Portable Channel’s mission was to expand television into a medium for social dialog and artistic expression by encouraging community involvement in TV production.

  • Portable Channel was a Rochester, NY non-profit (1971–1987) founded by documentary filmmaker and activist Bonnie Sherr Klein. Portable Channel supported community access to video equipment, provided training, and produced programs with an emphasis on community activism and documentary work.

    The Portable Channel tape collection consists of 910 videotapes in various formats; the majority of the material is ½ inch open reel with some ¾ inch and a few examples of 1 inch and quad. About half of the videotapes in the collection were produced for HOMEMADE TV that ran from 1972 to 1975 on WXXI-TV in Rochester, NY.

    In May, 2020, VSW received a Recordings at Risk grant from  Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) to digitize 200 of the earliest Portable Channel tapes. The grant program is made possible by funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Videos from the CLIR project can be seen on the VSW Vimeo page as they become available.


    All programs are © Portable Channel / Visual Studies Workshop. For more information please contact taranelson@vsw.org