Partner Profile: Community Access Television Services

The team at Bloomington’s Community Access Television Services (a.k.a. CATS) has been capturing footage of Lotus World Music and Arts Festival for almost two decades. The result is a rich archive of more than 250 memorable performances that capture the spirit of Lotus — video “postcards” that fans can enjoy in between Festival seasons.

A department of the Monroe County Public Library, CATS been documenting Bloomington life for more than 40 years. Government meetings make up 75% of their coverage, with community events like Lotus making up the rest.

CATS began recording selected Lotus sets early on, at the suggestion of then Executive Director, Lee Williams. Of those early days, Station Manager Michael White recalls, “A lot of the credit for our coverage goes to staffers John Ward and Martin O’Neill. Both are musicians in their own right, and they knew that this was an amazing opportunity for both the Festival and for CATS. We had a collective sense that this was going to be a big thing.”

In the first decade, CATS did more “field coverage” among different venues,  including the library auditorium and the Convention Center (now no longer used as Festival venues), and the Buskirk-Chumley Theater. “It was really great to have the festival right here in the library,” says Programming Manager Adam Stillwell.

These days, CATS focuses on the Buskirk-Chumley Theater, where fine sound quality and production values allow for more ambitious coverage. Annually, the team gets seven or eight programs from recording Festival sets there. “We look forward to Lotus weekend because it presents a unique opportunity, to have a world music festival right here in downtown Bloomington,” says Stillwell. “It’s the coolest and classiest event coverage we do, and it represents our community well.”

How do fans get to see this fabulous footage? It usually takes two or three months for CATS staff to edit the many hours of Lotus material that they shoot, at which point playback begins on the CATS Library Channel. Performances from Lotus 2014 are in rotation now, on Tuesday and Thursdays at 10 p.m. It’s also accessible as streaming video; check the CATS site for the Lotus schedule, to find out which performances will be featured.

And if you want to request a particular Lotus artist from the archives, you can. “We don’t yet have a means to search for (or view) programs on-line,” says Stillwell, “but folks can come to the library and see what’s available and even make playback requests.”

Michael White adds, “We’ve been honored to give Lotus the coverage it deserves. I hope that 25 years from now, CATS and Lotus will still be working together, providing even more comprehensive coverage of the Festival.”

CATS is in the process of digitizing its archives. Members of the public can ask to browse the Lotus archives and request playback on the Library Channel.

CATS is in the process of digitizing its archives. Members of the public can ask to browse the Lotus archives and request playback on the Library Channel.

CATS staff photo, right:

L – R, back row: Robert Stockwell (technical operations manager), Zac Canale (production specialist), Dave Walter (production specialist), Glenn Myers (production specialist), Adam Stillwell (programming manager), Tyler Lake (production specialist), Michael White (station mgr), Addison Rogers (master control operator). Front row: Jeannette Lehr (production specialist) and Martin O’Neill (production manager). On the wall behind the staff are some of CATS awards — at least 10 of which resulted, in part, from coverage of the Lotus World Music and Arts Festival.

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