Klein not only saw television as a monolithic institution in need of change, he also saw the role of the artist as one with the potential to effect cultural change. The first project to address this issue was the Visa series, which the foundation funded through the TV lab and Cable Arts Foundation, an organization set up by Russell Connor in 1973 to get work about art on cable television in New York. 14
Cable Arts Foundation produced a series for several years on a New York City-owned cable channel (Channel A, hence the series title "A For Art") of work about art, much of which was older programming dug up from the archives of WNET. In 1975, the Rockefeller Foundation gave a grant to fund a 10-city project (not related to the Global Village Ten-Cities Project), in which Cable Arts staff member Curtis Davis toured the country exploring the potential of arts programming on cable in 10 model cities. From 1976 through 1978, Cable Arts received substantial support from the foundation to co-produce the Visa series and to set up an editing facility (installed by artists Bill Viola and John Sanborn).
The impetus behind the Visa series came from Nam June Paik, who had conceived of producing a series by artists about other cultures that could counter the crisis-oriented approach of television news. The notion was to fund artists to take the porta-pak approach of documentation to produce non-crisis-oriented works. "Nam June wanted to call it "Peace Correspondent," Klein recalls. "Now isn't that a better title? You don't tamper with originality. I hated it when the marketing people at WNET said 'Well, we really can't do anything with Peace Correspondent.' What is Visa? It's a credit card!" Klein called a meeting to try out the idea on potential participants and then put together a group of grants to fund the series jointly through the TV lab and the International Television Workshop, a subdivision of Cable Arts Foundation. Ultimately about $200,000 went into the project, divided into smaller grants. Thus, fellowships to Viola and Connor in 1977 actually went into Cable Arts to fund Visa projects. The intent was also to build up a smaller institution like Cable Arts as a kind of international center for cross-cultural projects (it ceased functioning not long after this project). Other grants included $3,000 to the Ministry of Education and Cultural Affairs in the Solomon Islands and $850 for Bill Viola in 1976, which were grants arranged through Nam June Paik. Paik had been taping in the Solomons for his piece Guadacanal Requiem (1977). He needed more material after his return, so he sent Bill Viola (who could fly for free since his father worked for Pan Am) to collect material for him and arranged for the ministry to get a porta-pak. Viola produced two tapes on the Solomons, one with the islanders documenting themselves and one of his impressions there for Visa.
The tapes produced for this series are diverse and eclectic: Vietnam: Picking Up the Pieces (1978) by Downtown Community Television Center (Jon Alpert and Keiko Tsuno), You Can't Lick Stamps in China (1978) by Nam June Paik and Gregory Buttock, To Siena With Love (1978) by Connor and Viola, Running with the bulls (1977) by Bill and Esti Galili Marpet,
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