Panel Report

From: Bernard Roddy (email suppressed)
Date: Thu Jul 16 2009 - 12:36:13 PDT

Here's an Arts Council Panel Report, for your delectation:

On a southern state's Arts Council panel I sat on last week $1,000 was given to each of three filmmakers on the basis of 20 minutes of film clips provided on disc. There were twenty-two submissions for the open grant with no strings attached. The two other panelists were a new archivist at a media center in the south and a guy running an "indie" festival in another southern state. All three panelists were from out of state. Discussion was led by a former executive of Wal-Mart who frequently asked for approval from another shirt-and-tie gentleman whose role I didn't catch. Also at the table was the woman who serves as hostess, taking us to dinner and showing us the state's capital, and three secretaries with a tape recorder. We were provided the discs several weeks in advance and together viewed two of the final four entries to determine which to exclude. Each filmmaker submitting provided an artist's statement but these were not provided to
 panelists. We heard several of these read aloud to facilitate discussion. Everyone was very friendly. Near the end of the meeting the panelists were asked to discuss ways in which the Arts Council might attract more work that was not promotional or commercially oriented.

During our discussion we went down the list of entries in the order in which they appeared on our sheets, each panelist voicing a favorable or negative vote on each submission. A previous panelist's remarks could thus influence the panelist to follow, and often did so. We were given the opportunity to develop our thinking but ultimately expected to enter a vote. After all entries had been voted on in this way, four had received a yes from every panelist. Thus no further consideration was given to any entry that had received a no.

Among the submissions there were documentaries by media activists on political issues, documentaries glamorizing a local artist, several documentaries on animal shelters and animal training, a couple attempts at narrative humor (a take-off on horror, etc.), three submissions by individuals who had compiled a collection of shorts exploring individual obsessions (experiments in digital art, short expressive documentaries on the work of other artists, weird music videos), and one contemplative narrative about cultural displacement. These last four were the finalists.

Of the three artists who will receive $1000 only the one who made short documentaries about other artists appeared to be from the state. Two of the artists appeared to be either Asian or in close association with Asian culture (this occurred to me afterwards). These works were the most polished, demonstrating a degree of technical training but also a certain aesthetic development. While video activism was strongly represented in the submissions, no support was provided for any of this work.



For info on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at <email suppressed>.