Annual Report 2009: Change Yields Focus

by Ken Ikeda, Executive Director

Truthfully, 2009 was a blur. BAVC seemed to sprint through the year, guided by a new strategic plan that emphasizes: the promotion of online learning and media management; timely innovation and knowledge dissemination; diversification of public broadcasting and public media, best practices and evaluation; and strengthening of the media and technology capacity of nonprofit/governmental organizations. The multi-year framework of our new plan has provided us a foundation from which to manage our continuous change efforts and to balance the need to rebuild our internal capacity and infrastructure with a strategic effort to reposition BAVC's value as an organization.

We can look back at 2009 and recognize that we are now a very different organization from just a year ago. Amidst the worst economic downturn of our lifetime, we were forced to gain a better understanding of ourselves. Why do we do this work? What makes us relevant? Why BAVC? The mission statement that ended 2008 and launched 2009 provided a reminder and renewed focus on why we do the work we do - to inspire social change by enabling the sharing of diverse stories through art, education and technology. We believe stories transform lives, promote understanding, and celebrate experience. We also believe that stories can organize movements, create proximity to issues, and translate emotion to engagement and investment in social change. For these reasons, media literacy and an understanding of media's capacity to change are basic social competencies in support of meaningful participation in today's society and the workplace. It is why media training is valuable to companies as different as Safeway and Apple. It is why our Next Gen youth programs continue to manage lengthy wait lists. And it is why BAVC was pulled into conversation with federal agencies as diverse as the Federal Communications Commission and the National Science Foundation.

It is why in just three short years, BAVC's Producers Institute for New Media Technologies has extended its reach beyond the Bay Area to presentations in Australia, New Zealand, the UK, and a standing place within Sundance Film Festival's New Frontier panels. The United Nations sought our consultation to assist NGO's to strategize on new media initiatives, and we continue to prepare for the launch of a New York City-based Producers Institute. We expanded our reach in 2009, but our focus has never been clearer.

Being Connected

Our Next Generation programs for youth began over twelve years ago and while thousands of at-risk young people have benefited from our work, we sometimes forget how far our investment in the lives of participants extends.

Anais Kane, a recent graduate of BUMP Records is a freshman at the Clive Davis School of Recorded Music at New York University. In October, we learned that she was in a financial bind that threatened her ability to remain in school and pay for her living space. There was a tremendous response on behalf of this remarkably determined young woman, who had lived in France, Ireland, and Senegal before joining our family in Oakland, CA. Staff pooled resources to support her daily food and transportation needs and we collectively reached out to our networks to find her additional employment. NYU revised her scholarship and loan terms, relieved some expenses, and the National Black Programming Consortium (NPBC) hired Anais. To our friends at NBPC, we'll get you back. And thank you.

We cannot overstate how critical it is that youth allow themselves to imagine life beyond their immediate environments and assume the risk of the journey. I marvel in their courage and ambition. And I am constantly grateful for the devotion of our staff.

Best practices in research have never valued the extra effort and investment of staff in feeding, driving home, asking friends for favors, and advocating on behalf of those whom we serve. Lasting relationships emerge from simple interactions at BAVC. I'd like to celebrate the commitment of the staff for caring that much and delivering, always. We're defining real-world best practices.

It's what we do. It's how we do. We're lucky to be doing the work we do.

New To The Line Up

In September of 2009, BAVC assumed operations of public access television in San Francisco. In short, we were intent on making "public media" for the public again. Its been at once transformative and challenging. We are learning as we go and we have perhaps never faced such a steep learning curve in such a short period of time. The facility renovations, the return to content production, the growth of the organization to a broader public, and the opportunity to function as a broadcaster has been invigorating. It has breathed new life into our programs and provided new opportunities for cross-departmental programming.

On the Verge

When a fifteen-year-old identifies him or herself as a poet, emcee, visual artist, scholar, activist and entrepreneur, I smile. How can they be so sure of themselves and put so much in front of themselves? I may never acquire that level of confidence, but as someone who has the fortune to boast about the diverse collection of people and programs that are BAVC, I can honestly say that we are on the verge of reaching a new organizational potential, with new value and in new communities. We're feeling confident in how we have evolved the past several years, and we are ready to walk the walk of ideas that have been driving us to this point. We are more than ready to deliver on our mission and on our community's investment in this organization.

Saying "Thank You" is never enough and so I hope that you will recognize our gratitude reflected in how we conduct our work, how we extend ourselves to honor our mission, and how we've learned answers to questions like "Why do we do this work? What makes us relevant? Why BAVC?"