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About the Co-Creation Initiative

THE CO-CREATION INITIATIVE is a 4-year project of Skidmore College’s John B. Moore Documentary Studies Collaborative (MDOCS), funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation with the aim of linking the college with partners in its local and regional communities, through collective, creative engagement with the challenges of our time and the stories of our place. 

Officially launched in early 2021, we have provided an open invitation (to community members, organizations, collectives, and interest groups of any stripe or type) to form collaborative working groups or “cluster collaboratives,” to brainstorm and ultimately develop projects that:

  1. Have an element of nonfiction storytelling – they involve communicating (in any medium) about the world to an audience
  2. Enrich and complicate our local, regional and global dialogues, by addressing important issues and especially those that need a deeper examination
  3. Bring people into new relationships, across disparate organizations, communities and other lines of difference, cemented by making together, or “co-creating.”

Rooted in the teaching and research mission of Skidmore College, as well as the socially-critical and justice-seeking orientation of the documentary arts, The Co-creation Initiative seeks to deepen the engagement of our educational enterprise with the civil society that surrounds it. Placing the needs, goals, and struggles of our off-campus partners in dialogue with the daily work of higher learning (teaching, learning, researching, communicating, creating, critiquing, inventing), the Initiative seeks to develop relationships of reciprocity and mutual aid, creating flows of shared knowledge and shared labor to unite us in a shared mission to understand and transform our world.
To learn more about some of the groundwork we have laid for The Co-creation Initiative, you can read about some recent MDOCS Projects in Public Life. These past projects embed Skidmore students and faculty in disparate kinds of organizations, seeking to shed light upon urgent regional issues, finding incisive and creative forms to express truths, circulating these stories locally and globally, and keeping the needs and values of our partners at the center of the enterprise. 
The Co-creation Initiative will support:

  • Round I: development funding to bring individuals together to work in “cluster collaboratives,” which will include participants from both on- and off-campus, who will gather to learn about one another’s work, develop and test out possible frameworks for thinking and creating together, and sculpt the ideas that might lead to impactful projects
  • Technical and craft support for clusters, as they start to gather material and shape stories -- including equipment loans, technical production assistance, software tutorials, consultations, and critiques.
  • Round II: production funding, which will be awarded to Round I clusters that are ready to take the next step: building a team that includes creatives and professionals to aid in crafting polished, public-facing projects.
  • Ongoing support for Round I clusters, allowing space for open-ended processes, even if they don’t immediately lead to production - ideas may fizzle, clusters may change in composition, and co-created nonfiction may not prove to be the right outlet for every cluster.
  • Skidmore courses and assignments that interface with the projects and community partners in the Co-creation Initiative
  • Residencies, public events and visits by expert voices in documentary co-creation, as well as  professional consultations that orient cluster collaboratives towards success.
  • Re-grants to partnering organizations who make substantial commitments to the Initiative