There were small grants that made a huge difference and large sums of money on projects that did not succeed. Klein has always been very direct about the kind of work he likes and doesn't like, and that he chose to fund work he thought was the most important for the field in general. His view of what was important work had an impact on what was produced and supported in video art. Beyond these questions, however, is a larger and perhaps unanswerable one. Would Klein's program have had the same central influence and would his role as a supporter and behind-the-scenes negotiator been the same H he had awarded grants through panels?
By the time there were finished works from the 1981 fellowships, it became clear that the program had failed to gain any momentum before the climate at the foundation had changed. The effect of overall foundation policy changes on the funding of the arts was directly felt in 1983, when Lyman combined the arts and humanities programs (separated in 1973 by Knowles), in response to the feeling by the board of trustees that there was too much fragmentation in the foundation. This meant a loss of autonomy for Klein. He was made deputy director for arts and humanities under Alberta Arthurs of the humanities program. He says,
Lyman was probably interested in seeing if you combined arts and humanities whether you could come up with a hybrid program which is arts-humanities, but it didn't happen. We tried; we talked about it. But at that point Alberta Arthurs did not want to change the arts program, and her intention and accomplishment was simply to preserve all of the programs that I had put into place. Foundations do this all the time. They have five-year reviews, they restructure.
However, for media, all of these policy changes meant, by and large, the suspension of a substantial amount of funding. Grants that were made in the early 1980s by the foundation stemmed from previous commitments made to certain institutions and individuals. Klein recalls,
It became more and more difficult to do more in video because the administration wasn't interested. They didn't think it was important. It's the same university bias (many of the trustees are academics) against television that made universities forfeit the opportunity they had in the beginnings of public television when they owned the stations.
If anything, Klein himself displayed a pro-television bias throughout his tenure at the foundation. He notes that when Robert Ashley came to him about a film project on composers, he was the one who suggested Ashley do it on video (which he did). Klein made a decision early in the 1970s to fund video instead of film. "For all of those years I felt that the foundation should concentrate only on video because nobody else did." This became an issue in San Francisco with the initiation of BAVC, because the local filmmaking community was angry that the coalition was designated as specifically for video. By the early 1980s, however, Klein felt video was sufficiently established, and he was one of the
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