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Fast Foreword: The Editor's Column, Spring 2017

By Tom White

Dear Readers,

As we go to press, Americans are facing the possibility of losing some of our most cherished and vital federal agencies—namely, the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, PBS and the Institute for Museum and Library Sciences. Add to the mix the National Science Foundation, which has supported so many documentary projects over the years.

America has never been quick to embrace a full-bodied cultural policy or infrastructure, despite the trove of traditions and innovations that Americans have unleashed on the rest of the world. And while the scions of the Industrial Revolution channeled their considerable largesse into grand museums and concert halls, it would take another century for the federal government to recognize the value of culture in enriching and enlivening a national identity.

So, imagine a nation without culture—without stories, without songs, without images. Without history. Without the means to imagine, to create, to provoke, to soar. Without mirrors to reflect both our darker demons, and our better angels. Without windows on what's possible. What would that nation look like?

And it can be argued that these federal agencies have spurred further support from foundations, corporations and individuals—and have played a vital collective role as a force multiplier in job creation, educational performance and overall economic impact.

That said, we devote the Spring issue to funding, fundraising and, a familiar refrain from Getting Real 2016, sustainability. The Getting Real conference spurred many discussions, confabs and convenings, particularly among the funding community. Lauren Kushner checks in with representatives from Catapult Fund, Chicken & Egg Pictures, BritDoc Foundation and Fledgling Fund about what their funding priorities and strategies will be in this strange new world.

Crowdfunding has proved a force in fundraising, especially for documentaries—so much so that Kickstarter was compelled recently to promote Liz Cook to Director of Documentary Film. Akiva Gottlieb talks to Cook about her new role in shepherding docmakers through the process of building and maintaining a crowdfunding campaign.

This past February, IDA partnered with the NEA to convene a session in Washington, DC on sustainability. Advocacy specialist Michael Bracy and media strategist Cynthia Lopez spearheaded the convening, and are here to report on the challenges, opportunities and next steps for creating a path for sustainability in the documentary ecosystem. One of the attendees at the convening, Lance Kramer, offers up a case study of how he and his brother Brandon navigated the rocky shoals of starting up and maintaining a documentary production company.

Finally, and closer to home, IDA officially launched its Enterprise Documentary Fund in February, with veteran journalist and filmmaker Carrie Lozano at the helm. She shares her insights about the thinking behind, the need for and the mission of the initiative.

Yours in actuality,

Tom White