An Olympic first: Independent media arts groups challenge IOC media monopoly

0 Posted by - February 16, 2010 - Conversations, Features, Policy, Screen

This is the first in a series of video reports (video embedded at the end of the post) focusing on the independent media and cultural events of the Vancouver Olympic Games, where contributing Editor Michael Lithgow is on the scene.

It’s complicated and exciting here in the Downtown East Side of Vancouver, home of the critical conversation about the Olympic games and their human cost. What is making this conversation possible, diverse and accessible to people around the world is the rich diversity of social and citizens media groups and cultural events taking place – an unprecedented people’s media event that has grown in response to one of the world’s largest media spectacles: the Olympic Games.

On the ground there are a number of organizations involved in the independent media movement and events taking place. A quick bird’s eye view: W2 Culture and Media House, an social media resource center providing internet and work spaces for unaccreditied artists and journalists, editing facilities, a visual art gallery, and host to a month-long “subculture” arts festival. There is the Vancouver Media Coop, an offshoot of the Dominion Newspaper providing a quick, daily, on the ground coverage of what is happening in the streets, the protests, police actions and in general news central for the Anti-Olympic Resistance Movement — all through community participation. There is Fearless TV, a community television production outfit located in the Downtown East Side providing live streaming video of various press conferences and cultural events. There is VIVO, host to a series of newscasts and discussions called Safe Assembly bringing activists, artists and thinkers together to reflect on resistance, the Olympics, media and culture as it unfolds during the Olympic games. And there are the dozen or so art galleries in the DTES hosting a cultural festival Bright Light, bringing together a provocative collection of installations contributing to the critical conversation about the Olympics games.

To add to the complexity, some of these groups are participating in the Cultural Olympiad and have taken Olympics funding raising questions and tensions about artistic freedom and political compromise.

In this first report, I’ll bring you on a walking tour of the W2 Culture and Media House in Vancouver’s Downtown East Side—the first of its kind in Olympic history—and speak with one of the W2 coordinators, Hywel Tuscano.

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