A Note From the Director

It’s been a month filled with collaborative meetings, from strategic planning sessions with the Arts Alliance Davis, to meetings of the City’s Broadband Advisory Task Force. This work has me thinking about larger community processes, stakeholders, and long-term impact, and the roles that Davis Media Access (DMA) might play.

The arts meetings brought together regular Alliance participants—artists, galleries, museums, and arts organizations—with stakeholders representing schools, the city, and the university, as well as a cross-section of musicians, neighborhood organizers, parents, and fundraisers. The process came together under the leadership of City Arts & Culture Manager Rachel Hartsough, and it will inform her work in months to come as she writes grants that could fund larger-scale community art efforts.

The strategic planning has been a process of identifying community arts assets and gaps, and visioning forward to 2027. What might the arts landscape in Davis look like in 10 years? The ideas that resonated, for me, focused on neighborhood art projects and engagement, a la the work of the Davis Manor Neighborhood Council, and developing public art projects that center on conflict resolution.

In other work, I represent DMA on the City’s Broadband Advisory Task Force, which seeks to advance robust community broadband in Davis. In the 10 months we’ve been working together, we’ve moved to the point of recommending to the City Council a vendor to develop the feasibility study for Davis. Getting to that milestone is huge, because before the work can be happen, we need to figure out the best scenarios under which it could happen.

Both these efforts are unfolding in a landscape that is suddenly more hostile. At the federal level, widespread arts cuts are on the table, which would trickle down into fewer grants being available for civic arts engagement, and fewer projects carried out at the community level.

As well, the kinds of rulemaking coming out of the Federal Communications Commission under new Chair Ajit Pai are troubling, to say the least. It’s clear the FCC will work to dismantle consumer protections established under recent Net Neutrality, such as prohibiting providers from blocking or slowing traffic, or creating “fast lanes” to deliver content at speedier rates to consumers. Pai, a former Verizon attorney, has quickly established a policy direction that seems oriented at removing barriers for large telecom corporations, including but not limited to franchise requirements, local authority, and self-determination. Add in yet more mega-media merger proposals, and the media landscape choices are ever shrinking.

DMA’s commitment to preserving local access and media options remains unwavering. I’ll keep you posted, and in the meantime, please take a quick look at some of the great work being done locally.

Autumn Labbé-Renault, Executive Director

P.S.: The national media scene is driving home the importance of local, non-commercial, independent media. Want to help us build bridges, not walls? From March 15-April 15, DMA will conduct its annual fund-raising campaign to raise $25,000 in support of programs and services such as grassroots radio station KDRT, local election coverage, and youth media programs. We can’t do this work without your support! Look for a letter in the mail mid-March, and see our messaging on social media. Thank you!