Mission & History



Founded in 1972, DCTV is one of the nation’s oldest and most honored media arts centers. It is located in a landmarked Firehouse in New York City where community screenings and discussions, youth media and continuing education programs, and affordable filmmaking resources all exist side by side with DCTV’s own, award-winning documentary productions.

Guiding Principles

  • Make media arts education accessible and affordable for diverse populations
  • Use media to bridge economic and social divides and promote understanding and tolerance
  • Provide a welcoming, cooperative space for both members and staff
  • Build a community of filmmakers who will utilize from DCTV’s services to benefit the community.
  • Contribute positively to our communities and our environment
  • Provide education and opportunity to local youth


DCTV was founded in 1972 with the goal of using filmmaking as a tool to catalyze, inform and empower communities. From humble beginnings (DCTV's first educational projects operated from the back of a dilapidated mail truck), we used film to gather Chinatown residents together to solve local problems. These early documentaries and public screenings helped win important improvements, including ousting corrupt school boards, securing community control over our local hospital, and fighting for the rights of taxi drivers and sweatshop workers.

Nearly 50 years later, DCTV has grown into one of the leading documentary production and film education centers in the country. We provide public programs that meet the needs of a diverse and ever-growing community of people who want to tell stories that matter to them, and stories that support social change. We break down the financial and cultural barriers that make documentary film inaccessible to so many people, and instead provide training and resources to all.

DCTV’s programs serve 15,000 people every year plus millions of viewers world wide. Our community screenings, master classes, youth education programs and affordable production resources all exist side by side with award-winning documentary work.

DCTV’s productions reach millions of viewers each year and have received two Academy Award Nominations, 17 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 the highly competitive National Endowment for the Arts "Leadership Projects for the Millennium" grant.