March 2021 COVID-19 Update

March 23, 2021

It’s been an unbelievable year as we mark the one-year anniversary of the statewide shutdown in response to COVID-19. We haven’t provided our community with an update in a while, and we want to let you know where we’re at.

Over the past year, despite pausing our public hours, we have been able to complete a phenomenal amount of work, including engaging well over 1,500 Portlanders and 25 nonprofits through online classes and events, equipment loans, Census engagement and more. We encourage you to review our full recap here.

Right now, we continue to respond to safety guidelines with a limited building capacity and services offered by appointment only.

We are currently focusing our efforts on the following programs:

  • Supporting series producers in the development of their ongoing cable programs, including curbside checkouts and limited studio use
  • Facilitating participants of our seasonal project cohort, for whom we are providing training, equipment and production support
  • Open Signal Lab’s Black Filmmaker Fellowship and productions, which will include small in-person meetings as well as online events
  • Wrapping up our New Media Fellowship with artist Myles de Bastion, and a training collaboration with youth of Outside the Frame
  • Continuous broadcast on our five cable channels 24/7, including content blocks devoted to new COVID-19 information; access to submit content for broadcast continues to be open to anyone in the community, and we’ve made it easier to upload content from anywhere
  • Digital streaming of our cable channels and curated, community-submitted content on our new online network
  • Remote capture and broadcast of Portland City Council meetings each week

Internally, we are focused on fine-tuning our current shared leadership model and restructuring our full staff team for collaborative decision-making. We are also working with an equity consultant to complete our equity plan, which we expect to share more about in the second half of the year. 

We will continue working in this capacity for the next few months. Meanwhile, we are meeting with our board and partners at the City to finalize the next phase of our reopening plan which we will share in June and implement in July, with a chance in August to get feedback from the community. 

One thing we feel confident about is that after COVID, things will look a bit different, and that’s a shift we have been working toward for quite a while. According to our agreement with the City of Portland and our organization’s equity goals, we need to explicitly pivot our services to prioritize mediamakers of color, English language learners, disabled and low-income community members, and local nonprofits. We began working with our existing producers to identify how to best support these communities with a series of four-hour planning sessions in January 2020. Our seasonal project cohort is an early effort. 

We look forward to providing more updates, and talking with you about them, once we have more to share. Please reach out to us with any specific questions directly at directors [at] or via our online form

In the meantime, stay safe. We hope to see you through our production offerings or at our online events

— Your Open Signal Leadership Team

Elisa Barrios, Director of Equity
Ifanyi Bell, Open Signal Labs Executive Producer
Jim Bruce, Director of Information Systems
Rebecca Burrell, Director of Strategy
Jamie Plakos, Director of Community Media
Leslie Yan, Director of Administration

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