City-owned Corvallis Access Media has a new coordinator, but the future of community television in town remains murky.
Chad Howard of the Majestic Theatre is now supervising CAM’s operations, but public access advocates say his part-time position is not enough to make the channel a success.
Howard replaced Trev DeTal, who served six months in the position after the channel, formerly operated in conjunction with the Corvallis School District, became part of the Majestic operation. DeTal resigned Jan. 10, citing frustrations over city support and the restrictions of his part-time status.
The Majestic itself is new to city supervision, joining the Parks and Recreation Department in 2015 after its nonprofit management team experienced budget difficulties.
“I understand folks are frustrated, but one of the real issues with CAM (and CCAT before it) is a lack of perspective in the volunteer and user base,” said Jimbo Ivy, theatre supervisor of the Majestic. “Folks are demanding things without stopping to appreciate the facts of the situation, or the status of the organizations trying to get CAM functional.”
Ivy hosted a pair of public forums on CAM’s future Feb. 18 and Feb. 21, with 25 residents participating. Ivy discussed the history of the channel (see the online version of the story), answered questions and led brainstorming sessions on the channel’s future. Ivy emphasized that if the city had not taken over the network's operation, the channel would have ceased operations.
Key questions going forward, Ivy said, were “how do we create a program that will grow and thus be worthy of additional funding from public sources? And in the meantime, how do we provide for the expenses we do have?”
A crucial component, Ivy said, will be volunteers. Ivy noted that the Majestic is bolstered by more than 2,000 volunteers who put in 68,000 hours per year. Ivy plans to form volunteer committee to handle funding, revenue, education, outreach and development, administration and production.
Howard will handle the uploading and scheduling of content and checking out equipment for community use, Ivy said.
Local video producer Nancy Neumann developed a proposal for CAM that calls for a full-time director at a salary of $55,000 per year plus benefits as well as additional funding to pay for storage and studio spaces.
“I think the proposal would be amazing if it came to be,” Ivy said. “However, given the current funding situation, it just isn’t possible.”
Neumann submitted her plan to the city, and it was discussed at a Feb. 23 City Council work session. Another local filmmaker, Susan Salveson, spoke in favor of Neumann’s plan during the community comments section of the work session.
According to the minutes of the meeting, City Manager Mark Shepard advised Salveson to bring the proposal to the Majestic and the city’s Budget Commission, while adding that there would be no funding increase for DeTal/Howard position proposed in the 2017-18 budget.
Ivy, who said he is open to scheduling future forums, admitted that “the road has not been smooth (for CAM), but now is the time for the CAM volunteers to engage the Majestic and become a part of it.”