, puts the candidates side-by-side on issue areas including innovation and R&D, broadband/telecom, internet and digital economy, and others. And an Ars Technica write-up from earlier this week compares the candidates on net neutrality—where Clinton has been largely supportive, while Trump has said little.
In February, New York City launched LinkNYC, a collaborative public/private communications network aimed at repurposing payphone infrastructure to provide free, fast wi-fi to New Yorkers. Now, eight months later, Vice Motherboard’s Linda Huber has investigated how the network is impacting the lives of New York City’s poor and homeless communities—those most affected by the digital divide.
Google Fiber has been expanding lately, with new agreements signed with cities in Tennessee and Kentucky, but the broadband and cable TV initiative from Alphabet Inc. has been running into opposition from traditional ISP’s including AT&T and Charter. Nashville, which passed an ordinance late last month aimed at helping Google Fiber accelerate its deployment in the city, is now facing a lawsuit from AT&T, and Louisville has been sued by Charter, who claims its First Amendment rights to “speech” as a cable TV provider have been violated.
The fight over net neutrality has branched out lately to include debates over mobile and broadband data caps, as well as the practice of “zero-rating”—when companies provide certain content for free. As The Washington Post reported last week, Facebook is working on a domestic launch of its Free Basics program—zero-rated access to selected internet services including news, jobs, and health information, all aimed at low-income and rural Americans who often lack access to broadband internet at home or on smartphones.
The program violates one tenant of net neutrality—that providers treat all content equally—and it’s this issue that in-part killed Facebook’s attempts to roll out the program in India earlier this year. And yet, in a world where many still lack access to consistent broadband of any kind, the service could help millions of people.
Meanwhile, Comcast is bringing data caps to eighteen more states starting November 1st, despite acknowledging that there is no real technical necessity for the caps; Charter is fighting the FCC on a policy that would force it to unbundle its modems from its broadband services; and in a memorable FCC filing last month, cable company Mediacom attempted to frame the data capping issue using the metaphor of oreos, noting: “You have to pay extra for double-stuffed.” However, one sarcastic Ars Technica commenter cleverly points out the absurdity of this scenario:
“Let’s say you have a bad Oreo habit. Like a box a day. With such Oreo consumption, you have negotiated a deal wherein you get a full month’s supply for $100. 30 boxes or so for $100. Now a few days before the month is up, you run out of Oreos. You see, you have visitors, and they like Oreos too. You would think you could just to to 7-Eleven and buy a box for $5. But you can only buy Oreos from your current supplier, as the local municipal government has legally mandated that there are only two OSPs (Oreo Service Providers) allowed to sell Oreos in your city. You have to pick one (which you have) and you can’t switch mid-month without paying for the next month you’ll never receive. So you get the extra box from your OSP, and pay the overage fee of $25 a box. Yeah, the internet is exactly like Oreos.”