Rockefeller Foundation (and, it should be noted, to many artists in the early 1970s), these issues were not as important as artists getting access to equipment and broadcast.
It is an unwritten rule of the Rockefeller Foundation that it cannot fund any one program with core support for more than several years, in order to prevent stagnation in programs and to allow for a broad spectrum of recipients. When the time came to pull out of the TV lab (after six years of core support), John Knowles, then president of the Rockefeller Foundation and a prime supporter of the funding of video, called a meeting designed to help facilitate new funding for the lab. "it involved PBS, CPB, WGBH, and WNET," says Klein, and John Knowles said "We cannot continue to fund this forever. We think it is a very important thing to do, but as we make the announcement that our grants are going to diminish, we want to tell you people so that you will be able to do something." Even when put on the spot, CPB offered only a few grants to the lab and then refused to take up the role the Rockefeller Foundation had relinquished. The lab officially closed in 1984. The demise of the TV lab and scaling down of the New Television Workshop were also the result of policy decisions, broadcast structures, and changing times. As the community diversified and artists gained other opportunities to produce work, the central importance these programs had held in the early years simply diminished. And public television itself was becoming increasingly tight and stodgy. Loxton states,
Probably one of the most important statements to make about the role of the Rockefeller Foundation is that public television has largely become, in its absence, the perfect example of what happens when committees make decisions. The decision-making process in public television is now a committee process, which means that by definition, the more people you get involved in a decision the less innovative the result is going to be. You get four or five different funders, with all of their vested interests, coming together to fund a program, and you also end up with the lowest common denominator of programming. You don't have a Rockefeller or a Howard Klein saying, "Here's a chunk of money, you don't have to go and find anyone else to support this. Give Nam June $30,000 and tell him to make something wonderful with it. Don't worry what CPB or some corporation wants." It was a glorious luxury.
The fostering of artists' television by the Rockefeller Foundation was not limited to public television workshops; it also included several projects under the auspices of other kinds of cultural organizations. In 1976, the foundation gave a grant to the State University of New York (SUNY) to undertake a study of the possibility of the university system producing arts programming for television. Through the Albany-based office of Programs in Arts, which produces arts events and programs for the SUNY university system, the
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