Funding is Fundamental #3: Media Burn

26 May 2017 10:03 AM | Erin Matson (Administrator)

Many of Chicago’s cultural institutions have used grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Institute of Museum and Library Services to preserve, promote, and provide access to their collections. In response to the proposed elimination of funding for these federal agencies, CAA asked members to submit stories highlighting the projects that their institutions have undertaken with support from the NEH, NEA, and IMLS. We hope these stories will inspire a dialog among Chicagoans about how we can advocate for and better protect our cultural heritage.


Today’s submission is from Media Burn Archive. Media Burn Archive collects, restores and distributes documentary video and television created by artists, activists and community groups. Media Burn is a project of the Fund for Innovative TV (FITV), which has been producing challenging documentary video and television since 1990. With the support of funding from the NEH and NEA, Media Burn has made a staggering amount of historical video footage available to the general public.


In 2011, Media Burn was awarded a $79,000 federal grant from the NEH Save America’s Treasures program in order to preserve and make available one-of-a-kind documentary footage of the 1992 presidential election and the U.S. senatorial election in Illinois. The Media Burn Archive holds the largest single collection of documentary footage of the 1992 election cycle–over 450 hours of footage. The 120 videotapes chosen to be preserved include behind-the-scenes footage of then-Governor Bill Clinton’s early campaigning with his wife Hillary, and dozens of hours with Clinton’s strategic team. The collection also includes footage from other campaigns that ran at the same time, including that of President George H.W. Bush, and the videos were produced by some of the best independent videomakers in the country. These videos can be publicly accessed on the Media Burn website.


In 2015, the NEA awarded a grant of $50,000 to FITV/Media Burn for a project dedicated to digitizing and creating access to 239 videotapes from three rare, unfinished or previously unreleased collections from the Kartemquin Films archives that document artistic communities and the role of art in society. The three collections include A Year on Teen Street (1996), Chicago Crossings (1994), and When Art Makes a Difference (1991). More details about this project can be found on Media Burn’s blog.

To learn more about Media Burn Archive, please visit

Do you have a story about your federally funded project and its significance to your community? Submit your stories to


Follow CAA on Twitter or Facebook

© Chicago Area Archivists

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software