2022 Grants Challenge

The Center for Creative Workforce Equity (The Center)

Idea by Venice Arts

Grants funds will sustain & expand our new Center for Creative Workforce equity Film & Digital Media (F&DM) program, piloted in 2021 and refined in 2022. In this program, low-income youth of color, current and former foster youth, justice-involved and/or LGBTQ youth receive training in the creative industry skills needed for internships and first jobs. In a radical rethinking of how to build equity and opportunity in the arts and entertainment, young people are supported to fully commit to their education by being compensated while they learn.


What is the primary issue area that your application will impact?

Access to Creative Industry Employment (sponsored by Snap Foundation)

In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

Central LA

East LA

South LA

West LA

County of Los Angeles

City of Los Angeles

In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?

Expand existing project, program, or initiative

What is your understanding of the issue that you are seeking to address?

The creative industry field represents the 2nd largest labor sector in Los Angeles, yet minority representation with the field remains stubbornly and disproportionately low. This disparity distorts representation, silences voices, and leaves far too many talented young people on the outside, looking in. Our new Center supports a growing roster of creative career development programs for highly interest-driven young people who enroll in our programs because sophisticated technology and creative tools, as well as education and training, remain out of their financial reach. Many of our students struggle with economic uncertainty, food insecurity, and pandemic-related grief. A recent Los Angeles Times’ headline sums up their top concerns: “What do L.A. students want most? Mental health help, an adult to listen, reliable tech”. Our programs and teaching pedagogy address all three. To ease the toll of pandemic-related social isolation we returned to in-person learning in July 2020.

Describe the project, program, or initiative this grant will support to address the issue.

The Center’s Film & Digital Media program includes: 1) Creative Conversations Exposes young people to the myriad of creative sector work opportunities, through conversations with professionals in a range of roles—animators, cinematographers, editors, directors, agents, development executives, and more. 2) Storytelling Immersion Allows young people to explore visual storytelling through one-day, intensive and hands-on filmmaking workshops that introduce foundational creative and conceptual knowledge and technical skills. Our goal is to offer these, annually, in each of the County’s 5 districts to help young people identify if work in the creative sector might be a pathway of interest to them. 3) Certificate Programs Intensive, paid education and training that prepares young people for “above the line” opportunities, including decision-making roles that pay a living wage. 4) Internships Placements at large studios, small production and post-production houses, and in adjacent industries, such as advertising. With County dollars, Venice Arts is able to subsidize the first 160 hours of placement, and is working with employer partners to gain their commitment to subsidize the balance of time, and/or to commit to the hire of successful interns. Our goal is to place at least 60% of young people graduating from our Certificate programs; we also consider college-going, work, or other outcomes that help a young person move forward in their lives a success.

Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.

The creative economy, in addressing cultural and equity inclusion concerns, is shifting toward building a more diverse workforce and telling more diverse stories. Our F&DM program prepares young people for workplace success by teaching both hard and soft skills and partnering with employers willing to consider their applications. Overall, we hope to: • Create life-changing opportunities that build equity for LA's low-income youth by providing free access to high-caliber arts and creative youth development programs • Maximize youths’ ability to find the resiliency and resources necessary to thrive, even in the face of personal and/or societal barriers including racism, class marginalization, and/or immigration status • Provide social and emotional support through mentorship and workshop experience • Close the digital divide by teaching arts-based technology skills using state-of-the art equipment • Expand opportunity and uplift new voices with a pipeline of diverse, young talent

What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?

The 1st year of our F&DM pilot (2021) was successful at reaching and engaging some of LA’s talented, but mostly marginalized young people. We enrolled 425 young people, from all 5 of LA County’s districts in Creative Conversations; from 149 applicants we enrolled 31 in Storytelling Immersion and our Video Production & Editing Certificate program; 30 graduated. Of the latter, 22 were placed in creative sector internships. 100% were low-income; 85% BIPOC; over 40% from priority groups (unhoused, foster, justice involved); participants were evenly divided between young men and women, with 14% identifying as non-binary. We have just completed our second round, increasing training hours from 48 to 160 and paying participant stipends. Internship placement has begun and we continue to track 1st round F&DM participants' experiences in the creative workforce. After a highly competitive screening process, participants have been selected for our next cohort to begin training this July.

Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?

Direct Impact: 250

Indirect Impact: 1,500