What is the Community Curator program?

The Community Curatorprogram invites representatives from community groups in the Rochester region to curate film screenings using VSW’s collection of over 10,000 film and video titles. Participants in the program will work with VSW staff to research and select a full program of films that speak to the interests of the group, while opening a broader dialog with the Rochester community. The goals of the Community Curator program are to empower cultural organizations to create their own media programming, expand global and cultural awareness within the Rochester community, and strengthen ties between students, artists, and communities that will cultivate multi-cultural relationships. Films will be shown in their original format whenever possible.

Who are the Community Curators?

VSW invites groups in the Rochester region with an established history of activity involving social justice, civil rights, racial equality, media literacy, international education, nonviolent political protest, religious tolerance and LGBTQ rights to participate in the Community Curator program. Also encouraged to participate are public educators, grassroots media groups, and youth from Rochester Public High Schools. Groups may elect one person or a group of representatives to choose the films for the program.

Who is the audience?

Everyone is welcome to the Community Curator screenings. Generally the audience includes: VSW students and members; representatives, members, friends and guests of the Community Curator; film enthusiasts; anyone interested in learning more about the subject matter covered in the screening.

Where do the screenings take place?

All screenings take place in the VSW Microcinema, located at 31 Prince Street, in the heart of Rochester’s Neighborhood of the Arts. There is limited free parking behind the building as well as on the street. Our facility is wheelchair accessible.

When do the screenings take place?

Community Curator™  screenings take place on the second or fourth Thursday of the month, as part of the VSW Salon. Some exceptions may apply. There are no screenings June-August.

Who runs the projectors and sound?

VSW staff project films and videos and control the PA system for the entire screening.

What kind of films are available?

Our film collection includes almost every genre, subject and film style. Most of our 16mm film collection originated in libraries, universities and museums, and therefore includes a large number of educational films, animated shorts, experimental and avant garde films as well as travel films. Also included are television programs, popular feature-length films and locally produced works. Most films in our collection were made between 1930-1990’s.
Our video collection includes many videos made by artists, filmmakers, community groups and activists between the years 1970-2010.  You can see some examples of these videos on our Vimeo page.

How long are the programs?

Between 70 and 90 minutes is preferred. Programs can consist of several short films or a couple of longer films.

How are the screenings publicized?

VSW will publicize all Community Curator screenings via our eNewsletter, social media and press release to local news outlets. For each screening, VSW will print a limited number of flyers to be distributed locally 2-3 weeks ahead of the event. The Community Curator is encouraged to promote the screening among their membership as well.

What is the time commitment?

The Community Curator should expect to spend between 15-20 hours over the course of 3-5 months identifying films, selecting titles for a program and publicizing the screening. While VSW staff is available to facilitate the process, the Community Curator is responsible for choosing the films, and promoting the screening to their constituents.

Stipends and fees

All screenings are open to the public. A $10 donation is suggested, but not required. Community Curators receive a stipend of $600 after the screening takes place. There are no fees for participants in the Community Curator program.

To Apply

If you/your group meet the qualifications and would like to be considered for an upcoming Community Curator screening, fill out our Community Curator application form.

For more information

Tara Merenda Nelson

Curator and Director of Public Programs

Visual Studies Workshop

31 Prince Street

Rochester NY 14607

585-442-8676 ex. 25


The VSW Salon and Community Curator™ Program are programmed by Tara Merenda Nelson, taranelson@vsw.org

The Community Curator™ Program is made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts and by the ArtWorks program of the National Endowment for the Arts.


  • The VSW Microcinema