In this section we will provide background on each of the communities involved in this project: public media, performing arts, K-12 schools and people with disabilities. In addition, we will outline needs, project provisions, and expected outcomes for each community.
A. PUBLIC MEDIA BACKGROUND AND NEEDS
The integration of radio, television and the Internet is at the cutting edge in the commercial sector. Yet in the public sector, this fusion is tenuous at best.
Public media has historically been concerned with providing broadcast mechanisms for local creative expression and alternative information. They pride themselves in grassroots-generated content. Yet traditional radio and TV are limited in both the amount of programming they can make available, as well as the reach of that programming. In addition, their operational models are based largely on one-way broadcast of information. Internet-based community networks, the new form of public media, have largely been focused on interactive models of local information sharing. Yet their information has mostly included only text and graphics.
Committed partners on this project include community television stations, a specialized radio broadcaster for the blind, Internet-based community networks, and university-based Internet, radio and TV broadcast stations.
The needs of public media include: 1) mechanisms for traditional media to broaden their reach; 2) broader community participation in and around content; 3) working models for organizationally and technologically integrating public media; 4) affordable means for community networks to incorporate video and audio into their Web sites; and 5) assistance for radio reading services for visually and print handicapped in moving to computer-based recording and broadcast.
The project will provide: 1) technical training for staff and volunteers on digitizing and uploading video and audio to community TV/Radio on-site servers; 2) a computer for digitizing video and audio and a Real Video server at each traditional media site; 3) assistance with facilitating relationships among public media staff and volunteers for creative new integrated public media products; 4) training for production site staff on server administration; 5) computer equipment and technical support to assist the radio reading service in transitioning to computer-based production and Internet audio streaming; 6) central server support from the university for those rural areas currently without fast enough connections to serve video.
The anticipated outcomes include: 1) three community television (or radio) stations, including one rural site, each with one Real Video production computer and one Real Video server; 2) staff and volunteers at each production site trained on equipment use; 3) at least one staff member at each site trained on server administration; 4) live performing arts content available via the Internet as stations stream their regular arts programming in addition to digitizing performances put online by participating project artists; 5) Digitized video/audio content from at least 100 performing artists and arts organizations done by community TV partners (rural site to be selected month nine); 6) an additional 40 full performing arts Web sites with additional video/audio links; 7) all partnering public media will work together to establish relationships and create three sustainable and "fully integrated" public media products (i.e. Performing arts broadcasts from radio and TV stream live through a common Web site which includes links to electronic bulletin boards where K-12 school kids discuss the programs with guest artists. Online discussions are integrated back into the production of radio and TV programs).
B. PERFORMING ARTS COMMUNITIES BACKGROUND AND NEEDS
A 1996 Colorado Council on the Arts telephone survey of 70 performing artists found that more than half the respondents were enthusiastic about digitizing samples of their work for a database. Yet, they were concerned about their ability to afford the equipment, obtain the necessary training, and reach their target audiences. They also expressed a strong desire to network with their peers in the performing arts, especially to share technical information and to locate hard-to-find items like stage props and costumes. These needs continue to surface in the performing arts.
The "Open Studio: The Arts Online" project funded by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Benton Foundation expanded the state-wide arts Web site "Arts to Zoo." While visual artists working with Open Studio have made progress with making their work available via the Internet, performing artists lag far behind. Performing artists face greater barriers than their counterparts in the visual arts. Performing artists, in addition to learning about the Internet, must hurdle financial and technical barriers of recording and then digitizing their artistry.
The performing arts community needs: 1) a means to reach out to new audience members; 2) mechanisms for connecting with other artists and arts organizations; and 3) financial and technical assistance with documenting and presenting their work.
The Project will provide: 1) three public media production sites and technical assistance for capturing and digitizing performances; 2) transfer of an existing artist registry to an online site and linking of video and/or audio samples from listed artists; 3) training of 80 artists, including 20 artists with disabilities, to use electronic bulletin boards and e-mail to communicate with fellow artists and online audience members; and 4) 60 Web site development awards for artists and arts organizations.
The anticipated outcomes include: 1) Ten active moderated bulletin boards connected to the Arts to Zoo Colorado Web site. Moderation and technical support will be provided by Journalism students and a project graduate research assistant; 2) 140 Colorado artists and arts organizations with digitized performances and/or performance samples online; 3) a three percent increase in rural artist residencies; 4) 20 percent of artist residency schools indicating online performing arts use.
C. K-12 EDUCATION AND THE ARTS BACKGROUND AND NEEDS
Colorado has a diverse and creative store of artists; yet our schools, especially those located in rural areas, do not necessarily have access to their artistry. The 1997 publication "Creative America: A Report to the President" found that many of the 15,000 U.S. school districts are "arts impoverished." At home in Colorado, the Denver ratio of music teachers to students is 1 to 700. Twenty percent of Coloradans (733,000) live more than two hours driving distance from Denver -- the governmental and arts capital. The 176 school districts set their own graduation requirements creating great variation in arts curriculum between districts.
Visiting artist residencies and teacher training on arts and curriculum help to fill some of these gaps. Still, educators and school administrators, especially those in rural areas, are often not aware of the benefits and availability of these residencies and are not sure what to expect. In addition to these programs, Colorado K-12 schools are supplementing classrooms with distance learning technologies. The Weld County Board of Cooperative Education Services (BOCES) is currently implementing an Internet project in Northeastern Colorado. This region of the state is primarily agricultural and includes many remote small towns. BOCES is providing 33 K-12 teachers with equipment and training on basic Internet skills and using the Net in their classrooms.
Colorado K-12 schools need: 1) teacher assistance with integrating online performing arts content and related online bulletin boards into lesson plans; 2) dynamic performing artists in their schools; and 3) training on how to incorporate the creative process and arts into all classrooms.
This project will provide: 1) online samples of visiting artists residencies. These samples would assist teachers in understanding how artist residencies could be incorporated into their own schools. 2) availability via the Internet of performing arts audio/video content integrated into an existing Colorado Arts Web site; 3) development of online lesson plans integrating online performing arts and incorporation of lesson plans into an existing "teacher training" program; 4) a graduate student to work with 40 rural teachers coordinated by BOCES to integrate online performing arts content into their lesson plans.
The anticipated outcomes include: 1) 10 rural classrooms actively participating in online arts discussion forums; 2) 20 teachers who have adopted lesson plans developed through this project; 3) 20 online lesson plans which incorporate performing arts content developed through this project; and 4) 110 teachers trained to use online performing arts resources.
D. DISABILITY COMMUNITIES BACKGROUND AND NEEDS
One in seven people living in the United States has a disability. It is estimated that 70 percent of these people live on fixed incomes at or below poverty level. Even for those with more resources, access to cultural enrichment is challenging. For those with mobility challenges, much of the day may be spent at home.
People who are blind, visually impaired, or have difficulty turning a printed page may turn to broadcasts like those produced by the Radio Reading Service of the Rockies for general news and entertainment. Yet the quality and reach of the signal received over cable and special reception boxes greatly varies. Another means for access to events and culture, and interaction with others, is through the Internet. Computing of any kind requires adaptive technologies such as text-to-audio translation software. Access to the Web requires translators like "WebSpeak." Even for those who own computers, getting them to interface with the Web is a challenge. And most Web sites are not "listener friendly." They pop up with translations such as: "Welcome to the image. Please select one of our topical areas below. Image Image Image Image". When there is no text to describe a graphic, the listener who cannot see must guess what appears on the screen.
The disability communities need: 1) for those with mobility barriers, mechanisms like e-mail through which they can have greater contact with other people; 2) help with developing their own artistic talents and provisions of outlets for those talents; 3) greater understanding from the fully-abled communities about their experiences, issues and special challenges; and 4) for those with vision impairments, access to listener friendly Web sites.
The Project will provide: 1) a focus on people with disabilities as artists themselves as well as arts as a means for educating about people with disabilities; 2) small grants averaging $300 each for organizations and individuals to purchase technical assistance, hardware (i.e. RAM) and software (i.e. PC WebSpeak) to ready existing computers for Internet access and streaming audio/video, and coordinated by state disabilities and arts organizations; 3) specially trained technical volunteers to provide free assistance for all grantees; 4) free Internet access through a front range community network (grantees outside the local calling area may request up to $100 of an award to cover short-term Internet Service Provider expenses); 5) access for all applicants to a state-of-the-art adaptive computer equipment lab and associated staff at the University of Colorado for training and needs assessment; and 6) a Web site oriented toward increasing awareness of disability communities through the performing arts; 7) promotion of artist residency in K-12 schools selection process to artists with disabilities; and 8) at least 10 percent of artist Web site development awards to people with disabilities.
The anticipated outcomes include: 1) 40 people with mobility challenges (i.e. people who are blind or have multiple sclerosis) access and use the Internet; 2) five artists with disabilities apply to peer reviewed artist residency selection process; 3) two online performances incorporating education about people with disabilities; 4) six teachers incorporate the above mentioned digitized performances into a lesson plan; and 5) a listener friendly arts Web site receiving at least 50 hits per week.
This project is innovative both in its integration of established public broadcast media and the unique organizational partnerships forged to facilitate community access to video/audio digitizing and streaming technology. Most significantly, it models partnerships that are needed to affordably use new Internet technologies to engage isolated rural school kids and people with disabilities around performing arts. At the same time, it helps artists cross technological barriers which keep them from using the Internet to reach new audiences. With the expansion of community networking and the well established presence of public media across the United States, this project presents a model which will be transferable -- even on a small scale -- in communities across the nation. While our focus is the performing arts, the infrastructure is available for any audio or video content.
This project takes a distinctly different approach than other performing arts and media projects. The Yerba Buena Garden Studios project funded in 1997 by TIIAP put production equipment in the hands of school children. Our project builds upon already established facilities and training protocols for community access production of video and audio broadcast products. In addition, our project is distinct from the Very Special Arts Massachusetts 1997 TIIAP project. Like Massachusetts, we focus on Internet access for people with disabilities. But this project also incorporates people with disabilities as artists themselves and arts as a means for educating about disabilities. Collaborations between public media organizations developed by this project will make potentially expensive video/audio Web content production as easily accessible to the general public as it is to the commercial sector.
A. TECHNICAL APPROACH
Interoperability: This project uses standard Internet and broadcast protocols. The infrastructure is immediately available to other content areas such as digitizing an area oral history project archived at a local library.
Scalability: Because this project is layered upon an established technical infrastructure of Internet and traditional public broadcast media, the project is easily expandable. The technical advisory group for the project has chosen to launch the third public media production site nine months into the project to allow for evaluation and changes based on the experiences of the first two sites. Additional digitizing sites can be added for the nominal cost of a production PC or upgrades to current equipment. These sites could also be "serving sites" or transfer their digitized files to a central serving site in the School of Journalism. Because of the speed of University Internet connections, this site will mirror high traffic sites.
Technical Alternatives: The technical advisory committee decided on a decentralized serving model largely to disperse higher bandwidth demand of streaming video and audio -- though streaming technology takes up much less bandwidth (about 19K) than sending the files whole. Streaming breaks up the files into packets which stream across the network one after another. For production and serving computers, technical advisors chose to purchase Gateway computers running Windows 95 and NT because of preferences of the public media staff.
Maintaining the System: Public media stations will incorporate the costs of maintenance of the on-site and production equipment into budgets. During the grant period, staff will be trained to administer and troubleshoot the systems with ongoing assistance from university computing staff.
This project evolved out of conversations between the state arts agency and community networking leaders. Representing artists across the state, the agency was looking for partnerships that could make possible the use of media and technology to broaden the reach of the performing arts. The project is sustainable because it involves partners with proven track records and missions directly related to the goals of this project. The project provides the "grease on the wheel" for putting in motion social networks which will make standard practice the producing and digitizing of performing arts and other community content. Just as the non-profit Women's Coalition of Longmont, Colorado knew last month to come to the local community network for assistance with developing their first Web site; the practice of turning to the community TV and radio sites for creating audio or video files to link to Internet sites will also become standardized community practice. Internet-based community networks will serve as a liaison between recording/digitizing sites and community organizations wanting to supplement their Web pages with video or audio content. In addition, the University of Colorado is launching a multi-million dollar "Technology, Media and the Arts Center" to be completed by the year 2000. Creators have expressed interest in incorporating the "Public Media and Performing Arts" project into the programmatic aspect of the center. Bruce Henderson, one of the principal investigators on this grant proposal, is on the advisory committee for the center and will work with other committee members to build upon this current outreach project and the relationships established herein.
A. PARTNERSHIPS AND INVOLVEMENT OF THE COMMUNITY
The roles of each partner, as well as their expected contributions and benefits from this project are outlined in the attached letters of support. The ground work has been established for cooperation among partners through a series of planning meetings involving representatives of each partner organization. Two planning groups evolved: a public media group which also acted as part of the technical advisory team; and an arts and disabilities group. A community network staff member was present at all planning meetings and in this way served as the link between the groups. All partners provided input and changes through the various stages of the grant proposal preparation. Information about community needs was provided through project partners, survey research from the state arts agency, and data on Internet use by people with disabilities collected by a principal investigator on this proposal. Organization staff and volunteers have been critical in defining community needs and brainstorming creative mechanisms for meeting these needs. These mechanisms include not just innovative use of technology -- but also creative new partnerships with each other. Continued coordination and leadership for this project will come from the principal investigators.
B. SUPPORT FOR END USERS
K-12 students and teachers will be reached through already established mechanisms. An established teacher training aesthetic institute will incorporate the use of online performing arts content, including linked electronic bulletin boards, and lesson plans. A state education agency (BOCES) will connect a graduate student with teachers to assure schools use the online performing arts content. This agency is currently providing equipment, training, and connectivity for 33 teachers in Northeastern Colorado.
People with disabilities in this project are both artists and audience members. As audience members, they will receive small grants to help them get set up on the Internet to access online performing arts. As artists, they will receive assistance in Web site development. In addition, streaming radio reading service live broadcasts over the Internet will provide broader reach for this service.
Performing artists will have access to training classes coordinated by community networks. The partnering arts organizations will promote training to their associated artists. Artists will learn to use Internet tools like bulletin boards and e-mail mechanisms linked to the performing arts sites to communicate with each other and their audiences. They will also learn how to maintain their Web sites.
General public end use will be facilitated by community networks through general public orientations to the Internet which specifically highlight the newly developing Colorado performing arts content.
Privacy and confidentiality are not central issues for this project. Content integrity will be maintained via already established and functioning community network server-side security protocols. Password protections and limited directory access will guard Web pages from tampering. Online discussions will be open to the public.
This project is focused on disparities of access to arts for rural K-12 schools and people with disabilities. Given the Internet infrastructure already in place for many schools in Colorado, this project builds on that foundation with specific strategies for delivering performing arts content and also facilitating online (linked bulletin boards) and face-to-face (increased residency program participation) interaction around performing arts. In addition, the project provides specific strategies for technical assistance and training for people with disabilities to help them make the move from basic computing to the Internet. Working with a disabilities and arts organization, the project will actively involve people with disabilities as artists, as well as audience members, and provide a culturally rich break from the isolation experienced by many mobility-impaired people with disabilities.
Evaluation Questions: Under what conditions can Internet-based performing arts content best serve isolated communities? What are the social and technological barriers to online performing arts creation and use? What new types of interactions, if any, are created around performing arts content online? What are the experiences of our end-users (artists, people with disabilities, K-12 children and teachers) on this project? What are the rural telecommunications barriers encountered? How are these barriers experienced by participants? How might these experiences inform state and federal rural telecommunications policy questions?
Evaluation Strategies: Multiple quantitative and qualitative measures will be used to provide the framework and depth in addressing the above and additional research and evaluation questions. The research director will work with partner agencies to collect data on outcomes outlined in section 1 of the "Project Purpose." Already existing organization data collecting will be incorporated into reports.
Data Collection: Specific data collection methods will include the following:
Artists: online (password protected) logs of all arts related digitizing done by community TV and radio sites; three-month follow-up survey of all artist Web site development awardees; interviews with a sample of artists about their experience with the project; quarterly debriefing of community TV and radio site facilitators about process of working with artists to record and digitize, as well as stream and digitize their own content; Schools: six-month follow-up survey of teachers participating in training programs on arts in the classroom to determine use of online performing arts content; online form connected to lesson plans requesting use information from teachers; observation and interviews with a sample of children and teachers who use online performing arts content; creation of monthly summaries of online performing arts bulletin boards which will be saved for later collective analysis; People with disabilities: focus groups with core disabilities technical assistants to discuss experiences, problems and success stories; three-month follow-up survey of all small grants awardees with disabilities who receive technical assistance; General: * statistics programs running on servers to collect data on performing arts sites activities
Data Analysis: The research director will systematically analyze all field notes and interview data using qualitative analysis software currently being used in her research. While statistical data generated by the research will largely be descriptive, these statistics will be generated by a statistical software program (SPSS) which she is also currently using on a current Internet-related evaluation project.
Part of the project log will of course include the development of related project Web sites. Behind the scenes, each partner will provide quarterly action summaries including milestones achieved, problems and recommendations. The Volunteer Coordinator will summarize volunteer activities drawing on an established project management database. Community networks will keep logs of all people trained under this project. The Project Director will be responsible for the umbrella quarterly reports. These will be supplemented with evaluation data and analysis as described above.
Information about this project will be disseminated particularly in the public media communities, the arts communities, the education communities and K-12 schools through a newsletter and meetings. Most partners already attend annual conferences and have discussed presenting the project at these conferences. In addition, the Project Director will work with partners for general press exposure for this project. Online reports and journal articles will incorporate research data from the project. In addition, partners will work with national organizations for broad exposure of the model.
September - December 1998
* Project Director organizes general meeting of partners
* Order and install equipment
* Recruit and hire student staff and public media on-site facilitators
* Put Young Audiences catalog online
* Research Director develops detailed evaluation and policy research plan and timeline
* Recruit needed volunteers and begin training
January - March 1999
* RA curriculum begins direct communications with Weld County BOCES teachers about integrating performing arts Internet content into lesson plans and working with partnering agency curriculum bridge building consultants
* RA policy begins work on needed policy documents and release forms for arts content. Begins meeting with rural technology program director (CRTP).
* Promotion to artist registry artists to make and digitize recordings to link to online registry
* Begin recordings and digitizing of artist registry work samples
* Meeting to evaluate current organization and operations
* State arts agency holds "Arts Dialogue" Internet training for artists
* Community Networks integrate teaching about RealVideo sites and online performing arts content into the training materials
April - June 1999
* Promotion to General Artists community about Web development awards
* Selection of artists who will receive full web site development awards
* Continue recording and digitizing artist registry work samples
* Select rural public media site. Order and install equipment and train staff.
July - September 1999
* Promote program to artists in the region of the newly selected public media site.
* New public media site begins recording and digitizing of content.
* Web development awardees begin to work with developers on their site
* Creating, recording and digitizing performances that educate about disabilities
* Promotion to disability communities about small grants program
* Training of core group of technical volunteers about adaptive Internet software for people with disabilities
October - December 1999
* RA curriculum begins on-location visits with teachers in rural areas
* Make awards to people with disabilities and begin technical assistance
* Continue performing arts digitizing at all three public media sites
* Arts agency "Arts Dialogue"
* General meeting of all partners to discuss and plan for unanticipated issues related to sustainabilty
* State arts agency representative to present project at the National Association of State Arts Agencies (NASAA) conference
January - March 2000
* Continue awards implementation for people with disabilities
* Focus on promoting feedback mechanisms to teachers and students
April - June 2000
* Representatives from partnering organizations travel to various conferences to present project
* Complete all deliverables on assistance to people with disabilities
* Complete all deliverables on performing arts content generation and artists training
* Complete all deliverables on K-12 teacher assistance and lesson plans
July - September 2000
* Final meeting of partners to review project
* Wrap up project and write final reports