NEH and CPB Form Partnership to Develop Educational Enhancements for Digital Television

WASHINGTON, (July 5, 2000)

Federal agency and non-profit corporation announce seven grants totaling $350,000 for high-tech projects

The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) today jointly announced seven $50,000 grants to documentary film producers who will develop high-tech educational enhancements for their films. The collaboration between the federal agency and the non-profit corporation is a pioneering effort to use the latest technology to develop television projects that will provide viewers with a deeper and richer experience of program content.

"Together, NEH and CPB are creating programs that allow viewers to explore program content in new ways," said NEH Chairman William R. Ferris. "As public television stations convert to digital broadcasting by 2003, more and more programs will come with engaging new options for interactive learning. The projects we are funding today will develop some of these options and explore their potential for opening doors to learning for millions of Americans of all ages in homes and classrooms across the nation."

"Technology, in and of itself, isn't the point here," said CPB President Robert T. Coonrod. "The point is that in the hands of these talented producers, digital technology is a powerful tool which will let them make their programs both more compelling and more educational. When it comes to humanities programming," he added, "CPB and NEH have long been headed in the same direction. This partnership lets us go there together, and to go further than we could separately."

All seven of the documentaries will receive funding pending successful execution of the respective grant agreements. The programs are currently in production and are expected to air on public television during the next year or so.

The high-tech educational enhancement grants supplement the NEH and CPB production investments referenced in the following:

The NEH-CPB funded Digital Enhancement Projects:

  • Crucible of the Millennium (New York Foundation for the Arts, New York City. Production funding: NEH--$1,000,000; CPB--$200,000) looks at the world's major civilizations in the 15th century, their influence on each other and their legacies into the 21st century.
    The digital component will include exploration of an Aztec pyramid; museum tours of Indian, Chinese, Portuguese and Italian collections; interviews with historians; a website; and a world music compact disc.
  • Morning Sun (Long Bow Group, Inc., Brookline, Mass. Production funding: NEH--$850,000) explores the historical circumstances that gave rise to China's Cultural Revolution of 1966-1976, its events and leaders, and its legacy.
    The digital component will include a collection of visual materials such as excerpts from feature films, documentaries, musical and theatrical performances, photos, artwork, and posters, along with text, music and interviews. Viewers will be able to pause the film at anytime and go directly to these materials.
  • Woodrow Wilson and the Birth of the American Century (KCET-TV, Los Angeles, Calif. Production funding: NEH--$800,000) examines the personal, social and cultural currents, ranging from the Reconstruction era to the aftermath of World War I and America's emergence as a world superpower, that influenced Wilson's actions and positions.
    The digital component will enable users to put themselves in the place of government leaders facing critical choices and to trace the consequences of historical events on their own lives today.
  • Partners of the Heart (Spark Media, Inc., Washington, D.C. Production funding: NEH--$550,000, CPB--$182,000) presents the extraordinary story of how Vivien Thomas, an African American lab technician, and Alfred Blalock, a white physician, formed an intellectual partnership to pioneer the development of heart surgery, despite institutional racism in the South during the mid-20th century.
    The digital component will involve creating an interactive website and links to archival documents and film clips. An annotation tool will also allow users to post notes that participating scholars can respond to.
  • This Far By Faith: Stories from the African American Religious Experience (Civil Rights Projects, Inc., Boston, Mass. Production funding: NEH-- $250,000, CPB/PBS-- $750,000) covers the history of African American religion from 1776 to the present.
    The digital component will provide access to basic contextual information (e.g. timelines, graphs, and maps), and to expanded narrative sequences on issues such as West African religions, women and faith, religious architecture, and the arts and religion.
  • Bills to Bytes: The Money Revolution (Oregon Public Broadcasting, Portland, Ore.) recounts and explores the contemporary history of money, examining the creation of new forms of money like credit cards and frequent flyer accounts, and other recent revolutionary changes in the perceptions and use of money.
    The digital component, hosted, like the rest of the program, by technology expert and PBS personality Robert Cringely, will encourage viewer-directed exploration of the historic benchmarks and cultural effects of money's transformation and they key role in this transformation of information technology.
  • The Two Towns of Jasper (Two Tone Productions, New York, N.Y. Production funding: CPB--$300,000) explores the reactions of the black and white people of Jasper, Texas, to the dragging death of James Byrd, Jr.
    The digital component will allow viewers to hear more about how the people of Jasper view the incident and race relations in their community, and to probe more deeply into the themes raised in the program.

Created in 1965 as an independent federal agency, the National Endowment for the Humanities supports learning in history, literature, philosophy and other areas of the humanities. NEH grants enrich classroom learning, create and preserve knowledge, and bring ideas to life through public television, radio, new technologies, museum exhibitions, and programs in libraries and other community places.

CPB, a private, nonprofit corporation created by Congress in 1967, is a leader in public broadcasting's transition to digital and new media educational programming and services for the American people. The Corporation is public broadcasting's largest single source of funds for public television and radio program development and production. CPB also funds more than 1,000 public radio and television stations across the country.

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