NEO To Build Media Arts Center

Submitted by Norm Roulet on Thu, 03/02/2006 - 23:26.

Discussions at the NEO Excellence Roundtable on Film surfaced many areas where people want to pursue initiatives, but none had as much support as a "Media Arts Center".

Even without ever having seen a media arts center, I can picture what it looks like, offers the community, and adds to the economy.  To make this picture a reality, we need to help many community leaders see it clearly too. Let's start by throwing around some ideas - here's what we started with from the Roundtable notes:

  • Having a vibrant film industry creates visual outcomes - films and increasingly multimedia - that enlightens and transforms the community itself
  • Need to make basic film making tools more accessible.
    • Cameras are $1,000s
    • Adequate computers and prefered software are expensive
    • Could share many facilities - green screen - soundstage
    • Loan or rental program
  • Need media arts center
    • Examples in Pittsburgh, Columbus
    • Other examples
    • What should a media arts center provide/be?
    • Not just about film - all media - music for media?
  • Quality power in = quality power out
    • Cleveland can be source of quality films, but we need to have excellence in every segment of the industry, from K-12 and higher education to creative funding to technology support... along with talented film makers
  • David Reed of the Kent State Urban Design Collabortive pointed out they are working on some major projects in East Cleveland
    • East Cleveland has some lowest cost space, including land bank properties. If you have a great idea that will need some land, then this is an opportunity
    • Need to develop more opportunities in film for students - all ages - draw them into industry and keep them in town
      • Film is not just film makers or actors - there are many interesting good paying jobs and related businesses supported
    • From real estate and economic development perspective, the arts are part of urban sustainability and we need to help film industry grow
    • Film is important part of community story telling
    • Again, the issue is raised that many of the new technologies are expensive - barrier to entry - need lending and timesharing program
      • Includes facilities for special effects, animation, etc.... this is where many of the jobs develop
    • Computer labs need help bringing video resources into urban areas - need to bridge digital divide
      • This is especially a problem in poorer parts of the community, where few individuals and organizations, schools and clubs have high end computing equipment, software and high bandwidth
        • Some attendees expressed immediate needs for donations of adequate computers and software, like a G5 and Director, to run a video production lab at public schools and community centers - who can help out?
        • East Cleveland would like help with this
    • There are lots of mini-studios in town - many people here have artistic side down pat - need help on business development side
    • The most frequently raised idea is a non-profit, cooperative Media Arts Center
      • David Reed of Kent Urban Design Collaborative explained there is one-stop urban design center in Columbus that is very powerful - suggests same for film here
        • Raises obvious question... is Kent providing that service in Cleveland, or planning to, or is there a way it may be created here... we ned this for matters such as the I-90 bridge and Flats/Lakefront planning... something driving more collaborative community engagement and understanding
        • The new Dean of the Kent State University College of Architecture and Urban Design will be featured at the March 21 Excellence Roundtable, so we'll have a chance to explore this further then
      • What are world-class examples of such Media Arts Centers in the world today? We need to find the best practices - visit them - interact with their planners and managers - become experts and package this for this community
    ( categories: )

    What is a Media Arts Center?

    Kent State's David Reed and I were talking today about what a Media Arts Center is. At the Roundtable we identified a few - Pitts and Columbus - so I'm starting my research there - David is looking for innovative models elsewhere. Here's a good beginning of a definition:




    NEO Filmmakers is one of the largest independent media arts centers in the country. We are committed to the advancement of artistic excellence in film, video, photography and digital media, and accomplish this with programs in education, artist services, community outreach and exhibition.


    Founded in 2006 to provide media-making tools to artists, NEO Filmmakers serves everyone from emerging artists to established artists to fellow non-profit organizations and students. Our Indie Film Festival is the region's largest annual film event.


    Board of Directors: ...

    Advisory Board: ...

    NEO Filmmakers is a non-profit 501 (c) (3) corporation. A copy of the official registration of NEO Filmmakers and financial information may be obtained from the Ohio Department of State by calling toll free, within Ohio 1.800.732.0xxx. Registration does not imply endorsement.

    Can Local Universities Play a Role?

    Something that came up during the round table: many of the participants had connections to local Universities and CIA. It sounded like there is a some redundancy and too much bureauracy with education and investment in equipment. Is there a way that several schools could share one great media center? Perhaps bringing everyone together and giving them equal access to the best resources would  end some of negative attitude, promote more creativity and higher quality work.

    Need to come together on more than film center...

    For sure - industry knows to consolidate wasteful things like expensive, little used technologies, facilities and administration. It is true that all the area schools seem to share the exact same pool of talent, which goes from wasteful, ineffective facility to wasteful ineffective facility - and then they need to wait 10 years for changes in programming, which is far from acceptable, especially in a field increasingly influenced by technology.


    So the "film industry" needs to take charge of devising a regional film curriculum, leveraging all the existing equipment and facilities, while planning a better solution to deploy immediately, like a Media Arts Center.


    All this should fully support the entire learning continuum, from pre-school to independent guru-based R&D, like for new animation technologies.... public and private. Assume nothing works today and design from scratch - include OneCleveland, IdeaStream, CMSD, CIA, CSU, Kent, Case CCC (all branches), other schools, other video-related and film related stakeholders in the planning - learn from best practices around the world.


    Now this will not solve all problems for all people, but it will solve many problems for enough people to make it entirely fundable, and sustainable - it's happening all over the world and it can happen here... let's do it the best. I'm in on the planning - who else? 

    This Steel City has a Media Center

    Pittsburgh is a place with a Media Center.


    Looks like a nice model. 



    Alex P. Michaels

    Expanding the Knight Movie Studio Incubator

    Update on Media Arts Center

    I agree the Pitts model has good concepts - I'm using their website for a general description of what a media center does. So what do we want your media center to look like. What type of building? How many square feet of what? What part of town? What amenities? Think of the media center as the anchor of a neighborhood - public screening room, computer labs, classes and workshops, 24x7 access and activity - the hub of new media activity.


    I discussed the media center idea further with Kent State Urban Design Collaborative East Cleveland project manager David Reed (who was at the film roundtable and is developing the master plan for East Cleveland) and David certainly will push to put it in East Cleveland - the Mayor and President of Council in East Cleveland have already been proposed the idea and love it. There are many surplus properties in East Cleveland - industrial, commercial and residential - and plenty of vacant land - if any of that can be used to support the film industry that city is on board. I'll detail next steps there.


    Gary Norton, the President of the East Cleveland City Council, is also assistant to Cuyahoga County Commissioner Lawson-Jones, so in briefing Gary on the Media Center project for the city, I also briefed him for the County. We can certainly expect the county support, which will be considerable.


    I also discussed this project last night with the City of Cleveland Technology Czar, Michael DeAloia, and he is entirely supportive. He is working on a new media project for MTV and many new media initiatives with OneCleveland and other area technology leaders and all want to see rapid growth here in film/video production - this provides the content that justifies the technology we are making a regional strength. We have the complete support of Michael, Cleveland and the entire and very powerful technology industry in NEO.


    The last piece of the puzzle I need to put in place is the financial structure. This will need funding to get rolling and must become sustainable. But, as part of developing the film industry here, the entire industry needs easier access to funding, so I see funding the Media Arts Center as part of funding the industry - infrastructure and film projects. So we need to line up millions, just like we do for all the other industry clusters. At least with a Media arts center, film will have a center to fund (like BioEnterprise for BioTech, CAMP for manufacturing).

    Planning a Media Arts Center

    Dear Norm,


    Sounds like a lot of work, but possible and very beneficial. Let me know if you need any help. I am working  on my Studio Incubator, but it will be good to have as many entites as we can in this area to bring about the Film Industry.  One place or one idea will not do it alone. Also there should be some sort of thread that connects the different entites (Like the Media Arts Center).  The funding for any endeavor is key of course.


    I have an Event to go to tonight, but hope to talk to you tomorrow.


    Again, if I can help in any way, let me know.






    Alex P. Michaels

    Expanding the Knight Movie Studio Incubator