Mission & History



DCTV is a media arts center that fosters diverse viewpoints by providing the public with training and resources in documentary filmmaking, and by creating outstanding documentary productions, with the belief that diversity of expression strengthens our democracy and enhances civil society.

Guiding Principles

  • Provide outstanding media arts education to underserved populations
  • Use media to bridge economic and social divides and promote understanding and tolerance
  • Apply the highest standards of excellence to the training production and exhibition of the media arts
  • Provide a welcoming, cooperative workspace for both clients and staff
  • Build a community of clients who will benefit from DCTV services and who are invested in the success and growth of the organization
  • Recognize that good business practice is essential to sustainability
  • Contribute positively to our communities and our environment


DCTV believes that expanding public access to the electronic media arts invigorates our nation's democracy. Founded in 1972 by Jon Alpert and Keiko Tsuno, DCTV has fostered a diverse and inclusive media arts community for 40 productive years. DCTV pursues its educational mission by introducing members of the community to the basics of electronic media through hundreds of free or low-cost production courses and access to broadcast-quality production equipment.

From humble beginnings (DCTV's first educational projects operated from the back of a dilapidated mail truck), DCTV has established a community-based foothold in a field dominated by large corporations. From its headquarters in a landmark firehouse in downtown New York City, DCTV serves individuals who could not otherwise afford a media arts education.

DCTV is the most honored independent nonprofit media center in the nation. Its productions, reaching millions of viewers each year, have received two Academy Award Nominations, 16 National Emmy Awards, 3 duPont-Columbia Awards, and every other major award in the television field. In recognition of DCTV's artistic integrity and social commitment, the organization was awarded a highly competitive National Endowment for the Arts "Leadership Projects for the Millennium" grant.

While DCTV's impact is measured nationally and internationally, its local roots remain strong. DCTV complements its own artistic achievements by working to extend the tools of television and electronic media production to a broader, more diverse set of artists. Toward this end, over the past 44 years DCTV has taught over 75,000 students, most of them members of low-income and minority communities, the essentials of television production. DCTV offers over 150 low-cost video and electronic media training workshops to 2,000 students a year. DCTV's members rely on DCTV's facilities to produce new and innovative work that truly reflects the points of view of all constituents in our society.