MIT & Black Public: Program to support Black creatives

by paradoxig

Black Public Media, and MIT Open Documentary Lab, and MIT Center for Art, Science & Technology welcome applications from filmmakers, artists, journalists, or creative technologists for 2022’s and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) & Black Public Media Visiting Artist Program. The program was designed to support Black creatives who use emerging technology as their medium for documentary and nonfiction storytelling.


In 2020, Black Public Media (BPM), MIT Open Documentary Lab (ODL), and MIT Center for Art, Science & Technology (MIT CAST) created the MIT & Black Public Media Visiting Artist Program to support Black creatives who use emerging technology as their medium for documentary and nonfiction storytelling.

The mission of this joint program is to support and develop the emerging-tech storytelling skills of a maker who is underrepresented within creative technology industries and bring Visiting Artists into community with like-minded storytellers.
Please note that connecting Visiting Artists with coders and developers is not the goal of the program. The program does not provide substantial engineering or technical resources or equipment. Although we encourage applicants to have at least one completed emerging technology production on their resume or filmography, previous emerging technology experience is not required to apply. However, candidates must demonstrate a working knowledge of their chosen technology and be able to explain persuasively why their project idea is a compelling and timely use of a particular technology or platform.

ODL meetings begin on September 13, 2022.

Visiting Artists have the option to do the program remotely or in person. Visiting Artists who decide to relocate to the Boston area would cover their own travel and living expenses. If an artist wants to audit an MIT class, they should choose the course as soon as they are selected, because classes begin on Wednesday, September 8th. Applicants based outside the United States are welcome to apply.
Neither part-time nor full-time students qualify for this program, per MIT requirements.

The program:

Immerses makers in ODL’s network of storytellers, scholars, and technologists and gives them access to ODL’s rich programming during the academic year.
Assigns BPM producers to each artist to help them refine their project idea and create pitch materials, including a pitch video for PitchBLACK 2023.
Connects them to filmmakers and artists in previous cohorts of this program.
The joint program provides one academic year (9 months) of independent study within OpenDocLab, which is deeply engaged with creating, testing, and exploring new storytelling technologies and co-creation methodologies.

The purpose of the Visiting Artist program is to research and develop an emerging-tech, nonfiction project and move the concept forward in substantive ways, including the creation of a package of pitch materials.

Initiator of program looking for someone who is interested in engaging creatively and critically with emerging technologies, such as virtual reality, augmented reality, artificial intelligence, and/or using older technologies, such as 3D animation, projection mapping, or motion capture in novel or new ways.


Black studio heads, creative directors, lead engineers, directors, lead artists, and writers are far and few between at emerging-tech content studios, divisions, departments, and on A-list emerging-tech production crews.

The MIT & Black Public Media Visiting Artist Program is designed to connect a Black maker to a community of emerging-tech practitioners, researchers, and thinkers. The program is part of the BPMplus Initiative at Black Public Media, which focuses on reducing barriers to entry for Black creatives and increasing their participation in emerging-tech storytelling.

Program Dates

Thursday, July 7, 2022, at 9 PM ET – Application deadline.
August 22, 2022 – Semifinalists will be contacted by the 3rd week of August. The winner will be announced publicly by mid-September.
September 2, 2022 – Deadline for Visiting Artists to sign agreements from MIT CAST, MIT OpenDocLab and Black Public Media.
September 8, 2022 – MIT academic year begins.
October 2022 – First grant payment from the $7,500 honorarium. Payments may be made to individuals only, not to companies.
February 2023 – Second grant payment.
March – April – Create PitchBLACK pitch video.
April 2023 – Compete in PitchBLACK on a date determined by Black Public Media.
May 2023 – Final versions of all pitch materials due to BPM and MIT CAST.

Fellowship Benefits

A $7,500 honorarium after the first 30 days of the program, paid in two installments. This payment is dependent on completion of all MIT and Black Public Media contracts and agreements. Payments may be made to individuals only, not to companies.
Access to MIT’s community of artists, scholars, and technologists.
Access to Black Public Media’s community of filmmakers and creative technologists.
Ability to audit one (1) MIT course [requires permission of the instructor]. If a Fellow wants to audit an MIT class, they should choose the course as soon as they are selected, because classes begin on the September 8th.
Access to MIT’s library system and other online resources.

Application Requirements

Please budget 2 to 3 hours to complete your application. Read through the entire application before you begin.
[Optional] A website or portfolio
[Optional] Resume, artist statement and/or a filmography
[Optional] A budget
[Optional] A schedule and scope-of-work for your project. 2-week milestones for 18 weeks total would be great.
[Optional] A treatment, a pitch deck and/or a trailer
[Optional] Sketches or concept art
Although most of these documents are marked ‘optional,’ the more information you give the review panel about your project, the stronger your application will be. Start your application at least 2 weeks before the July deadline, so you may give yourself time to improve the weakest portions of your application.

Visiting Artist Commitments & Deliverables:

[Mandatory] Start the program on September 13, 2022, so that the MIT & BPM Visiting Artist may participate in the general orientation for the new cohort of MIT OpenDocLab Fellows.
[Mandatory]Attend online project presentations by ODL Fellows every Tuesday at 10 AM ET/2 pm UTC. There are no meetings in January 2023.
[Mandatory] Attend online guest lectures at noon ET on Tuesdays.
[Optional] ​Attend ODL workshops and meetings on a range of topics, from co-creation to augmented reality and public space.
[Mandatory] Give a private overview of your project to the ODL community and BPM.
[Mandatory] Develop a package of pitch materials with Black Public Media (logline, treatment, pitch deck, budget, pitch video).
[Mandatory] Work with Black Public Media to create a polished pitch video in February and March 2023, and pitch it during Black Public Media’s live competition, called PitchBLACK.
[Mandatory] Deliver your pitch video to MIT CAST by May 2023. (You may use the same materials you submitted to BPM in April 2023.)

Previous MIT & Black Public Media Visiting Artists

Wa’Omoni Rising by Ngardy Conteh George
A TV documentary, a 360VR documentary, and a wellness app focusing on different aspects of the debates happening on the Caribbean island of Barbuda around the issue of land rights.
Ngardy is the co-founder of OYA Media Group, a film, TV, and virtual reality production company.

Mapping Blackness by Carla LynDale Bishop

Uses traditional film, augmented reality, and geo-tagged media assets to co-create profiles of historically Black communities all over the United States with members of each community.
Carla teaches film at Arizona State University’s Sidney Poitier New American Film School.

Museum of Black Joy by Andrea Walls

A portable gallery of images of joy from Black communities. The goal is to bring the museum experience to young people in informal, outdoor spaces.
Andrea is a photographer and poet in Philadelphia.

Meshmemories by Fabiano Mixo

An augmented reality sculpture of Mãe Beata de Iemanjá, a Brazilian writer, activist, and religious leader.
Fabiano runs Vild Studio, a film and AR/VR production company in Rio de Janeiro.

Additional Sample Creative Technology Projects
These projects are great examples of other projects that would have been suitable for the MIT & Black Public Visiting Artist Program.

40 Acres by Tamara Shogaolu

Tech: Film, e-textiles, spatial audio, augmented reality
Watch the pitch video from April 2022.
Watch Tamara’s interview on The Technically Brilliant Show.

Red Summers: Domestic Terrorism from 1917-1921 by Bayete Ross Smith

Tech: 360VR
Watch the pitch video from April 2021.
Watch Episode 1: Tulsa from May 2021 on The Guardian.

Movement Portraits by LaJune McMillian

Tech: Mocap (Perception Neuron), Unreal Engine, Motion Builder, Maya
*Watch the pitch video from April 2021.

About Black Public Media

Black Public Media supports the development of visionary content creators and distributes stories about the global Black experience to inspire a more equitable and inclusive future. A signature program of Black Public Media, BPMplus is designed to increase the participation of Black storytellers in experimental and emerging-tech storytelling. Black Public Media is located in New York City. Please follow oficial page of application

About MIT Open Documentary Lab

Drawing on MIT’s legacy of media innovation and its deep commitment to open and accessible information, the MIT Open Documentary Lab brings storytellers, technologists, and scholars together to explore new documentary forms with a particular focus on collaborative, interactive, and immersive storytelling. OpenDocLab is based in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

About MIT Center for Arts, Science, and Technology

A major cross-school initiative, the MIT Center for Art, Science & Technology (CAST) creates new opportunities for art, science and technology to thrive as interrelated, mutually informing modes of exploration, knowledge and discovery. CAST’s multidisciplinary platform presents performing and visual arts programs, supports research projects for artists working with science and engineering labs, and sponsors symposia, classes, workshops, design studios, lectures and publications. The visiting artists program is a cornerstone of CAST’s activities, which encourages cross-fertilization among disciplines and intensive interaction with MIT’s faculty, students, and researchers. CAST is based in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

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