Someday, You Could Start a Community Media Center, Just Like Keiko Tsuno


Keiko Tsuno with husband, Jon Alpert, and grandson, Calum, outside of DCTV. PHOTO: Keiko Tsuno
Keiko Tsuno with husband, Jon Alpert, and grandson, Calum, outside of DCTV. PHOTO: Keiko Tsuno

Have you ever thought of making a documentary film? Keiko Tsuno is Co-Founder and Co-Executive Director of Downtown Community Television Center (DCTV), a community media center in downtown Manhattan. IndyKids reporter Nylu Avery Bernshtayn asks Keiko about the history of DCTV and the importance of electronic media education.

Nylu Avery Bernshtayn: What is your role at DCTV?

Keiko Tsuno: Jon [Alpert] and I started DCTV in 1972—42 years ago. We started with one black and white camera in our living room. Our space became bigger and bigger, and here we are!

NAB: Can you talk about the history of the building DCTV is housed in at 87 Lafayette Street, NYC?

KT: We moved here 35 years ago. It was an old firehouse, and the building had been abandoned for 16 years before we moved in. This area of NYC was called Collect Pond, and the firehouse was actually sinking into the marshland when we moved in! We had to fix everything ourselves, little by little, and eventually, we bought this historic landmark building from the city.

NAB: What types of classes are offered at DCTV?

KT: We have two categories of classes: one for the general public, and the other specifically for high school students. For 35 years, we have offered specialized workshops for high school students through our youth program. Anyone can participate in our general program, but the youth program is specifically for young people from low-income communities.

NAB: I know that you are a documentary filmmaker, editor and camerawoman. Why do you think it is important for young women and young people of color from disadvantaged communities to have access to electronic media arts?

KT: From the very beginning, this has been our mission. We keep the cost of our programming as low as possible so that people from underserved communities have the chance to explore electronic media arts. We think it is important for people from different communities to be able to tell their own stories. If they have access to their own camera, they can show their lives, and how people are living in their communities. We wanted to use this camera for a good cause for society—that was our only focus, and we have survived as a community media center for over 40 years.

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