Culture365 Q & A: Aurora Picture Show

Submitted by STintern1 on Wed, Feb 16th at 11:08 pm

Hi Culture 365 Members and Spacetaker visitors,


I’m back with another entry in our Culture365 Q & A series. This week we are featuring one of Spacetaker’s Culture 365 Non-profit members, the Aurora Picture Show. Associate Director Rachel Blackney Tepper was kind enough to take time out of her busy schedule to answer my questions.


Aurora Picture Show is a non-profit micro-cinema that presents artist-made, non-commercial film and video. Founded in 1998 by Andrea Grover, the first home for Aurora was in a former church building where Grover and her family both lived and worked in the microcinema. Now the home base for Aurora Picture Show is located near The Menil Collection and houses the Aurora Video Library and Aurora Video Salons. Since 2009, Aurora screenings and events have been nomadic and travel all over the City of Houston in unique settings and alternative art spaces. Aurora has distinguished itself as a home for vanguard work that falls outside of conventional moviemaking and traditionally has fewer exhibition outlets. Their screenings are known for being memorable and not-to-be-missed as they are not often repeated and are difficult to duplicate. All this information and much more can be found at the Aurora Picture Show website.


Rachel shares with us what the Aurora Picture Show is all about in this week’s Culture365 Q & A: 


What is the Aurora Picture Show’s mission?                


Aurora Picture Show is a non-profit micro-cinema that presents artist-made, non-commercial film and video.  Aurora is dedicated to expanding the cinematic experience and promoting the understanding and appreciation of moving image art.


What significant opportunities does the city of Houston bring to Aurora Picture Show?


Being located in Houston, Aurora is able to work in a great community with an exceptional diversity of organizations and audiences that support our organization.  From partnerships with arts organizations, such as DiverseWorks and The Menil Collection, to community organizations such as Buffalo Bayou Partnership and the Houston Humane Society, Aurora collaborates with a great a variety of partners that not only enhance our programming, but also add to the audience that we reach.  Furthermore, Houston is a unique city to host site-specific screenings including along the bayou or at Houston institutions such as Saint Arnold Brewery.  Plus the people of Houston are extremely welcoming and open to our non-traditional ways, from experimental films to laser light graffiti shows; our audiences embrace the creative freedom of our programming.


How can Houston artists (directors, curators, actors, designers, etc.) get involved with Aurora Picture Show?


For filmmakers and media artists, Aurora Picture Show offers a home for exhibition of films that do not traditionally have as many outlets, including short-length films, documentaries and experimental works.  Filmmakers are invited to submit their works to Aurora Picture Show that fit our mission of supporting works with less exhibition outlets (please check the website for guidelines and applications).  Aurora has year-round submissions to be included in themed screening programs and also accept Extremely Shorts Film Festival entries (film and video shorts under three minutes long), as well as have opportunities to be included in our installation space, Flickerlounge, hosted at DiverseWorks Art Space.  Furthermore, Aurora hosts many educational events such as monthly video salons, filmmaker Q&As, and youth filmmaking initiatives for future artists.


Aurora is committed to paying artist fees for screenings to encourage and support these often under-paid media and film artists, and we are committed to keeping submissions and entry fees accessible. Furthermore, we are dedicated to promotion of these artists and assisting them in getting their works shown.


Members of Aurora Picture Show have other opportunities, including reduced submission fees, networking with visiting filmmakers and curators, feedback from industry professionals and other industry-oriented gatherings that help working and aspiring artists further their craft.  We also highlight members in our online Curator's Corner to introduce emerging artists to our patrons.


Additionally, through the Warhol Foundation Initiative, Aurora Picture Show, DiverseWorks and Project Row Houses have come together to support art at its source by providing direct grants to artists through The Idea Fund.  Please visit for details on how to apply.


Can people buy videos shown at Aurora Picture Show screenings?


Aurora has a DVD label which includes several artists that are representative of our mission, including Eileen Maxson and Enid Baxter Blader among others, but we do not have the rights to sell videos of the works we have commissioned for screening events.  It is part of our mission to pay our artists, and we only pay a fee for a one-time screening. However, with the permission of the artist, Aurora sometimes has a copy of the program available in our non-circulating library. The videos can be viewed in our office for educational purposes.


What educational opportunities does Aurora Picture Show offer?   


Aurora offers several community education and outreach activities, including Video Salons, Popcorn Kids screenings, our Video Library and other community events.


The Aurora Video Library is an educational tool for all area schools from elementary to university level. If you have a school that would like to visit, please contact us at 713.868.2101.


Our Popcorn Kids series of programming, which includes our summer filmmaking boot camps, are geared toward youth but are also accessible to all ages. This series encourages Media Literacy from a young age and stimulates parent/child interaction.


Aurora also presents video salons and workshops related to media literacy, filmmaking and grant writing to increase media arts appreciation in the community. These include lunch hour education series and occasional Happy Hour Video Hours. If you are interested in attending, please become a member and get early notification or join our newsletter for general notification.


As a reward for our members, we host Members Meet Maker events, which allow our special members to interact and learn from artists and filmmakers that come to Aurora for screenings.


Our internship program also allows us to interact and engage future arts leaders in the community. The Aurora internship program helps university students and aspiring film/art professionals gain hands-on experience to help foster their future careers.


What does Aurora Picture Show’s future look like?

While we continue to strive to maintain our mission and our unique programs that travel all over the city, Aurora is also researching ways to grow our facilities to be able to have a special homebase for some of our programs, including film screenings and education initiatives.  Aurora also looks forward to taking our programs on the road and introducing video art and artist-made works to communities across Houston, including more under-served and low-income areas.

To learn more about Aurora Picture Show make sure you check out their website and their Spacetaker Profile.  I want to thank Rachel Blackney Tepper for answering my questions. And thank you for reading; see you next week for another informative Culture365 Q & A. Best of luck in your life endeavors.



Spacetaker Intern  


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