Closeup of two men and one women filmmakers setting up an indoor camera shot

Independent Film & Media Arts Field-Building Initiative

The Independent Film & Media Arts Field-Building Initiative is a collaborative partnership between the National Endowment for the Arts and Bay Area Video Coalition (BAVC) focused on creating a space for knowledge exchange and relationship-building, with an emphasis on promoting regional networks, equity, and career sustainability for individuals working in the film and media arts industry.

This initiative contributes to strengthening regional arts infrastructure by exploring the following areas of special interest:

  • Providing a national forum for ideas exchange, peer learning, and technical assistance to improve career pathways and support networks for emerging and established film and media artists and practitioners, with a focus on the inclusion of individuals and historically underserved communities whose opportunities might be limited by geography, ethnicity, economics, or disability.
  • Strengthening connectivity between existing networks and media arts communities across the United States, as well as strengthening the capacity of local, regional, and national arts infrastructure to better serve independent film and media artists. This includes fostering awareness of the interconnected issues, systemic challenges, and opportunities facing the independent film and media arts field and the broader cultural sector.
  • Elevating strategies, best practices, and exemplary models for building accessible and equitable career pathways into the film and media arts industry, and providing relevant expertise to local and regional cultural organizations and service providers.
  • Promoting the contributions of the independent film and media arts field to the wider arts sector and beyond, including aspects such as strengthening communities through the power of storytelling.

With Sundance Institute as the inaugural partner from 2019-2022, the initiative established the Independent Media Arts Group (IMAG), a nationwide network of more than 800 individuals representing local, regional, and national stakeholders across the United States, including artists and collectives, film and media arts organizations, film festivals, art house cinemas, cultural institutions, content distributors, broadcast entities, arts service organizations, and funders. IMAG activities include quarterly field meetings open to the public, which serve to provide a continuous forum for ideas exchange; peer learning; and technical assistance led by practitioners within and outside the IMAG network. Registration is free to join the IMAG network and gain access to the IMAG listserv. To register, please send an email to with subject line: Register for IMAG and email addresses to register.

Upcoming IMAG Field Meetings


Archived IMAG Field Meetings

May 2024
Meeting Agenda with Presenters | Meeting archive

August 2023
Meeting Agenda with Presenters | Meeting archive

December 2023
Meeting agenda with Presenters | Meeting Archive

March 2024
Meeting agenda with presenters | Meeting archive

Related Resources

  • Independent Film and Media Field Briefing 2022 | Download PDF

    Commissioned by the NEA and produced in partnership with the Sundance Institute through a cooperative agreement, this briefing is Intended to educate policymakers and decisionmakers about the challenges and opportunities related to the U.S. infrastructure serving independent filmmakers and media artists. Topics were informed through conversations with members of IMAG and other independent film stakeholders representing a diverse cross-section of roles in the field, including producers, directors, distributors, exhibitors, funders, sales agents, and nonprofit artist support organizations.

  • FUTURE VISIONS: What Will We Build? | PDF will be coming soon

    This document is a summary of highlights from four world-building sessions led by Karim Ahmad and Tony Patrick. Seeded from provocations outlined in Restoring the Future, participants were invited to envision and collaboratively prototype future models for a more abundant, healthy, and just arts ecosystem for media arts practitioners. Sessions were co-hosted by NEA and Sundance Institute through the Independent Film and Media Arts Field-Building Initiative in fall/winter 2021.

  • Documentary Sustainability Summit 2017| Access Event Archive

    Hosted by the NEA in partnership with the International Documentary Association (IDA), this convening explored issues facing the documentary film community with a goal of articulating strategies and initiatives to promote a more equitable and sustainable ecosystem for independent documentary professionals. This convening archive includes a summit report, agenda, and additional resources.

  • Case Studies: How Did They Fund It? | Read Case Studies

    Intended as an educational tool for filmmakers and organizations, this case study series offer analyses of project funding for the lifecycle of independent documentary films. Each case study includes a detailed synopsis of resources used during each project phase, uplifting the many ways financial and non-financial resources contribute to a project’s success and shows resource providers where additional support may be needed to better sustain the careers of independent filmmakers.

Banner photo: ©2017 Sundance Institute | Photo by Babak Dowlatshani