A first-of-its-kind tax incentive to boost women and minority TV writers and directors has made it through the New York state Legislature. The bill, which received the backing of the DGA and the WGA East, calls for a new tax credit of up to $5 million to be allocated in the state’s next budget to be allocated toward TV shows that employ writers and directors who are women and/or people of color.
To become law, it has to be signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and then appropriated in the state budget.
“People in the TV industry have understood for years that enhancing the diversity of writing and directing improves the stories that appear onscreen,” said WGA East executive director Lowell Peterson. “The missing link for policymakers has been putting money at the point of hire, and this legislation is an important step in that direction.”
Said Neil Dudich, the DGA’s Eastern executive director: “For years the DGA has pushed the industry to change their imbalanced hiring practices so that talent, and talent alone, is the defining factor. By encouraging studios, networks and producers to discover the talented New York TV directors and writers that are out there in abundance, this bill can be a meaningful step forward in establishing a level playing field for all.”
Sponsored by two prominent Latino legislators, state Sen. Marisol Alcantara and Assemblyman Marcos Crespo, the bill set a template for nearly identical legislation that’s pending before the California Legislature.
Last year, the New York State Senate and Assembly successfully passed slightly different versions of the bill, but because New York doesn’t have a reconciliation process, the legislation did not make it to governor’s desk.
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