Press Release: Open Signal Raises Nearly Half a Million Dollars to Support Black Filmmakers

January 11, 2019

Open Signal Raises Nearly Half a Million Dollars to Support Black Filmmakers

Meyer Memorial Trust, The Oregon Community Foundation and other Oregon funders award significant grants

PORTLAND, ORE. – January 11, 2019 – Open Signal has earned a total of $475,470 to support Open Signal Labs, a new incubator for Portland-based African American filmmakers, the organization announced today.

Since February 2018, Open Signal — a media arts center located in Northeast Portland — has been awarded the following significant grants to support Open Signal Labs for the next three years:

  • Mt. Hood Cable Regulatory Commission Community Technology Grant - $136,840
  • Meyer Memorial Trust Building Community Grant - $135,000 (3 year grant)
  • The Oregon Community Foundation Creative Heights Grant - $96,000 (2 year grant)
  • The Collins Foundation Humanities Grant - $35,000
  • Oregon Cultural Trust Cultural Development Grant - $29,130

The program has also earned program sponsorships from Travel Portland, Advanced Broadcast Solutions and the Portland Film Office, raising an additional $43,500 combined.

Open Signal Labs convenes six emerging filmmakers from Portland’s black community for a 12-month fellowship, including professional training, mentorship and the development of new work. The first program of its kind in the state of Oregon, Labs addresses the stark lack of black voices in the film and television industry. The program was envisioned and is led by filmmaker and Northeast Portland native Ifanyi Bell, with the support of staffer RaShaunda Brooks.

“The community has embraced this program in a way that we never could have anticipated,” said Justen Harn, Open Signal’s Executive Director. “We are moved and encouraged that funders find this program to be as exciting and essential as we do.”

“It is exciting that, so far, we’ve been able to raise awareness and gather the support to get this program off the ground. However, I’m not in any way naive about the challenges ahead with regard to sustaining funding for this program,” said Ifanyi Bell, who serves as Executive Producer for Open Signal Labs. “If we’re going to challenge the centuries of harmful and intentional exclusion in the media industry, we’ve got to be invested for the long term.”

Fellows for the pilot 2018-19 program year are Kamryn Fall, Elijah Hasan, Tamera Lyn, Sika Stanton, Noah Thomas and Dustin Tolman. The work they create during their fellowship will be shared with the community at the Hollywood Theatre in June 2019. Oregon Film and Artists Repertory Theatre also serve as program partners.

Open Signal operates primarily through the generous support of the City of Portland and the Mt. Hood Cable Regulatory Commission, which directs cable franchise dollars to Open Signal to deliver community media services and program five local cable channels with independently produced content.

Over the past twelve months, Open Signal has raised more than $100,000 in additional funds from The Oregon Community Foundation’s Studio to School Initiative; Juan Young Trust; The Jackson Foundation; Oregon Arts Commission, a state agency; Columbia Bank; Instrument, a digital creative firm; and from individual donors, to support operations and youth programming.

This fundraising initiative is part of a brand new effort launched by Open Signal in 2017 to stabilize and diversify revenue streams and to grow the organization.

Learn more about Open Signal Labs at:

Learn more about Open Signal’s fundraising efforts at:



Rebecca Burrell, Director of Strategy & Development
rebecca [at]
(503) 673-8709

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