In 1968, with a $50,000 grant from the American Film Institute, the Community Film Workshop Council (CFWC) was founded to assist filmmakers and filmmaking groups emerging from low income communities throughout the United States and Puerto Rico.
Cliff Frazier was hired as CFWC’s Executive Director. A national organization headquartered in New York City, CFWC enjoyed an inspirational Board of Directors that included Sidney Poitier, Harry Belafonte, George Stevens, Jr., Shirley MacLaine, Ossie Davis and Gordon Parks. With funding received from the U.S. Office of Economic Opportunity in 1969, CFWC trained minority filmmakers for entry level positions as newsfilm camera operators, sound recording technicians, newsfilm editors and news writers, placing them at local television stations throughout the United States. This initiative changed the employment of minorities in the television industry nationally.
CFWC also created film work-shops in Chicago, Atlanta, Hartford, Santa Fe, New York (CFWC of New York received major funding from the NYC Department of Employment to continue its film and video training programs), San Juan, Visalia, California and the Apalshop in Whitesburg, Kentucky. Two of the workshops, CFWC of Chicago and Apalshop, continue to exist over 40 years later. Apalshop also operates its own radio station, a theatre and a distribution company.
“My dearly beloved husband, Ossie Davis and I were very proud of the accomplishments of Third World Cinema, Community Film Workshop Council and the Institute of New Cinema Artist. For over thirty years we marveled at their accomplishments.”
Professional actors Ossie Davis, James Earl Jones, Diana Sands, Rita Moreno, film producer Hannah Weinstein, and writers Piri Thomas and John O. Killens were determined to train Blacks and Puerto Ricans for behind the scene film jobs. The result was Third World Cinema Productions, Inc. (TWC), which had two objectives: to train people of color for work in the film industry and to make feature films from a minority perspective.
TWC received its funding from federal grants including $200,000 from the NYC Manpower Career and Development Administration and $400,000 from the Model Cities program to operate its training programs; Cliff Frazier was the administrator. The goal of TWC was to infuse Black films with warm, human relationships to alter the negative impact on young Black youth of films that concentrated on violence and crime.
Founded in 1971 by the iconic actor and activist Ossie Davis, the Institute of New Cinema Artists (INCA) had a mission to teach both the creative and technical trades employed in a variety of related film trades. Cliff Frazier was the Executive Director of the program, which placed over 600 minorities in film, television and allied media industry jobs.
In addition, to prepare minorities for jobs in the recording industry, INCA initiated a training program to provide instruction in recording engineering, record production, concert production, concert sound mixing, artist road management, artist personal management, public relations and more.
The alumni (students, interns and apprentices) of these programs made history and made a difference in film, television and allied media, achieving many “firsts” such as Mary Vaultz, the first Black television news camerawoman in the United States; who was hired at WMAL-TV, Washington, DC; Jessie Maple, the first woman to hold a union card in the Cameraman’s Local 644 and Film Editor’s Local 771; Sandi Vernon, the first Black woman hired as Production Manager at WNET-TV, New York, NY; Diane Tibbs, the first Black woman to operate video cameras for the New York Yankee baseball games; and Oyenike Osiapem, the first woman hired as a permanent video technician at WPIX-TV, New York, NY.
Additionally, the alumni of CFWC, TWC and INCA are industry trailblazers; notable alumni include Neema Barnette, an Emmy Award winning producer/director, the first African American woman to direct a television situation comedy and has directed numerous television shows and feature films. Preston Holmes, noted producer of films such as Malcolm X, Hustle and Flow, Posse, Juice, Panther, Something New, and many others; Stanley Nelson, Film Producer/Director and MacArthur Fellow (Genius Award); Warrington Hudlin, Film Producer (House Party and Boomerang); Rod Daniels, Senior Anchor, WBAL-TV, Baltimore; Lyn Brown, Anchor, Fox 5 TV, New York City; Marion Boykin, Director of Government Relations, Time Warner Cable; Robin Verges, Sr. VP Rubenstein Associates, New York City; Jeff Burns, Vice President, Ebony Magazine, New York City; Phillip Ghee, Director West Coast Operations, BET Los Angeles; Saundra Lloyd, New Jersey Bureau Manager, WABC-TV; Donna Williams, Public Relations Director, PBS; and E’Lois Hibbert, Manager of Advertising/Sales, USA Cable Network.
In 1986, International Communications Association (ICA) was originally founded by its president, Cliff Frazier, to continue the successful work of the Community Film Workshop Council, Third World Cinema and Institute of New Cinema Artists. These organizations were responsible for over 2,000 people of African, Asian and Latino descent, women and disadvantaged Whites in obtaining opportunities of employment in the film, television, recording, advertising and allied media industries.
Voza Rivers and Ademola Olugebefola joined ICA’s Board of Directors in 1991, just as the Harlem-based nonprofit organization obtained the Dwyer Warehouse. ICA’s vision for the Dwyer Warehouse comprised a journey of nearly 20 years, culminating in a co-development partnership with Cross Construction. The result was the Dwyer Condominiums, a residential building in Harlem that replaced the former 9-story Dwyer Warehouse but whose design recalls the original building’s façade.
The 10-story, 51-unit Dwyer Condominiums were completed in 2009 and opened with near full occupancy, basically through word of mouth advertising. With retail space on the ground level occupied by a children’s gym, ICA, the owners of the 7,000 square feet of community space on the lower level, became responsible for the build-out of the ICA headquarters and the space that became known as the Dwyer Cultural Center.
The Dwyer Cultural Center (DCC) is a development of International Communications Association and it has a partnership with Community Works and other organizations that bring cultural and educational programs to the Dwyer for the local and global community. The world’s cultural destination in Harlem, the Dwyer, is dedicated to the history and traditions of Harlem, offering visual art exhibitions, live music and theatre performances, workshops, arts education programming, public forums, movie screenings, spoken word and celebrations of all kinds for intergenerational and diverse audiences.
The community has embraced the Dwyer as a venue for established and emerging artists to present art and as a gathering place for patrons of the arts. The Dwyer is a community resource offering multi-purpose rental spaces customized to accommodate groups large and small, formal or informal, public and private. As one of the “newest kids on the block” in historic Harlem, the Dwyer offers a unique and beautiful environment for community residents, civic associations or corporate and nonprofit organizations to hold their special events.
Over 40,000 people have visited the Dwyer, which has presented, produced or hosted over 350 events in the first two and a half years since opening in July 2009. People from all walks of life have participated in the DCC programming, from icons and celebrities, university presidents, nationally and internationally known performers, global and local politicians plus famous media personalities, to hundreds of school children and families.
With a well-earned reputation that “if it’s happening in Harlem, it’s happening at the Dwyer”, many of Dwyer’s full and varied calendar of events are open to the public offering a free or low cost admission price, making this nonunion house accessible to the community.