Venice Arts’ Center for Creative Workforce Equity Expands Film + Digital Media Pilot Program in Partnership with Los Angeles County


Last month, Venice Arts’ Center for Creative Workforce Equity (CCWE) celebrated the expansion of its Film + Digital Media Career Pathways pilot project, which was designed in partnership with Economic and Workforce Development of Los Angeles County (EWD) and represents the county’s very first. investment of this magnitude in creative career development for low-income county youth. Venice Arts also held a student graduation event to celebrate the culmination of 160 hours of paid education and training in visual storytelling, production and editing, as well as placing young people in creative sector internships.

Commenting on the partnership, LA County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl said, “LA will maintain our competitive edge in the creative industries by embracing all of our regional diversity. It’s what positions us so well to produce great creative work that appeals to the world. The Film + Digital Media Career Pathways pilot project will strengthen our talent pool by bringing low-income youth into creative careers.

This innovative and groundbreaking creative career equity pilot project pays young people while they learn. “This year, we are able to compensate young, low-income creators for their education and training at Venice Arts. It’s about radically rethinking how we create equity and opportunity,” shares Lynn Warshafsky, Executive Director of Venice Arts. “It reverses the cost-benefit equation of education: instead of debt, income. This allows young people who may be on the economic margins to really engage in learning. A small investment for what we believe will have a significant impact.

Head of Digital Strategy at Illumination Entertainment, one of the industry’s leading producers of animated films, JT Ladt says, “There are many paths in the entertainment industry that don’t require a college education, in fact, this traditional route can actually become a barrier to entry for talent. but marginalized youth. The CCWE has tackled this problem head-on by offering these budding storytellers unique training with some of the best mentors in the industry, while being compensated, which paves the way for their success and much-needed diversification within the industry itself. .”

The pilot programs are designed to support the creative aspirations of young people, while creating a more diverse and inclusive talent pool for the creative sector. They range from creative conversations, which expose young people to a myriad of professionals and careers in the creative sector, to intensive education and training, and paid internships and apprenticeships.

Natasha Sattler, production manager at Ethos post-production studio, notes her admiration for the work of Venice Arts. “Venice Arts has cultivated some of the best young talent in Los Angeles by providing them with opportunities that cross many different aspects of the Los Angeles art world,” says Sattler. “Their eye for emerging talent is impeccable.”

For students, the access and opportunities offered are invaluable. “My parents immigrated from India and our family has no connection to the entertainment industry,” says Amaan Merchant, a recent graduate placed in the United Talent Agency externship program. “I’ve always felt stupid and irresponsible for wanting to get involved in creative projects. My time here at Venice Arts has broadened my view of the world enormously.

For Amber Bolden, whose internship turned into a full-time position, the culture at Venice Arts inspired her to start considering building a media arts/non-profit center in southern Venice. Los Angeles “so that these resources are more accessible to those who don’t have the same advantages that I have,” says Bolden. seeing teenagers experience the joy of discovery, I know their lives will be changed like mine.

Industry involvement and leadership is at the heart of the Venice Arts model. Strategic Partner United Talent Agency (UTA) said, “Since the UTA Foundation launched the ‘Creative Conversations with UTA’ series last year in partnership with CCWE, Venice Arts students have heard from agents and UTA leaders from across the company. about their professional journeys and first-hand experiences in the entertainment industry,” says Desiree Flores, Director of Employee Social Impact for the UTA Foundation. “We are proud to join Venice Arts in its commitment to helping students in greater Los Angeles County gain exposure and access exciting opportunities in the creative space.”

Elyssa Seidman, senior brand strategist at creative agency Liquid Sunshine, recognizes the opportunities the program sets in motion to provide long-term guidance and support to their students. “Venice Arts gives young people exposure to the creative industry and creates opportunities for them to turn their passion into a viable career.”

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Submitted by Colleen O’Mara


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