360 Incubator aims to amplify diverse voices in public media

An initiative to help media creators of color break into public broadcasting is also helping those artists realize the importance of their voices.

The 360 Incubator and Fund from the National Black Programming Consortium is now taking applications for its second year of fellows, who receive mentorship, training and networking opportunities through NBPC and other public and commercial media professionals.

At the NBPC incubator in Harlem, participants hone pitches and learn to tailor their presentations to different audiences; they build toward Pitch Black, where a panel of media professionals picks winners. They can also embed within stations to better understand the public broadcasting system. Last year’s four winners continue to develop their projects and pitches, using grants from $50,000 to $150,000 from CPB.

The media makers have discovered the challenges of filmmaking in Africa, tackled the unpredictability of launching a reality show, learned how tough funding a dramatic series can be, and realized that going through the incubator “is a grind, but the payoff is great,” as one said.

The major lesson for NBPC was that “independent producers really do need this support,” said Kay Shaw, director of programs and acquisitions. “Most of the time, we give them money and hope for the best. But we’ve realized that an immersive, intensive, hands-on atmosphere really shapes those projects much more quickly.”

Here’s an update on last year’s winners.