Survey: Public Eye

Posted August 05, 2010 by Anonymous
Part 1.
Year Founded: 
1b. Primary activity[ies] of the organization.: 
Provided video equipment to artists to produce programs for public access channels on Cable TV
1c. Organization's annual budget.: 
$100,001 - $250,000
Part 2.
2a. Mission Statement: 
Mission Statement of The Public Eye, Inc.: To procure and provide portable video and editing equipment and training to artists, musicians and performers for documentation purposes and for programs on the public access channels of Cable TV in the San Francisco Bay Area. (The Public Eye, Inc. was disbanded in 1985 so it does not have a Web site.)
2b. Organization History / Organizational Overview. Index of important events in organization's history.: 
The Public Eye, Inc., a non-profit arts and media organization created in 1973, served artists, musicians and performers by providing video equipment for the production and editing of video programs for public access channels on Cable TV and for playback in galleries and art spaces. Documentation of artists at work, exhibitions, performances and readings was an important part of the work. Experimental videos by artists also needed a showcase. The Public Eye, Inc. started the Mobius Video Pavilion/Exhibition at the San Francisco Art Festival, judging and rewarding experimental video productions for display at the outdoor art festival from 1974-1980, when it morphed into the San Francisco International Video Festival. This effort was supported by the San Francisco Arts Commission and many volunteers. Grants for particular projects were obtained from foundations and arts groups. The largest project was by performance artist, Darryl Sapien, who created an interactive video backdrop for a dance by the San Francisco Ballet. Members of the board included members of other alternative arts groups, such as Ant Farm and Video Free America, plus individual artists who lived and worked in the San Francisco Bay Area. The Public Eye also participated in the study by the Rockefeller Foundation, which was seeking to invest in alternative and creative uses of television/video. This effort resulted in the creation of the Bay Area Video Coalition, which is still going in San Francisco.
2c. Exhibition / Programming / Publishing History.: 
The Mobius Video Pavilion selected art videos from artists all over the country for display at the San Francisco Art Festival from 1974-1980. Some of The Public Eye grantees were displayed along with videos submitted by artists across the country. EVery year the exhibition produced a catelogue and schedule of the showings of the videos. All submitted videos were displayed at least once, if they were compatible with the video equipment used for the show. Winners were repeated several times a day of the five-day period. Some Public Eye productions and the winners of the Video Festival were shown on the public access channel in San Francisco. The Public Eye also supported the comedy sketches of Jane Dornacker, a member of the rock band, The Tubes. She founded "Leila and the Snakes," a punk-ish band that played in nightclubs and bars throughout the Bay Area. The videos allowed Jane/Leila to show her work without having to change into the costumes of her comic characters.
Part 3.
3a. Names and email addresses of Founders, Board Members, Directors or other key individuals:: 
Bonnie Engel
Additional Names and email addresses of Founders, Board Members, Directors or other key individuals: 
Chip Lord unknown
Additional Names and email addresses of Founders, Board Members, Directors or other key individuals: 
Darryl Sapien
Additional Names and email addresses of Founders, Board Members, Directors or other key individuals: 
Daniel Mangin
3b. Could any of these individuals assist in providing an oral history of your organization?: 
Part 4.
4a. Is organization currently active?: 
4b. Year activity suspended if no longer active.: 
Part 5.
5a. Type of organization at its founding.: 
Non-Profit [IRS certified]
5b. Type of organization currently, or at the termination of activities.: 
Non-Profit [IRS certified]
Part 6.
6a. Does the organization have an archive?: 
6b. Are there any short or long-term threats to the organization?: 
None / Not Applicable
6c. Other threats to the organization:: 
Are there other threats to your organization? Please describe below.
Part 7.
7a. How important is to the organization to preserve the organization’s historical material. From 1 – Very Important to 5 – Not Important.: 
1. Very Important
7b. Has planning for the preservation and documentation of archive begun?: 
7c. Does the organization know how and where to seek expertise and assistance?: 
7d. Does the organization have specific concerns regarding starting an archive working with its historic materials?: 
Technical Support / Expertise
Part 8.
8a. Is the organization's archives in the collection of another institution or promised to one?: 
8a. Location: 
IF YES to 8: University (Name)
8b. Archival materials are also located at:: 
Where are these locations?: 
Former board members and volunteers. Many of the videos are in the possession of the artists themselves, some of whom have died.
Part 9.
9. Does the organization maintain archives for any other organization.: 
IF YES to 9: 10a. Please describe:
Part 10a.
10a. Is the archive accessible to scholars, curators or researchers?: 
Part 10d.
10d. Would you allow access in the future?: 
Part 10e.
10e. Under what circumstances would access to archives be allowed.: 
Some of the materials are now on video formats that are no longer supported (i.e., 1/2-inch reel-to-reel portapak, 3/4-inch cassettes) so access, if we can round up the remaining videos, is limited due to lack of the suitable equipment.
Part 11.
11b. Artwork and Documentation: 
Other Artwork
I think all our programs, catelogues and schedules have been lost or destroyed. The last board member with the memorbilia of the corporation has discarded the records, articles of incorporation, minutes, etc. in the late 1980’s.
All lost, I think. Perhaps the Art Commission has files.
Part 12.
12. What years does the materials cover?: 
Part 13.
13a. How is the material stored?: 
Other - Please describe below.
Please describe: 
Don’t know
13b. Are some or all of these storage units “archival”?: 
I don’t know
Part 14.
14a. Estimated Number of Boxes or Milk-Crate Sized Storage Units: 
14b. Estimated Number of Archive Drawers: 
14c. Estimated Number of Archive Notebooks: 
14d. Estimated the total Linear Feet. ["Linear Feet" is standard measure of the quantity of archival materials on the basis of shelf space occupied or the length of drawers in vertical files or the thickness of horizontally filed materials. For example, a: 
I can’t access the material to determine this
Part 15.
15. Is the historical materials - or archives - inventoried or catalogued in any way, either formally or otherwise?: 
Part 16 / Electronic Files & Archival Management
16f. Does the organization have a back-up program, or back-up schedule, for its electronic records and perform monitoring of its removable media (i.e. floppies, ZIP disks, CD-ROMs, DVDs, portable hard drives, etc.)?: 
We do not have any electronic files
16g. Who is responsible for working with the archival material?: 
Other - Please describe below.
Please describe: 
No one
Part 17.
17. How are new materials processed?: 
We are not currently processing new material
Part 18.
18. What, if any, conservation methods are in place for both physical materials and electronic data?: 
Not Applicable
Part 19.
19. What type of climate-controls are present in the area[s] in which the archives are stored?: 
Not Applicable
Part 20.
20a. What are the goals for the historical materials for the next year?: 
Find the materials
20b. What are the biggest challenges to reaching these short-term goals?: 
Finding the old participants
20c. What goals are in place for the historical materials for the next three to five years?: 
None at present
20d. What are the biggest challenges to reaching these long term goals?: 
Finding old participants
20e. Are there any additional goals for the organizations historic materials?: 
Would love to locate some
Part 21.
21. Estimated cost to achieve these archival goals for the next year.: 
Part 22.
22. Estimated cost to achieve these archival goals for the next five years.: 
Part 24.
24. What archival issues could / should visual arts organizations address collectively in the next three to five years? Ranked from 1 (highest priority) to 5 (lowest priority).24a. Shared standards / protocols for digitization: 
Promote professional standards / protocols for digitization
Part 25.
25a. Is the organization a member of, or in contact with, any organizations concerned with archival issues?: 
Part 26.
26. Additional information, comments, observations, and questions.: 
I feel this effort is 20 years late, frankly. People move on, move out, and storage is always a problem. Especially bulky items like old videotapes, which are very fragile to begin with, needed attention many years ago. Our ogranization was made up of poor artists. Although we supported many arts projects in the late ’70s and early 80’s, grantors refused to support administration and salaries, so most of the work was done by the recipient artist and volunteers. We never managed to grow into a big organization, partly because of the neglect of the cable access channels by the city of San Francisco and other franchising authorities. Although The Public Eye, Inc. was very successful in supporting many artists from many disciplines, it was never large enough to attract serious funding because grant-making bodies did not understand the medium of video as an artistic tool at that time. If we had some support, we might be able to rescue some of the tapes of the productions and archive them, but the format barrier is formidible and I have been told that such old analog tape cannot be digitalized successfully. Darryl Sapien has managed to edit his performance art tapes into the VHS format, another threatened format. He was told the old tape was too unstable to be transferred to DVD or digital formats. I suppose the same is true of all the remaining evidence of our activites 30+ years ago. However, it all was great fun!
Bonnie E. Engel
Who executed this survey.: 
Bonnie E. Engel