and response: You start with a philosophy about philanthropy, that a foundation does not exist to support the status quo, and then you contact people and tell them the way you think and invite them to be part of that thinking. You challenge them to come up with ideas that will challenge the foundation. So you have an entrepreneurial attitude, but not an entrepreneurial office in the sense of calling people up and telling them what to do.
Klein was always trying to get a handle on the general trends of the video community and the most interesting work, and he would call periodic meetings with artists to explore new directions. By the mid-1970s, it was becoming obvious that the video community was expanding rapidly, and that it simply was not possible for the foundation to fund adequately a large number of artists in a field in which new advances in technology were always necessitating equipment upgrading. A certain number of the funding decisions Klein made can be seen as posing the question of how to fund a large number of artists with essentially limited funds.
I was beset from all angles: give us this, give us that. I talked very closely to people like Nam June, Russell Connor, Fred Barzyk, and a whole cast of characters that I was in pretty frequent contact with. In 1975, for instance, I decided that I needed to have a panel meeting, so I brought in a group with Steina Vasulka, Douglas Davis, and others, and I asked them, "What are this common denominators? What can the foundation do that will be the most help to the most number of artists?" And they said, "Well, everybody needs a time base corrector." So we gave a few $10,000 equipment grants for time-base correctors.
The most visible way in which Klein pursued this philosophy was in helping to establish major non-profit post-production facilities around the country. Significant amounts of funding were given by the Rockefeller Foundation during the 1970s specifically to support the purchase of video equipment, either to establish exhibition programs or to initiate or revamp editing facilities. Even as late as 1981, Klein gave a total of $300,000 across the board to eight media arts centers throughout the country. This money was significant enough to lead many artists to think that the Rockefeller Foundation had become interested in funding only equipment and not artists. The fact is, though, that this bulk of funding was responsible for giving the independent video community a boost in terms of establishing it firmly on a technical basis. Without the money provided by the foundation, the equipment used by artists throughout the country would have been of significantly less advanced quality, and the fact that no foundation has followed in this policy has led to an equipment crisis in the field of independent media.
A look at the grant list shows the fallacy of the notion that the foundation funded individual artists until the mid-1970s and then began funding only equipment. Not only were very few individual artists grants awarded before the mid-1970s, but a large
-->> next page