The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Educational Programs: An Interview with Price Hicks

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This interview with Price Hicks of The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (ATAS) took place 6/11/99 at Ca Brea Restaurant in Los Angeles.

The Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (ATAS) was founded in 1946. It is a non-profit organization devoted to the advancement of telecommunications arts and sciences and to fostering creative leadership in the telecommunications industry. Currently, there are 9,500 members who come from all phases of the industry. The membership requirements are tailored to each area's particular peer group. Academy policy and programs are governed by a Board of Governors made up of elected members from the various peer groups.

While the Academy is probably best known for awarding Emmys(R), that is just one of the functions it performs. It also publishes EMMY magazine, maintains The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Hall of Fame and the Archive of American Television, and sponsors numerous special events for the television production community. The topics range from issues involving traditional broadcasts to those of new media and emerging digital technology. Most relevant to the academic community is the work done by the Educational Affairs Committee.

For some years, the staff Director of Educational Programs and Services for the Academy has been Price Hicks. I spoke to her recently about the educational work of the Academy. She commented on some of the efforts of the educational affairs committee, including student internships, faculty seminars, and student awards. We also talked about the Academy's visiting artist program in which members of the television academy make themselves available to teach in their specific areas of expertise. Additionally Ms. Hicks commented on some concerns about the quality of recent student work.

I began our conversation with some questions about Ms. Hicks's background.

Hicks: I went to Alabama College for Women. I majored in art and Spanish and spent most of my so-called free time in the college theater where I designed sets, but mainly I did lighting. I moved to California and decided to go back to school. I went to Cal State Northridge, and at that time they would not allow a second bachelor of arts degree, so I just took courses in journalism, radio, film and TV I got myself an internship at KCET, the public television station in Los Angeles. The internship turned into a parttime job, which turned into a full-time job, which turned into my becoming a producer, after a year.

Cury: And then how long did you produce?

Hicks: I was at KCET producing for 14 years. I did hundreds of shows, both news and public affairs and cultural affairs. Then I freelanced for three years, and then I came to the Academy in 1985 as the first and only, so far, Director of Educational Programs and Services.

Cury: Is there a special charge that the Education Committee has?

Hicks: I would say that our business and our mission is to provide professional experiences and opportunities, both within the industry and educationally for both students and professors . . . professors who are teaching media courses, especially television, and students who are pursuing careers in television. This is why we have the internship program for students which covers 27 different areas of television work. We have the College Awards competition which is for student productions, and in that program we are simply looking for excellence in student productions that were done for college course credit. We have the faculty seminar, where we bring 18 professors from all over the country to Los Angeles every fall for four days of total immersion in prime time entertainment television and how it's done in L.A. We also have the Visiting Artist Program, in its second year, where we send Academy members who have volunteered to be visiting artists to go in that capacity to colleges and universities nationwide for a lecture, for seminars, for workshops, for actual classroom work, whatever. …