NAMAC Regional Meetup

I attended a meeting of regional NAMAC members at 9th Street Independent Film Center. The building is owned by a consortium of film focused groups, like the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival, Frameline (International Lesbian & Gay Film Festival), Center for Asian American Media, among others and managed by the Film Center. I represented Davis Media Access and was the only representative from a community media center.

I was among about 18 attendees- including John Lightfoot- Program Officer California Council for the Humanities, Santhosh Daniel from Global Film Initiative, Steve Seid- video curator at the Pacific Film Archive, and Jennifer Morris- Director of San Francisco International LGBT Film Festival to name a few.

Part of the purpose of the sessions, led by Paula Manley, is ongoing research by NAMAC. NAMAC took extensive notes and will report back on research at this meeting and 4 other regional gatherings. Another gathering may be convened where one "breakout topic" will be explored more in depth.

Todays session focused on the question "What has changed in our operating environment over the past 5 years?"- focusing on following factors to jumpstart our thinking: political, philanthropic, technological and economic. To explore this area, we broke into groups of 3 a few different times to brainstorm and then to narrow down the brainstorming into categories.

Collaboration, Funding / Advocacy, New Technologies, Relevancy, Building New Audiences, among others, all emerged as headings- though we assigned catchier names like "Allied Forces, Macro-Tech; Mirco-Audience, or Who Am I? Who Cares?"- all in good fun.

During our discussion Santhosh Daniel from Global Film Initiative mentioned how the rate of collaboration mirrors the speed at which social media moves- organizations seem to be collaborating like crazy in order to find real fruitful connections.

Stephen Gong, Executive Director of the Center for Asian American Media mentioned the need for "trusted guides" as audiences move to find content and information online.

Jack Walsh, Executive Director of NAMAC that many of our organizations were based on social justice movements. Many of those organizations have outlived their purpose and have changed focus. As a result the advocacy groups behind such organizations may have moved on, requiring more grassroots cultivation on the part of the organization.

Brittany from NAMAC mentioned the article "Omni-Mentorship" regarding the growing generation gap in the workplace.

We also shared case studies where digital platforms have played a prominent role in solving a solution, and sometimes precipitated additional problems. Sue Ellen McCann, KQED Quest Executive Producer, mentioned how 1/3 of their audience is now online, and most comes not from but from embedded sources- other sites displaying their video. She also mentioned that KQED is working more with independent producers, and by showcasing programs, that the "curatorial aspect is an interesting space for public media to be in."

Santhosh Daniel from Global Film Initiative talked about their distribution program with libraries, where they are gaining an edge by offering a digital copy as well as a DVD. He mentioned there is little money to be made in DVD distribution, and instead sees a bigger impact with educational and library distribution.

Skye Christensen, executive director of 9th Street Independent Film Center talked about the building tenants initiative to form a collective database for their work. This will lead to unprecedented collaboration with data and a high level of transparency for all organizations involved.

John Lightfoot- Program Officer California Council for the Humanities talked about the Councils new interest in funding projects that are solely based online, and formatted for such a medium. It isn't clear if this avenue will increase or decrease, but he indicated they are trying it out.

Stephen Gong, Executive Director of the Center for Asian American Media, talked about their relatively new 3-person Department of Interactive Media and some of the work going on there, including an iPhone app with 6000 downloads.

Steve Seid- from the Pacific Film Archive talked about recent book Radical Light , and how the book constantly references their online interface, which is part of their Cinefiles site. The Cinefiles site contains documents from the Pacific Film Archive Library. Radical Light directs readers to an interface of Cinefiles that is Bay Area specific. He sees more work in this realm in the future.

Gina from SFMoma mentioned a project she is not involved in directly called Pick Pocket Almanak, whereby people sign up for a guide to events and research around the city that is curated by a professor. People can pick the professor and topic they are interested in to follow the professors suggestions.

Some summary concepts from the shared storytelling included: people looking for more face-to-face time, organizations are taking risks and experimenting more, organizations are focusing on micro-audiences, and old media with new media can be combined with interesting results.

Jack Walsh, Executive Director of NAMAC also gave an update of NAMAC activities, including the Mapping the Field update where 400 organizations answered an in-depth questionnaire. They found that those organizations combined had 288 million in budgets, 10 million in equipment purchases, and over 281,000 new programs per year. NAMAC plans to incorporate all members from each member organization into NAMAC as they gear up for the 2012 conference. Dewey mentioned their upcoming Blog Salon between December 13th-17th, and the published anthology of media arts leaders. Rachel talked about the Open Dialogues , which are live chats incorporated twitter hash tags, covering areas of interest in media arts. The format produces an intensely high speed / efficient workpace, and is documented online at Jack shared that the upcoming year will be spent on Net Neutrality , as this has become the big issue at the moment; specifically to keep online spaces open for artistic freedom. He felt Julius Genachowski is playing the role of mediator, and not of leader on the issue.

Notes from NAMAC on this meetup will be coming out in late December for editing and distribution.