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ICA, VPM launch community media center for podcasting

ICA director steps down ahead of opening
Posted at 6:18 PM, Aug 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-11 18:18:15-04

RICHMOND, Va. — The Institute for Contemporary Art at Virginia Commonwealth University and NPR-affiliate station VPM are creating a media center inside the ICA for the production of audio content by VCU students, local community members and VPM professionals.

The VPM+ICA Community Media Center hopes to create new opportunities for storytelling, train and educate the next generation of audio producers, and "amplify voices often missing from traditional media."

Under the leadership of Chioke I’Anson, Ph.D., inaugural director of community media, the center will launch this fall with community and student podcasting workshops, training sessions and a special performance — all of which are expected to begin virtually due to COVID-19. The VPM+ICA Community Media Center is slated to open in spring 2021.

“Over the past several years, we’ve witnessed the rise of podcasting as a new genre of narrative and documentary arts,” said Dominic Willsdon, executive director of the ICA. “With that in mind, the ICA — as an institution responsive to new currents in public culture — sought to partner with VPM and launch an initiative that supports audio storytelling by, for and about our communities, especially those that have suffered historical inequity. We plan to grow this over time to include audio, video and community media-making more broadly. Beginning in 2021, our new community media center will provide the space, tools and support for this.”

The the ICA and VPM also will launch a multiyear educational and media-making program comprising VCU academic seminars, youth media programs and public seminars, workshops and symposia.

“The VPM+ICA Community Media Center is a unique opportunity for public media to play a role in engaging a new generation of diverse content makers,” said Jayme Swain, CEO of the Virginia Foundation for Public Media and president of VPM. “We are honored to partner with the ICA and Dr. I’Anson to provide a creative space for students and the community to learn how to harness the power of media to tell their stories.”

The ICA’s second-floor Murry DePillars Learning Lab will house the media center, complete with two recording booths and workspace for conceptualizing, editing and producing podcasts and other audio programs.

“Everyone in Richmond has a story that only they can tell, or a perspective only they can share,” said I’Anson, an assistant professor of African American Studies in the College of Humanities and Sciences at VCU and underwriting announcer at NPR. “The VPM+ICA Community Media Center is the lab where anyone with something to say or a desire to create can get the technical skills to share their vision. The media center will be an arts and storytelling focal point, serving the city of Richmond and helping deliver its stories to the rest of the world.”