KCET-TV lands county grant to launch new arts program, ‘ARC’


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Trying to build an audience and forge an identity after breaking with PBS, L.A.’s nonprofit KCET-TV Channel 28 is gearing up for a new arts series called “ARC” that will exist as a half-hour television show and as an online portal that aims to offer new content daily.

The effort received a boost Tuesday from the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, which approved a $206,300 grant to help produce the show. The money, to be paid over two years, is the second-largest amount awarded in this year’s $4.1 million competitive arts grant program funded through the Los Angeles County Arts Commission. Los Angeles Opera topped the list with a $208,600 grant for its education and audience-building programs.


Juan Devis (pictured), KCET’s director of production and program development, said the county grant is “a tremendous nod of approval” that the station will try to parlay into additional donations from other sources. He declined to disclose the overall budget of ‘ARC,’ which he described as a multi-pronged initiative rather than a single program.

“We still need to raise more money to really go for it, but I think sometime in the fall you’ll see ‘ARC’ coming alive,” he said.

The online incarnation figures to arrive first, Devis said, and arts coverage that initially emerges there can be repurposed for the half-hour weekly television show. Plans call for 24 episodes a year on TV, fed by four different “production units,” each assigned to explore a single theme in the arts and produce a five-minute segment for each show.

Those units will work with KCET, but will be independent from it. Devis plans to pick a collaborator to cover each arts beat that “ARC” hopes to encompass -– arts and cultural history, portraits of contemporary voices in the arts, the arts and education, and the politics of the arts. KCET will produce a fifth segment in-house that will tie each episode together.

To get the most programming bang for its buck, Devis said, the station also is pursuing “partnerships” with arts organizations, and hopes to establish a formal tie with the arts journalism program at USC’s Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism –- with its students possibly earning course credit for their work on the TV show and its web portal.

One partner is L.A. County: Starting in August, Devis said, KCET crews will begin shooting performances at the county-run John Anson Ford Amphitheatre for “Live at the Ford,” four hourlong programs envisioned not as a performance series, but as a way to use the arts as a lens for exploring L.A.’s cultural diversity.


Subjects will include Grandeza Mexicana Folk Ballet Company, the annual J.U.i.C.E. Hip-Hop Dance Festival, the Korean Cultural Center’s “Rhythm and Passion of Korea” concert and a concert by a Middle Eastern jazz ensemble.

Also in the works is “I Am the West,” a series of six monthly, minute-long video portraits in which KCET is collaborating with the Autry National Center of the American West, with results to be seen online and on television starting in August.

Overall, Devis said, the aim is to create arts and cultural programming that “tries to understand the relationship between culture and place” in Los Angeles. To accomplish that, “figuring out these collaborations is key for us. We’re looking at the resources we have and that other people have, and how you can bring the two together.” RELATED:

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$4.1 million in L.A. County arts grants OK’d by supervisors

How $50 million in donations led KCET to split from PBS

-- Mike Boehm