Rockefeller Foundation initiated the SUNY/The Arts on Television project. Produced by Patricia Kerr Ross, director of Programs in the Arts, this project received over $600,000 from the foundation from 1979 to 1983 to produce a broad range of programs for public television.
The initiation of the SUNY program is a good example of Klein's quiet influence on the direction of a program. When Ross came to see Klein about her program, he suggested that she explore the media arts. The question posed by Klein was, Since SUNY, like many universities, has both artists and television studios, would it be possible for the university to think of itself as a producer of television programming for the arts? After initially funding a study of the equipment situation at SUNY, the foundation supported the production of a large number of works, including a film of a new Samuel Beckett play, Rockaby (1981) by D.A. Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus, Re: Soundings (1981) by Kit Fitzgerald and John Sanborn, The West (1984) by Steina Vasulka, and other films and tapes on artists who were involved with SUNY, many of which were shown on public television in New York State and several on national broadcast. The SUNY program produced a group of interesting artistic works for television. Ultimately however, it did not utilize the base of the university in the way Klein had hoped. He explains:
A number of the programs that they produced were university performances, for example a wonderful documentary on Elliot Carter with a musical group in Buffalo, which was the kind of project that I was wondering if it would be possible for them to do.... They went outside for the technical people and ultimately they went outside for the artists as well. They had a lot of trouble developing a series and getting on the air. The question that I was asking was, Can a university be a major programming center for public television? If not, why not? And we learned. You see, there is no intrinsic reason why not, but there are political reasons.
Klein was also involved in supporting an extensive university-based program of visiting artists, which was engineered by Douglas Davis initially as the Video Curriculum Development Project through the Kansas City Art Institute and then through Davis's own International Network for the Arts. The project began as a response to the fact that no video courses were being offered in art schools. While the foundation had funded NCET to go into schools and do workshops, their approach was primarily image-processing oriented. The Video Curriculum Development Project was designed to teach video as an art form, and it arranged workshops with visiting artists in a broad range of schools in the U.S. and (later, as the International Network for the Arts) in foreign countries.
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