NEA awards grants to '63 Boycott and Media Burn's Kartemquin Digitization Project

The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) has awarded two grants for Kartemquin projects in its recent round of 2015 funding.

'63 Boycott received $35,000 towards completion of the thirty minute film segment of this web-based documentary highlighting the stories of participants in the 1963 Chicago Public School (CPS) Boycott, one of the largest Civil Rights’ demonstrations in the city’s history. Through never-released 16mm footage filmed by by Kartemquin founder Gordon Quinn, and then-and-now interviews with participants, the project will engage the broader public in the importance of this largely forgotten event and connect it to the struggles surrounding today’s public education system. The website initially serves as a tool to find participants, and will be re-launched as a historical resource where people can share stories of the Boycott and a platform to discuss contemporary education issues. The '63 Boycott project is produced by Gordon Quinn, Rachel Dickson and Tracye Matthews.

The NEA also awarded a grant of $50,000 to Media Burn, for a project which will digitize and create access to 239 videotapes from three rare, unfinished or previously unreleased collections from the Kartemquin archives:

A Year on Teen Street (1996) (124 tapes)
Follows the Teen Street youth troupe, a project of Free Street Theater, over the course of a year as they create and perform their acclaimed Mad Joy at Steppenwolf Theatre.

Chicago Crossings (1994) (100 tapes)
Takes you in to the studios of 12 artists, six black and six Jewish, as they prepare their work for a show at the Spertus Museum addressing the relationships of African Americans and American Jews.

When Art Makes a Difference (1991) (15 tapes)
An unfinished project looking at censorship and the role of art in a democracy in Chicago and Prague in 1990 featuring two trips to Prague right after the Velvet Revolution.

Media Burn is currently working to raise additional matching funds to complete the project, which is budgeted at $100,000. We're excited to continue working with Media Burn on the preservation and public access of our underseen archival works, in continuation of a partnership we established in 2013 around when Media Burn applied for, and received, two grants from the Bay Area Video Coalition (BAVC) to transfer 21 half-inch reels from Kartemquin’s collection. In total, BAVC provided $5,620 in in-kind work and Media Burn provided $3,266 in cash and $4,000 in in-kind work for the restoration, transfer, and online accessibility of these reels. All 21 videos - including excerpts of Where's I. W. Abel? - are online and can be viewed at Media Burn's website.

Through its grant-making to thousands of nonprofits each year, the NEA promotes opportunities for people in communities across America to experience the arts and exercise their creativity. The NEA will make 1,023 awards totaling $74.3 million nationwide in this funding round. For more information on projects included in the NEA grant announcement, go to