MOCAtv: A YouTube “Original Channel”

John Toba, MOCA, USA, Bret Nicely, MOCA The Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles, USA, EMMA REEVES, MOCA Los Angeles, USA

In 2011, during the Art in the Streets exhibition at MOCA, then Museum Director Jeffrey Deitch was touring the show with legendary Hollywood talent agent Ari Emanuel. Ari was not yet on the board of MOCA but would join soon after. The line for the show stretched all the way around the block. They were amazed by the attendance for the exhibition. Ari knew that YouTube were about to begin taking submissions for the award of the first round of official YouTube channels, what came to be known as the Original Channels. They decided MOCA should submit a proposal and with the help of museum staff and the power of talent agency WME, that’s what they did.

MOCA was the only museum to become an Original Channel, the only non-profit (other than TED), and the only one with Art as their mission. There was cooking, music, VICE, dance, Jay-Z, Shaquille O’Neal, Madonna, Sourcefed, Young Hollywood…. and then there was MOCAtv.

This was all brand new. YouTube intended to seed a new economy made up of professional YouTube channels funded by the commercial world. They had already stolen a large chunk of the revenue of the newspaper business, and now aspired to do the same to the TV business. But in their wisdom they decided, that one, one hundredth of their gamble on this adventure would be with the content created by a contemporary art museum. Here is what happened next.

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