Ovation Crafts Nine Local Arts Alliances

Ovation TV has crafted alliances with nine major arts institutions in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago and New Orleans to generate cross-platform content and local marketing opportunities for those institutions and cable affiliates.

The partnerships draw in the Chicago Symphony Orchestra; the Harlem School of the Arts; the Los Angeles Opera; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts Institute and P.S. Arts, in Los Angeles.

“Localism will be the key to our success, just as it has been the core of the cable business. It's what separates them from competitors,” Ovation chief operating officer Ron Garfield said. Ovation previously announced the Harlem School and P.S. Arts partnerships.

A program under production with L.A.'s MOCA is representative of the output of the partnership, Ovation senior vice president Gaynor Strachan Chun said. Ovation is producing a one-hour program on MOCA's permanent collection, interviewing the curator, art collectors and living artists featured in the collection.

The museum will utilize the film in its reading room; the cable network will televise a half-hour version of the program, with the full hour made available online.

In Chicago later this year, the channel will produce a special on a show by American conceptual artist Jeff Koons. The show will “end up in various forms” and can be made available to operators outside the Chicago market, for the Koons exhibition will not travel to other cities.

With the Harlem School of the Arts, channel executives are looking for ways to do student contests backed by cable affiliates, as well as generating co-branded newsletters and producing public service announcements.

Ovation — bought by Hubbard Media, The Weinstein Co. and other investors in August 2006 and relaunched last June — has initially focused on three major markets, but will expand the partnerships to other communities. The channel has already brought together Time Warner Cable and BalletMet in Columbus, Ohio, to partner on a literacy program, Chun said.

Ovation executive vice president Chad Gutstein, who is spearheading the partnerships, indicated that live programming of, for instance, the Chicago Symphony is complicated by guild and union issues. Much of the partnership-generated programming will be new production or tap into art institutions' archives.