New York State Breaks Ground With New Entertainment Diversity Training Fund

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With film and TV production booming in New York, the state has implemented a diversity job training development fund aimed at the entertainment industry, calling it the first of its kind in the U.S. 

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said he fund will initially provide $1.05 million per year. It was passed as part of a comprehensive capital spending bill at the end of the state’s legislative session.

Productions participating in the New York State Film Production and Post-Production Tax Credit Programs will see a small reduction in their tax credits. Those dollars will be diverted into a fund for job training and workforce development across the entertainment industry. About $420 million is set aside each year for tax credits of 30% on in-state, below-the-line costs through the programs.

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“New York’s strength is in its diversity, and we are always looking for ways to enhance it,” Cuomo said in the official announcement. “This first-in-the-nation program will provide new resources to propel us toward becoming the most inclusive entertainment industry in the country, while continuing to produce amazing film and TV productions.”

Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul said the fund will “provide workforce development opportunities in the entertainment fields to fill jobs in the growing industry. We are targeting resources to ensure training is available for jobs and to keep moving our economy forward.”

Production has been booming in New York state of late, with New York City becoming a hotbed of TV shoots in particular as the streaming content surge continues.

With demand so strong, officials view the fund as a way to ensure that new jobs related to the growth of the entertainment industry are filled by New Yorkers representing the diverse nature of the state. The legislation charges Empire State Development with creating regulations for the fund and administrating grants to create the program. ESD will solicit input and suggestions from the film industry, educational community and the public to determine the needs of jobs in the industry and ways to give the program the most impact.

This legislation builds upon a novel job training partnership between New York State, Bronx Community College and IATSE Local 52. Announced in October with recruitment beginning in August, the Film Production Training Program at BCC is a new 14-week program. It will train up to 100 students annually for work in union trade crafts such as property, carpentry and electric. New York State awarded BCC a $375,000 grant to cover part of the cost of the two-year program.

“New York’s diversity should shine through in the hiring practices of all industries,” said Empire State Development President, CEO and Commissioner Howard Zemsky. “Today’s announcement will provide over $1 million per year to provide needed job training and workforce development resources to help the state’s entertainment industry continue to lead the way on diversity nationwide.”

NBCUniversal Film & Entertainment Group Chairman Jeff Shell, Chairman noted the company’s commitment to diversity. “We applaud Gov. Cuomo for his leadership on this issue and his administration’s continued attention to fostering diversity in the media industry,” he said.

MPAA CEO Charles Rivkin said the initiative in New York matched the organization’s broader efforts. “Supporting creative professionals from a wide array of backgrounds not only promotes a diverse workforce but also ensures the stories we tell on screen reflect the diversity in our communities and audiences,” he said.

IATSE International Vice President and Local 52 President John Ford said the industry is “busier than ever before” thanks to ongoing support of the state’s tax incentives. “Local 52 is excited for our training program with New York State and Bronx Community College,” he added.”These new programs can help ensure a steady stream of qualified, diverse workers to service the growing needs of production well into the future.”

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