National Black Programming Consortium undergoes name change, keeps mission

The National Black Programming Consortium (NBPC) since 1979 has brought films and other programming produced by Blacks to the American audience. The organization now has a new name: Black Public Media (BPM).

The name change was first brought up in 2011, but in the last couple of years, BPM Executive Director Leslie Fields-Cruz and the NBPC board began exploring the possibility and did its analysis and assessment, Fields-Cruz told the MSR in recent phone interview. She added that it was important that the name change would position the organization positively for the present and future.

The name change is in conjunction with the group’s relaunching of its website (www.blackpublicmedia.org), which will include content for the general public, short films, filmmaker chats and educational discussion guides on its programs, as well as BPM Producers’ Portal for filmmakers, according to a BPM press release.

A series of projects and events from WOKE! Broadening Access to help Black “creatives” connect to one another has also been launched. Fields-Cruz stressed that BPM’s mission is to present the Black experience and the African Diaspora to all viewers and that “will not change.”

“It is Black Public Media for the public,” the executive director reiterates. “We are looking to expand in emerging media, and not looking at traditional media as (just) public television. We are really public media in many different spaces, including PBS, You Tube and other such media.”

The Harlem-based, national arts nonprofit organization over the years has funded Black-produced films — such as 2017 Oscar nominee I Am Not Your Negro — and has brought programming to PBS, such as its signature documentary series AfroPoP. BPM’s focus on “developing content with quality and purpose, and make it available as broadly to the public” reaffirms Fields-Cruz.

“Our content does well in the festival area,” Fields-Cruz pointed out. A movie on Lorraine Hansberry is scheduled for PBS broadcast in January, she reported. “We have been doing well.”

Fields-Cruz also announced the group’s receiving a multi-year grant from the MacArthur Foundation, as well as a New York Department of Cultural Affairs grant to help in its funding efforts. “We are staying for as long as we can,” she stressed.

Finally, “I think it’s important for everyone to know that we have a relatively new name, but we continue to provide quality and purposeful content, and our ongoing support for filmmakers of African descent has not changed. We are going to ensure that our voices and our perspectives [as Black people] are” fairly represented in the media, concluded Fields-Cruz.

 

Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses to challman@spokesman-recorder.com.