This year has indeed been one for the record books. However, it’s a book I’d rather not read and would hope it’s thrown into the abyss of history. The challenges have been great from lock downs, mask wars, and virtual zoom meetings to social distancing and an economic impact that has affected all businesses and organizations.
And of course, there has been the issue of racial injustice, social protest and police reform. That divide is tearing at our country’s fabric and we must find a way to connect with each other, now more than ever. It has been a roller coaster ride since February and everybody wants to get off the car. But it’s a ride we must take as the country reckons with its past, faces its history and finds a way forward.
MATV/UMA has not been exempted from the events of the past year. It came as we began our re-branding process which we have now extended through the fall. In March, we had to shut our facility down to the public. Staff and interns began working from home but we got creative and held several successful virtual workshops and events through May and July. Our online publication, Neighborhood View, exploded in content as local citizen journalists covered stories documenting the effects of the pandemic on our community. We also kept our commitment of providing coverage of local government meetings as our political leaders and municipal workers learned the art of zooming and we recorded each meeting.
At the end of March, the Mayor began his “live” call-in show from Studio A called, “Covid-19 Update” which was produced weekly until August when it went bi-weekly. His guests have included Health Director Chris Webb, Superintendent of Schools, John Oteri and Dr. Kourtney Nickerson, the Chairperson from the Malden Board of Health. These programs have been invaluable to the local viewers as they received the latest updates regarding the coronavirus.
This August, MATV/UMA began slowly opening up our resources. Equipment can now be booked, Studio A & B can be scheduled and our Edit and Podcasting suites are now available upon request. Of course, we are open by appointment only and masks and social distancing will be required when visiting our facility.
But all kidding aside, this pandemic has also been a learning and growing experience—for most of us as individuals, and certainly for MATV, as it transitions to a new identity as UMA, Urban Media Arts. It has allowed us time to experiment in the virtual world with how to connect across time zones, cultures, place and perspectives. It informs how we use new media tools to do what we have always done best — foster connection, promote civic engagement, provide opportunities for meaningful dialog, and promote the creative expression of ideas, art, and culture.
I want to thank all our members who have been so patient during the last 6 months. I also want to thank our staff who have been doing a fantastic job under these difficult times. We are hopeful for the future and we look forward to seeing you virtually at our first ever, “Virtual Zoom Membership and Election Meeting” on October 1st.
Be well, be safe and be smart.
Executive Director, Ron Cox