Ten-year-old non-profit Institute loses its funding.
The Mary Pickford Institute for Film Education (MPI), a Los Angeles based 501(c)3 non-profit organization that preserves the silent film legacy of producer/actress Mary Pickford, and uses her example to teach young children about film history and socially conscious filmmaking, has had its funding yanked by its long-time supporter, the Mary Pickford Foundation, a charitable trust started by Mary Pickford in 1958 and funded largely by investments of her original grant.
Mary Pickford (1892-1979), Hollywood’s original “Artist,” was the world's first movie superstar, known internationally as the original “America's Sweetheart.” Starting in 1909 with D.W. Griffith, she became her own producer by 1919, and produced more than 200 films. She co-founded United Artists, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and the Motion Picture and Television Fund Home and Hospital, and is today sometimes referred to by the title of Eileen Whitfield's 1997 biography: “The Woman Who Made Hollywood.”
Ten years ago, in 2002, the Mary Pickford Foundation established the non-profit MPI for the purposes of preserving Pickford's legacy and educational outreach. Now, after the Institute's considerable success in both areas, the Foundation wants to shut it all down.
“We've worked very hard for our namesake,” says Hugh Munro Neely, Director of Archive, Library and Legacy for the Institute. “We can't understand why the Foundation has suddenly decided to switch directions and desert us.”
Over the years the three-person staff of the Institute has developed curriculum, taught classes, maintained a free research library, produced film screenings with live music free to the public and restored Mary Pickford's silent films for DVD release.MPI has funded original research into film history, and introduced film screenings and provided free lectures.Executive director, Andi Hicks, points out “We have discovered, restored and released a number of Mary Pickford silent films with newly composed scores, in several cases presenting films live with the National Philharmonic, the Detroit Symphony and other major ensembles. And this June, our distributor will release a new 3-disk set of Pickford films on blu-ray and DVD, with introductions aimed specifically at introducingpre-teen and teenage children to the silent film.”
MPI has built a reputation for educational outreach to underserved and at-risk youth in Los Angeles with its signature enrichment program, the Mary Pickford Mobile Film Classroom (MFC). A production “studio-on-wheels,” the MFC travels throughout greater Los Angeles to bring digital media storytelling instruction to students, grades 3-12, who do not have access to technology at their school or home. MPI's educational outreach programs incorporate film history into a curriculum that provides a bridge from early cinema to modern filmmaking, empowering students to actualize their experiences as they utilize 21st century digital media tools.
The Mary Pickford Foundation has a three-man board of directors, and has assets reportedly in the neighborhood of 17 million dollars. The Foundation has said it now wishes to fund “projects,” not “entities,” and has informed Institute staff that it will not permit the Institute to use its assets, including Mary Pickford's films, for screenings or for promotion of the Institute and that it wishes MPI to remove Mary Pickford's name from its educational programs.
Andi Hicks notes, “The Institute's educational programs benefit from the role model of Mary Pickford. These programs are seeking funding from other sources, and they will continue without the Foundation's help.MPI's other public benefit programs, its archive, free research library, lectures, screenings and concerts are another matter. Without the Foundation to provide the support these services need, public access will certainly be impaired.”
In a year when the neglected art of silent cinema has been placed on center stage, thanks to multiple Oscar-winning films like “The Artist,” and “Hugo,” it seems ironic that an organization founded by and dedicated to the legacy of the most important woman in the history of film would decide to pull its funding for a non-profit that has been working specifically to preserve her legacy.
Please help us preserve the legacy of Mary Pickford by signing our petition. Let The Mary Pickford Foundation know that you believe preserving film history and using Mary's example as a role model to teach young children about film history and socially conscious filmmaking, is the best way to see her legacy carried into the 21st Century. In a year when the neglected art of silent cinema has been placed on center stage, thanks to multiple Oscar-winning films like “The Artist,” and “Hugo,” it seems ironic that an organization founded by and dedicated to the legacy of the most important woman in the history of film would decide to pull its funding for a non-profit that has been working specifically to preserve her legacy.
As Melissa Silverstein wrote in her Women and Hollywood blog: I care about this because Mary Pickford is a very important historical figure in Hollywood and it would be a huge shame if her legacy was erased. This would be another example of men erasing women's history. These board members need to come out from behind the screen and say what is going on, why they want to defund the Institute, and what they are going to be doing with the money in the future. They have a fiduciary responsibity to the public as board members of a foundation.
To learn more about The Mary Pickford Institute for Film Education (MPI), visit www.marypickford.com
You did it! Because you took the time to sign our petition and made your voice heard, The Mary Pickford Institute for Film Education is still here. All of us at MPI want to reach out and give each and every one of you a big hug! We%u2019re so grateful for this overwhelming response from people from all over the world that care about Mary Pickford%u2019s legacy, silent film and arts education. We are going to continue carrying out our mission is to cultivate awareness of film pioneer, Mary Pickford%u2019s legacy of creativity and charity by educating at-risk and underserved youth about filmmaking and film history. Our programs provide a bridge from early cinema to modern filmmaking, empowering students to articulate their experiences utilizing 21st Century digital media tools. In the spirit and legacy of Mary Pickford, we are dedicated to helping all students to have their voices heard, build their self-confidence and skills, empowering them to become producers, not merely consumers of media.
While we are keeping our name and website domain, www.marypickford.com, we no longer manage the Mary Pickford archive and library for the Mary Pickford Foundation. Nor will we have any financial support from the Mary Pickford Foundation. For those of you that want to know more about what the Foundation has planned for these assets, they have a new website www.marypickford.org. To learn more about how the Foundation spends its%u2019 money: http://www.guidestar.org/organizations/95-6093487/mary-pickford-foundation.aspx
The Mary Pickford Institute for Film Education have finished moving to our new address: 9415 Culver Blvd., Suite 8, Culver City, California 90232. Our email addresses and telephone number, 310-287-3700, remain the same, so you can send your questions about Ms. Pickford to email@example.com . Anything Hugh can%u2019t answer himself, he%u2019ll refer to our %u201Cbrain trust%u201D of Pickford experts that includes a number of prominent historians and Pickford biographers. You can also learn more about Mary by following Hugh%u2019s new blog, The Silent Archivist at http://marypickfordinstitute.tumblr.com. We will also be launching a redesigned website in the next week. In the meantime, for those of you not familiar with our programs, here%u2019s a bit about what we do and will be focused on going forward:
The Mobile Film Classroom is the signature enrichment program that defines the Mary Pickford Institute. It is a production studio-on-wheels that travels throughout Los Angeles County to bring digital media instruction to at-risk and underserved youth who do not have access to technology at their school or home. Our programs provide a bridge from early cinema to modern filmmaking using the tools that engage students the most, digital media. We ask what does it mean to be literate in the 21st Century? %u201CWe were pioneers in a brand new medium,%u201D Mary Pickford observed 100 years ago, as a new technology transformed our world. Today%u2019s youth can also be pioneers. By teaching them to use technology responsibly through relevant curriculum that parallels the Silent Era of film history to 21st Century digital media storytelling, we offer students a way to creatively express themselves while giving voice to issues in their community. We believe being literate in film history and knowing how to navigate, use and critique digital media is what it means to be literate in the 21st Century. We offer in-school and after-school workshops as well as professional development for educators.
Even though we lost a majority of our funding from The Mary Pickford Foundation, the demand for MPI's Mobile Film Classroom educational outreach program is greater than ever, due to deep budget cuts at our schools.Help keep disenfranchised students from being left even further behind in the digital divide. We need your support to keep this program going and expand it throughout California.
How you can help: Vote for MPI before Noon (PST) July 19th!
Vote for The Mary Pickford Institute in EPIP LA Viva La Art's challenge for MPI to be
the featured organization for Viva la Art!'s annual fall event, Art, Drinks, and Music.
Our nonprofit's big impact could be the beneficiary of this big fundraising event!
EPIP LA is part of a national organization that helps develop leadership in the philanthropic sector across the country. Viva La Art! organizes and empowers the arts community to promote education, activism, and fundraising for charitable causes.
%u2022 Submissions will be featured on our page and public voting will be open from July 10 to July 19 (noon Pacific Time).
%u2022 The winning organization will receive 100% of the net funds raised from, Viva la Art's annual event, Art, Drinks, and Music, which will be held on or before October 31, 2012.
%u2022 In order to vote, log in with your GOOD account. If you don't have a GOOD account, it's free to join. All you need is an email address or a Facebook account to register. You will be emailed a link that you need to click in order to validate your address.
Thank you all again for taking time to reach out to support us. If you%u2019d like to stay in touch, email firstname.lastname@example.org or sign up for our newsletter on our website www.marypickford.com
Sincerest thanks from all of us at The Mary Pickford Institute for Film Education.
Keep up the great work. Look what you've accomplished!
embed this petition
onto your site or blog
Make a difference for the issues you care about while adding cool interactive
content. Your readers sign without ever leaving your site. It's simple, just choose
your widget size and color and copy the embed code to your site or blog.