Compared to the rest of the country, Minnesota is a mecca for arts funding. Yes, your artist friends kvetch about having to write ponderous grant proposals to support their work. But this is a state where we, the people, passed a constitutional amendment to support the arts, and where we have groups like the McKnight Foundation and the Jerome Foundation who actually believe that artistic creativity is worth something. Tell that to your friends in South Dakota, or anywhere.
Now there’s another generous dollop of funding in the mix: a $50,000 “New Media” arts grant, offered by McKnight and IFP Minnesota (Independent Filmmaker Project), where I work. I asked Jay Gabler, arts editor at the Twin Cities Daily Planet, whether he would write an article about what I thought was a rather exciting story. You know what he said? “Write it yourself.” That’s citizen journalism for you.
Therefore, I, a Daily Planet citizen journalist, will interview me, the administrator for the New Media Project Grant at IFP Minnesota, about this latest infusion of cash into our creative culture.
What is the New Media Project Grant?
The New Media Project Grant is a $50,000 grant for media artists working in film, video, interactive games, mobile apps, radio, and any other forms of “New Media.”
Why are you putting “New Media” in quotes? Isn’t it a real thing?
Yes, but there are so many definitions I felt the need for air quotes just then. For our purposes, New Media is a catchall term for media art that goes beyond traditional TV and movie screens. Maybe you’ve heard the terms “transmedia,” or “cross-platform media,” or “immersive media”?
Really, you should get out more. These are terms that try to capture what lots of innovative media artists are doing these days: creating stories on more than one platform or device. Or crowdsourcing some of the art. Or using interactivity to engage new audiences.
Maybe you could give some examples? Because I have no idea what you’re talking about.
Yes, good idea. Have you heard of The Johnny Cash Project? It’s a website where you can use a drawing tool and a template to submit a picture of Johnny Cash. The project creators then combine your picture with art from participants around the world, and it’s all combined into a music video for “Ain’t No Grave,” Johnny’s final studio recording.
Check it out. Another New Media (or transmedia) project is called The Waiting Room, a film project with some additional components. It’s a straight-up documentary about people waiting in the ER of a hospital in Oakland. But there’s also a storytelling component with an interactive, user-generated platform where people in ER waiting rooms can record video, take a picture or audio, tweet, or use text to tell their stories. The producers will then incorporate those stories into their website. They’re also planning a phone app where people can contribute stories to the database.
Here’s a link to a whole list of New Media projects from the Tribeca Film Institute. Enjoy.
Hmm. Everything on this list looks like a documentary-based project. Is the New Media Project Grant just for nonfiction media?
No! It can be fiction, nonfiction, web-based, film-based, radio-based, you name it. It could even be an alternate reality game. That’s where artists take a single story and divide it across multiple media to create a narrative, game, and real-world experience. You can read more about it here, if you want to blow your mind.
Okay, but some of this “transmedia” stuff just looks like marketing gimmickry.
True enough. Lots of transmedia projects are strictly for marketing purposes. But they can also be a way of engaging new audiences in the story through different platforms. That would work for this grant, if it’s art and not plain old commerce.
According to whom?
According to the person who will be judging the entries. That will be someone from outside Minnesota who works with all kinds of media art.
So, let me get this straight. Artists can apply to get funding for a new project, right? It’s not a reward for work that’s already completed.
Right. Project proposals can be for pre-production, production, or post-production funding. But they can’t be all done already.
Does the $50,000 get divided up among several projects? Or is there just one award-winner?
Just one. You can apply as an individual artist or as a team of two. And there are other eligibility requirements, like being a Minnesota resident and not being a student. Surely I can presume that you’ll take the time to read the rules on the IFP website.
I don’t know—I don’t really like reading those long-winded application guidelines. Can’t I just come to a session and you’ll tell me how to do it?
I am not your mother. I will, however, hold several information sessions and webinars (October 9, 24, 25, and November 7) where you can ask well-considered questions after reading the guidelines thoroughly. Details are on the website.
What inspired the creation of this new grant?
You didn’t read the press release we sent out, did you? The one where McKnight arts program officer Laura Zimmermann explained, “Serving a dynamic community like media artists takes flexibility to adopt and adjust strategies to meet changing needs”?
Well, read it. The grant was born of sheer awesomeness on the part of The McKnight Foundation. And dogged determination on the part of IFP Minnesota, if I may say so. And faith that the community of filmmakers, videomakers, game-makers, webisode-makers, radio-makers, and as-yet-undefined-media-makers in this great state will keep the creative genius flowing.
How long do I have to put my project proposal together?
The deadline is January 14th. Wait a minute—you’re not eligible. You work for IFP.
Right. Forgot my identity for a minute there.
We’d better wrap this up, then. Bye, other self.