Gone are the days of broadcasting from the old Access Tucson building downtown. Gone are the days of turning on your local cable access channel and watching some of Tucson's craziest collection of on-air variety, spewing an array of unusual perspectives while a handful of callers would jam the phone banks and deliver every epithet imaginable.
The old Access Tucson is gone.
The new Access Tucson will pursue a much different trajectory. It won't be the free-for-all of the old model. Instead, Danny Vinik, the brainchild behind the concept and head of Brink Media, views the upgraded version—now Creative Tucson—as a vocational opportunity.
"We strongly support the concept of more resources and more trained people in video and web in Tucson. That just benefits us," Vinik says. "We're a business that uses Tucson developers and videographers and producers and we need them. Sometimes it's hard to find good ones. We like the idea of putting professionals with non-professionals in a teaching environment."
The Creative Tucson undertaking will include partners KXCI community radio and WaveLab recording studio, both of which will receive upgraded video studios and in exchange donate time and classroom space for the benefit of teaching the nuances of their specific niches.
"WaveLab might be more centered on audio technology and KXCI [on] broadcast techniques, but they're also going to do video classes," Vinik says. "They have a great space for that."
The goal from a personnel standpoint: give Tucsonans an opportunity to enhance their production skills.
"I'm hoping people will tell stories and become better video story tellers," Vinik says. "We'll be encouraging people to go out and tell stories."
And share those storytelling techniques in a way that benefits the City of Tucson, which agreed to contribute to Brink's financing model as its preferred course of action. The incumbent Access Tucson group, which hoped to continue broadcasting from the downtown location at 124 E. Broadway Blvd., barely missed the city's application deadline in mid-July. The new undertaking has no use for the old studio space.
That collection of circumstances made the city's decision much easier, and through the new model, which Vinik hopes to get rolling by the early stages of the new year, it provides Tucson with a video outlet that presents the community in a positive light.
"This is financed by the city," Vinik says. "While they really brought down the funding, they wanted something for their money. Some of this is destination marketing for the city. They are getting some services out of the deal. They put it all in the package of programming the cable stations and running the classes. The city wants positive content about the city. That's definitely part of what we're going to do. We love the city. We love Tucson. We know there are great stories out there."
Among the other peripheral benefits, Vinik envisions the possibility of using Creative Tucson to build a stable of capable personnel to help enhance the community's chances of improving its place as a player in an ever-expanding film industry.
"The video and film industries are multi-billion dollar industries," Vinik says. "Tucson once had a very vibrant film industry centered around Old Tucson and places, and still could. Look at Albuquerque and other places that have vibrant industries. It could happen in Tucson if we had players to make films here. We want to help people tell stories."
While what was Access Tucson is in the midst of a dramatic transformation, in some ways it mirrors the changes in the industry as a whole. Vinik argues most of today's content is transitioning to web-based formats, and as such it behooves those interested in providing video content to garner some skillsets that allow them to better navigate the uncertainty of the medium.
Even though the business model continues to struggle in regards to how to fund projects, or how to bring in the kinds of revenue streams enjoyed by traditional media outlets prior to the Internet era, it is clear video is a critical part of that transition. Businesses believe video provides the best opportunity to imbed ads and offer necessary revenue stream opportunities. As such, he argues Creative Tucson's production skillset options can play a role in offering the potential for positive career benefits to its participants in a city still hampered by continued economic doldrums.
"Television is dying. Your paper is dying," Vinik says. "Everything in the next 10 or 15 years will be on the Internet, and it will be very video driven. You still need people who can tell stories. Yes you can always go out with your iPhone and do a pretty good job, but the cream will always rise to the top. The people who can do more quality content will have more success."
The creativetucson.org website is still in its infant stages, but there's a contact option for those interested in what the new venture has to offer.