Getting down with VIPA at Fayetteville Public Access Television | Street Jazz

Getting down with VIPA at Fayetteville Public Access Television

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“Community exists when a group of people share geography, values, experiences, expectations or beliefs. Their connection may be voluntary or involuntary. Sometimes we are simply born into a community. A person can be a member of many different communities." David Diamond.

I don’t usually join things, but VIPA is one of those groups that I have begun to feel pretty strongly about. Strongly enough, about, in fact, to officially “join.”

What is VIPA?

Well, a few years ago - way back in the 20th Century - some producers at Fayetteville’s Community Access Television got together and formed the Video Independent Producers Association.

Not quite a union, but still, the members try to look out for each other, and to keep track of the ongoing events at public access Television, and stay informed.

VIPA members had a hand when the PEG (Public, Education and Government) Center formed an “Equipment Committee” some years back. After all, who knows more about equipment than those who use it on a regular basis?

Occasionally they have informal pot-lucks when folks with an interest in video and public access (and it’s surprising how often the two meet!) can get together and just enjoy other’s company and share ideas.

This Saturday, from 10am - 1pm (rough estimate) there will be a VIPA potluck at Fayetteville Public Access Television (101 W. Rock - corner of Rock and Block) in the studio. Feel free to bring a dish and an insane idea or two.

It’s sort of amazing that VIPA has lasted so long; when stations across the country attempt to form such groups on a more formal basis they usually peter out after a while.

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Even after 30 years, public access can still be threatened

In recent days Albuquerque’s public access TV channels went off the air after 30 years - ironically, the same amount of time that we have enjoyed public access in Fayetteville.

Fortunately, in Fayetteville, community support for public access has always been high, and people have long recognized its value to the community. When funding is threatened, one thing can be counted on - aldermen will get lots of phone calls and emails.

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This is when things get scary at public access

Listening to board members who don’t actually watch the channel very much start talking about “improving quality” is sort of like watching a shark’s fin in the water - a very dim-witted shark, at that.

These sort of people don’t understand what public access is, for one, and two, well, they should actually watch the channel, and appreciate the hard work that people do, considering the resources they have.

And sometimes you have board members who take up the “quality” banner, not realizing that the name of the game is free speech, and giving everyone access to the airwaves.

As a former board member at Community Access Television, I have seen these individuals come and go, and have seen these board members destroy morale faster than any city budget cuts ever could.

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Quote of the Day

A citizen of America will cross the ocean to fight for democracy, but won’t cross the street to vote in a national election. - — Bill Vaughan

rsdrake@cox.net

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