Who's Aggregating Artists' Concerns

By Yolanda Hippensteele, Media Democracy Fund
Bill and others on this thread are correct that it's critical to have collective bodies aggregating the concerns of artists on issues like copyright, IP, open Internet protections,  Internet accessibility, broadcast censorship, broadcast media ownership, etc. Bill mentioned in his earlier post that there are some advocacy groups "nibbling away" at these issues. 

While I can't agree more that this field must be larger, stronger, and better resourced, we'd do an injustice to neglect to acknowledge the heroic work of this savvy field of public interest advocates, lawyers and organizers who spend their days fighting for fairness in our media system. 

National organizations like the Future of Music Coalition, Public Knowledge, Center for Media Justice, Media Access Project and Free Press do brave battle on behalf of artists, audiences, nonprofit organizations and citizens against an extraordinarily powerful telecommunications and media industry lobbies. Arts service organizations like Americans for the Arts, Fractured Atlas and the National Alliance for Media Arts and Culture are also beginning to prioritize advocacy agendas. 

While we can rightly describe the challenges of organizing and advocating around cultural policy (it's technocratic and unsexy, the targets are diffuse and opque, etc.), it is really a lack of resources more than a lack of strategy, interest, or passion that keeps this field from generating the level of awareness and strength of constituency needed to adequately represent the interest of the arts in these critical debates. 

It's not an overstatement to say that the future of arts, media and culture is riding on the work of a perilously under-resourced field.  Yet few philanthropists are informed or engaged in media policy, and even fewer are funding it. Can funders of the arts to make an additional investment in the advocacy efforts needed to promote creativity and culture in the digital era?

Ford Foundation president Luis UbiƱas, in a recent Chronicle of Philanthropy opinion, called on foundations of all kinds to promote Internet access alongside their normal funding areas.  While Ford's $50 million investment is significant, it is seed money rather than a solution.  The field needs and deserves much more support.
July 19, 2010 1:18 PM | | Comments (0) |

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