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Saturday, April 22, 2006

Dorothea Braemer pointed me to this Village Voice article about the precarious situation the Association for Independent Video and Filmmakers in New York finds itself in. I don't write about Squeaky Wheel here very often, but I should-- it is an organization that is dear to me, and I've been involved with it for a long time. The fact of the matter is that nonprofit media centers like AIVF and Squeaky are important resources that seldom receive the recogonition and support that they deserve. Squeaky is in better shape now than it has been at any other time in the years that I've been associated with it, but it has to scrape and scrap for every cent. We are fortunate to have Dorothea's leadership and commitment-- she really is a remarkable person-- and we have a board that works harder than James Brown. The whole works nearly sank a few years ago, but it didn't, and we are doing important work today because people kept believing, and kept working to keep it going. One of the great things that Dorothea has done has been to spruce up Squeaky's image somewhat: it's fine to have an aura of scruffy lovability as an adolescent, but if you want to be taken seriously it helps to have a more professional appearence. It also helps to have a vision, and Dorothea brings that as well.

I don't think that it is true, as the former director of Film/Video Arts says in the Voice piece, that, "People didn't need to come to us to learn Final Cut Pro. They could teach it to themselves from a book." That sells what not-for-profit media arts organiztions do far too short. Media is about access as much as it is about technological savvy-- actually, media is about a complex package that also includes awareness. Indeed, awareness may be one of the most important components of the mission media centers like Squeaky Wheel exist to accomplish. It is sad, and ironic, that at a time like this, when we are immersed in media in ways that show up "The Matrix" for the comic book metaphor it really is-- that media arts organizations are struggling more than ever. And it isn't lost on me that the vitality of Squeaky Wheel is one more way that the arts make the quality of life in Western New York what it is. I've said it before, but the plain fact of the matter is that the arts are just about the only thing in Buffalo that actually works-- but it takes a lot of work to keep it going.

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