History & Mission

We believe in southern storytellers, and the vision and voice of our community.

 

NOVAC is a 501 (c) 3 non-profit that has provided media training and production resources to New Orleans since 1972.

 

“Access” was the buzzword in the alternative television movement of the 1970s.

 

Although television was a part of daily life, underprivileged populations had little opportunity to influence or participate in programming content. At that time, New Orleans had the largest percentage of poor residents and the most inequitable income distribution of the fifty largest American cities.

New Orleans Video Access Center’s Early Years

 

VISTA Volunteers—Volunteers in Service to America, a government agency designed to help low income communities become self-sufficient—were the force behind NOVAC’s initial success, and created a media center with borrowed equipment and space and produced an extraordinary body of work that had tremendous community impact. On July 19, 1972, the New Orleans Video Access Center was established with the purpose of making the medium of television an effective educational and social action tool for this disenfranchised community. In its early years, NOVAC was a strong advocate for the development of a cable franchise advantageous to the city, especially its low-income citizens. By forming a broad based, racially balanced coalition with the Free Southern Theater, the Urban League and Tulane University that was ground-breaking for its time, NOVAC’s efforts led to the formation of a mayoral task force to create a plan for involving the community in cable television.

Community Collaboration is Key

 

NOVAC has continued its efforts to involve racially and economically diverse communities in television production and community programming. By collaborating with local social service agencies and low-income citizens to produce TV projects on housing, literacy, health care and other issues of importance to their communities, NOVAC has provided a voice to the full spectrum of our city’s citizens. In January 2005, NOVAC and the Tipitina’s Foundation of New Orleans Music Office partnered to offer video editing, music recording, mixing and other training services for video producers, filmmakers and musicians.Shortly after Hurricane Katrina caused a levee system failure in New Orleans on August 29th, 2005, NOVAC organized a group of local filmmakers to create a series of short documentaries on post-Katrina New Orleans from a local point of view. The project gained global attention and quickly exceeded 1,000,000 views online and through dozens of screenings throughout the nation. One of the projects titled, The Drive: Lower 9th Ward, was nominated by the American Library Association Notable Videos for Adults list. Today, NOVAC continues that community collaboration in our content creation projects, as we look to the past for media inspiration on moving forward – currently we have two community-based and participatory modeled documentary projects, BetteR, which focuses on the recovery from disasters human and natural in Baton Rouge, and Post Coastal, which is returning to our coastal parishes to look at how Louisianans are adapting and innovating to combat climate change and coastal land loss.

NOVAC’s Creative Industry Workforce Training Initiative

 

In January, 2006, NOVAC received a federal Community Block Development Grant to fund its workforce initiative, the Louisiana Film Crew Training Program. Since 2006, NOVAC has trained and certified over 1,500 local individuals (most of whom are considered low to moderate income by HUD standards and were displaced by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita) so that they may obtain entry level jobs in New Orleans’ booming creative and film industries in key areas such as Grip and Electric, Scenic Painting, Set Design and Construction, Wardrobe, and Production Assistance. In 2013, NOVAC received a local CDBG Grant in East Baton Rouge Parish, and that, combined with support from the New Orleans Mayor’s Office of Cultural Economy, has allowed NOVAC to continue training locals in film, new media and creative industry jobs at low or no cost to participants. Our innovative community-based training programs have received numerous recognitions, and NOVAC’s model is now used by HBO to train community members wherever their episodic shows are produced.

NOVAC Today

 

Now more than ever, the need for an independent local media voice to counter the prevailing narratives is a crucial part of our community’s survival. 2017 will bring NOVAC’s 45th anniversary, and we find ourselves getting back to our roots, while innovating and moving forward. Our longstanding media arts education programs are still a community hub, but we have expanded our presence to include several major public events a year, like Sync Up Cinema and Retroperspective Documentary Festival. Our youth programs are rapidly expanding to meet both the arts education and career and technical training expectations of 21st century youth, and we have developed programs to help opportunity youth access high quality technical training and skills. We are producing original content focusing on current social issues, but inspired by the documentary work of our founders. NOVAC continues to empower local storytellers to support the work of our community.

Share Your Story

 

Do you have a story about your involvement with NOVAC over the years? Please share your experiences.

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