Film Careers for diverse youth
Today, Mayor John Tory and program partners announced the expansion of screen industry education and training programs for under-represented communities, targeting participants who are Black, Indigenous and people of colour. These programs aim to increase and diversify the industry’s workforce, to respond to expanding infrastructure needs and market demand for global storytelling. The City of Toronto has received an $800,000 provincial grant to scale up its xoTO Screen Industry Pathways activities. The funding will serve to directly train more than 200 participants who are Black, Indigenous and people of colour in the coming year. This major boost in resources will contribute to an overall investment of $1.3 million by the City in one year for screen industry workforce development activities through the City’s Film Office and Toronto Employment and Social Services. The project is funded in part by the Governments of Canada and Government of Ontario. Mayor Tory was joined by Deputy Mayor Michael Thompson (Scarborough Centre), Chair of the City’s Economic and Community Development Committee; Councillor Paula Fletcher (Toronto-Danforth), Chair of the City’s Film, Television and Digital Media Advisory Board; and industry partners, including IATSE Local 873, the Directors Guild of Canada-Ontario, NABET 700-M UNIFOR, MPA-Canada, Sheridan SIRT Centre, CEE Centre for Young Black Professionals, Miziwe Biik, POV, OYA Media and The Remix Project. The City’s xoTO Screen Industry Pathways initiatives have been created in direct response to the City’s Spotlight on Toronto: A Strategic Action Plan for the Film, Television and Digital Media Industry report and its emphasis on growing Toronto’s screen industry workforce and aim to make it more inclusive and representative of Toronto’s racial and ethnic diversity. The initiatives educate Torontonians about careers in the sector, fund and co-design training programs to bring Black, Indigenous and people of colour into screen industry careers, and help production and post-production companies tap into diverse talent more directly. Studio space in Toronto is projected to grow by 63 per cent over the next five years, creating an urgent need for workforce to meet this demand. The City’s Film Office commissioned the Toronto Screen Industry Workforce Study, which benchmarks workforce growth to increasing studio space. These programs were developed in response to the study’s results. In addition, the Film Office and United Way Greater Toronto supported the study Breaking into Toronto’s Film and TV Production Sector to explore systemic and other barriers to employment access in the sector. The study was conducted by Quilin for POV, with the support of the United Way Greater Toronto. Its findings also inform the program design and intent. The following new and expanded programs will be offered in 2021 and 2022 and have been created in consultation with industry and community groups, to address labour gaps and employment opportunities: Launch of the Entertainment Trades Training Program with CEE Centre for Young Black Professionals and industry partners IATSE Local 873, NABET 700-M UNIFOR and the Motion Picture Association-Canada, concentrating on construction, grip, electric and set decoration. Launch of a production accounting training program with CEE and funder Tik-Tok and industry partner the Directors Guild of Canada-Ontario and Entertainment Partners. Expansion of the production assistant training program presented with POV, CEE and the Directors Guild of Canada-Ontario to include a cohort of Indigenous participants with program partners Miziwe Biik. Additional industry-led training expanded to more not-for-profit community groups such as OYA Media Group, ArtworksTO and The Remix Project, provided by the Directors Guild of Canada – Ontario and the Sheridan Screen Industries Research and Training Centre. Launch of a Film Careers Toolkit later this season, available on the City’s website, with information about roles in film and television production, visual effects (VFX) and animation, entry points into the industry, training opportunities and industry resource hubs. Increase the number of participants in xoTO Schools with the Toronto District School Board to present online workshops and career talks to more than 1,000 students, with lead program partner NABET 700-M UNIFOR and industry co-presenters. In 2019, the film, television and digital media sector contributed $2.2 billion to Toronto’s economy and employed more than 35,000 people. The industry has been a driver of economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite a temporary slow-down as the industry adapted to COVID-19 regulations, the industry’s robust health and safety guidelines have allowed it to bounce back quickly and have shown it to be safe, reliable and ready for record-breaking employment and economic impacts in 2021 and beyond.