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As I mentioned in my October column, I’m devoting this edition of my President’s Corner to the BEA Festival of Media Arts. This topic couldn’t be more timely as we have just eight days until the submission site opens for the 17th BEA Festival of Media Arts. As a quick recap, the 2017 Festival saw 1,414 entries from over 200 different institutions. Entries from 96 different institutions received recognition.  Institutions leading the pack with multiple awards last year included Arizona State University, the University of Oklahoma, Palm Beach University, Goshen College and Huntington University.  Students form The American University of Cairo and University of Punjab, Pakistan represented international institutions receiving awards.

For those that aren’t familiar with the festival, there are fifteen competitions for faculty (7 competitions) and students (8 competitions). These competitions have traditionally been defined along the lines of BEA Interest Divisions. The faculty competitions are: Audio, Documentary, Interactive Multimedia, Video, Scriptwriting, News, and Sports. Student Competitions are: Audio, Documentary, Interactive Multimedia, Video, Scriptwriting, News, Sports and 2-Year Small Colleges. There are numerous categories within these competitions.

As a part of the festival, numerous awards are presented for outstanding work. The student competition awards are titled by the specific competition. Traditionally, these have included first, second and third place awards, as well as awards of merit as determined by the judging panel. In the faculty competition, there are three award titles: BEA Award of Excellence, the BEA Best of Competition and the BEA Best of Festival. The awards of excellence connotes superior quality works, parallel in idea to the research acceptance for publication in a refereed journal. The “best of competition” awards are selected from within each competitive category by the judges. The “best of festival” awards are selected from among the “best of the competition.” Because the acceptance rate for peer-reviewed work is a critical aspect of creative scholarship, the festival committee is charged with trying to maintain an overall acceptance rate of around twenty-percent for the faculty competition. Since 2012, the overall acceptance rate as hovered in this low twenty-percent range. The Best of Festival (BOF) acceptance rates are generally well below twenty-percent, the average faculty BOF Festival award acceptance rate for 2017 was 4.1%. Faculty and student awards are presented at competition specific award sessions during the annual BEA conference in Las Vegas. The culmination of the competition is the presentation of the 15 student and faculty BOF awards at the BEA Best of Festival King Foundation Awards Ceremony, to be held this year on the evening of Monday, April 9th, 2018.

The BEA Board of Directors and Festival Committee is thankful that the Charles & Lucille King Family Foundation has been our title sponsor from the beginning. It is the generous support of the King Family Foundation that helps BEA operate the Festival and affords us with the opportunity to present $1,000 cash awards to each faculty and student Best of Festival winner. On a personal note, as a past BOF winner I am grateful to the King Foundation for their continued support.

Despite our tremendous success, the Festival Committee is always working to implement improvements. Under the leadership of Festival Committee Chair Sarah Magee, Loyola University Maryland, the committee is exploring several initiatives—increasing international involvement, new categories, a creative award presented in conjunction with BEA’s Diversity & Inclusion Committee—as well as insuring the financial stewardship of the Festival. You’ll be hearing more about these initiatives, and festival related finances in future communications from myself and the Board of Directors.

For now, it’s time to focus on finishing up those creative projects in time to submit them while the submission window of November 15th to December 15th is open. Just today I’ve encouraged two students to think about entering their projects and worked with a colleague on our own faculty entry.  Are you and your students ready to submit to the Festival?