Spotlight on Org Partner: The Alliance

alliance-dinner-party-project-gathering

Recently Emily Bailin Wells recently interviewed Jason Wyman, Program Producer and Wendy Levy, Executive Director for The Alliance (formerly known as NAMAC).

When did your organization launch and why?

NAMAC was founded in 1980 by an eclectic group of media arts organization leaders who realized they could strengthen their social and cultural impact by working as a united force. Their idea was as bold as it was simple: to create a national organization that would provide support services to its institutional members, and advocate for the field as a whole. Since its founding, NAMAC has worked to raise the profile and influence of the media arts on behalf of its growing and changing membership. Today, NAMAC welcomes individuals across disciplines, local, regional and national media nonprofits, international NGOs and strategic partners from all sectors as we move into a collaborative, creative future.

What does your organization do? What are your main goals or Main projects?

The ALLIANCE facilitates collaboration, strategic growth, innovation and cultural impact for the media arts field. We believe in a world where media artists and organizations are essential and undeniable leaders in a thriving creative economy. Towards that end, we offer programs, resources and tools for the field – media arts organizations, nonprofits, and independent artists alike – that develop creative leadership, explore interdisciplinary collaboration, seed innovation, build communities and support social justice. Our main “projects” are essentially field-building initiatives: Creative Leadership Lab, Innovation Studio, HatchLabs, Youth Media Network, Creative Workforce Development and the ALLIANCE Biennial Conference.

What makes your organization stand out? What would you say is the most unique thing about your organization?

The ALLIANCE is a member organization committed to intergenerational, inclusive and collaborative practices. Perhaps most unique is that we are a nonprofit organized as a “distributed consultancy.” With no bricks-and-mortar footprint, this structure enables high impact with very little overhead. Our programs are run by experienced consulting producers at the top of their fields; our goal is to create program and resource models that can be replicated to connect and serve artists and communities anywhere in the world.

What are recent projects or new resources that your organization would like to share with other NAMLE members?

In 2017, The Alliance will continue its Collective Action Initiative for the Youth Media and Creative Youth Development Fields through three main activities.

  • The 50-State Dinner Party Project, an intentional concept and planning phase for the Initiative bringing together youth, adults, and elders over a shared meal. Each Dinner Party explores the question “What are our desired futures?” The events are sponsored by local organizations and/or individuals and have been held in public media centers, storefronts, libraries, and even private homes. If you would like to host a dinner, or even just want to know more visit this web page.

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  • ALLIANCE Video Roundtables are a platform for virtual connection and collaboration. In 2017, the ALLIANCE Youth Media Network will convene peer educators, organizational leaders and artists to dive into innovative organizational and programmatic practices happening at member organizations across the country, and move more intentionally into Collective Action. All are invited. These discussions happen on the last Wednesday of February (2/22), April (4/, June, August, and October from 10am to 11:30am PST. To sign up for the Video Roundtables, email Jason Wyman at jason@namac.org.

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  • The Alliance is proudly partnering with Youth Media Reporter to produce a companion journal that expands on our 50-State Dinner Party Project’s central theme of Our Desired Futures. A call for submissions occurred in late Fall 2016, and over 15 articles, lesson plans, media, and/or photo essays were submitted that examine the question, “How does TIME (past/present/future) show up in our bodies, movements, work, and field?” The Journal will be published on the Youth Media Reporter website late March 2017. For more information about the Journal, please email Myah Overstreet at myah@namac.org.

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What are the connections between the work of your organization and media literacy?

Media literacy (and literacy in general) is core to youth media and creative youth development. Both fields empower young people to share their truths and employ media (both as the frame of the story [video, meme, podcast, etc.] and as a communication platform [i.e. SnapChat, Instagram, Tumblr, etc.]) to broadcast those truths. Thus, media literacy is crucial to the development of better stories that convey the complexity of the human condition and help youth share their stories in a manner that is true for them.

Why is media literacy important to you?

As stories and truths are increasingly told across mobile platforms, understanding the very basics of media literacy — who created the media, why was it created, who is it for, what are the visual messages — become even more crucial to the development of critical thinking. Our society and our world need more people who can construct, deconstruct, and reconstruct narratives, stories, and truths in a manner that reveals the complexity of our reality and moves us all towards more empathy, compassion, and care. Media literacy is a tool that helps cultivate a desired future where, as Brandon Jent from Appalshop (one of The Alliances’s members) puts it is “fair and true to all people of all bodies in all regions.”

Is there anything else you would like to tell us about your organization, your mission, or your staff?

We have included some to articles that may interest NAMLE members:
http://www.namac.org/let-us-cover-world-gold-youth-media
http://www.namac.org/what-are-our-desired-futures/ http://www.indiewire.com/2016/12/documentaries-trump-liberal-bubble-sundance-1201758290/
http://artists-speak-out.tumblr.com/
ALLIANCE videos
Conference Highlights: http://www.namac.org/screening-room/?zoombox=2
What is a HatchLab: http://www.namac.org/screening-room/?zoombox=1

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