“Learn how to be not just consumers but creators of their own media” – Interview with Gretjen Clausing, Executive Director of PhillyCAM
Photo courtesy of Gretjen Clausing.
At the Bartol Foundation, we strive to connect teaching artists with resources to help them develop their skills and build valuable relationships within the community. 2018 Bartol grantee PhillyCAM is a community media center that brings together the people of Philadelphia to make and share media that promotes creative expression, democratic values, and civic participation.
Read our interview with Gretjen Clausing, Executive Director, to learn more about PhillyCAM’s resources and how you can get involved.
Can you tell us a bit about PhillyCAM?
PhillyCAM is a community media center. We operate the public access television channels for the city of Philadelphia, and we also are the license holder of an FM radio station, WPPM 106.5. At the core of what we do is providing Philadelphians—particularly those who have not typically had access—with opportunities to express themselves, tell their stories, or cover an issue in their community through media.
We offer training and access to folks who are interested in learning how to use video or audio to create their own non-commercial content, to then be shared on our cable channels or radio station. We offer classes in video, television, and audio production. People can learn how to operate a television studio, how to edit video using Adobe Premiere, or how to be a radio show producer. We also have an after-school youth media program that is open to young people age 14 to 21. Participants can take classes in media-making, and they also get introduced to media literacy concepts and learn how to be not just consumers but creators of their own media.
What types of resources are available to PhillyCAM community members, and what’s the process for accessing them?
PhillyCAM is a membership organization. We have over 800 members, both individuals and nonprofit organizations. To become a member, we ask that folks attend a free info session to tour our facilities, which is kind of like a “first date” to see if it’s something that you’re interested in. An individual membership is $30 per year, and a nonprofit membership is on a sliding scale based on budget ranging from $40 to $275 per year. Once PhillyCAM members have gone through the introductory Community Media Workshop, they then have access to our programs and resources, including three television studios and a media lab where folks can learn how to edit their own projects.
It’s important to note that all of the spaces and equipment that our members have access to are in support of them creating content for PhillyCAM’s television channel or radio station. But it is your content, so the exciting thing is that you can then use [the content you produce for PhillyCAM] however you want. We help our organizational members produce content to feature their organization, such as a public service announcement or a documentation of a performance. In addition to building capacity within your organization by teaching staff how to make their own media, we are supporting you in creating something that you can share on your website or social media to demonstrate your work.
What are some of the ways that teaching artists can use PhillyCAM’s resources in their practice? How can interested teaching artists learn more?
I think teaching artists would be able to benefit from being part of a creative community. The thing that’s really unique about PhillyCAM is that you have these volunteers who are incredibly passionate about using media to express their ideas, and media is inherently something that you need to do with other people. Folks are oftentimes looking for a crew and support on their projects, and then in turn they can also support you in creating your projects. We really try to create a learning community amongst all of our members.
What I think would be exciting is if teaching artists use our facilities to demonstrate their practice and share that with our viewing and listening audiences. To get a better idea of our resources, I would encourage teaching artists to visit the Watch and Listen sections of our website to acquaint themselves with the content that our members have created. Around 80% of our members identify as creating content related to arts and culture, so there are a lot of really tremendous performances and interviews with Philadelphia-based artists.
Interview responses have been edited for length and clarity.