City of Toronto and partners announce expansion of screen industry workforce development training programs 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.
  • Connect productions and the industry to new talent from diverse community programs and through industry partners BIPOC TV&FILM’s website here, Opens in new window Reelworld’s website here Opens in new window  and ACTRA’s diversity website here Opens in new window

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.

Spotlight on Toronto: A Strategic Action Plan for the Film, Television and Digital Media Industry Is available here PDF

More information about the City’s Film Office is available here

Quotes:

“With the support of the Province of Ontario’s Skills Development Fund and invaluable new analysis of the Toronto screen industry’s labour needs and systemic barriers, the City and our partners are ideally equipped to deliver scaled-up, evidence-based workforce development programs that will have real impact for both the industry and Toronto’s Black, Indigenous and people of colour youth. With today’s announcement we are even better prepared to embrace a better and stronger future for Toronto’s screen industry with a workforce diversified in its skills, age and cultural backgrounds.”

– Mayor John Tory

“We are committed to working with our industry partners to develop and ensure that Toronto’s screen industry workforce reflects Toronto’s diversity, so that we can attract and tell both local and global stories.”

– Councillor Paula Fletcher (Toronto Danforth), Chair of the Film, Television and Digital Media Advisory Board

“Toronto’s $2 billion per year film, television and digital media sector is a significant contributor to our economy, employing more than 35,000 people and playing a leading role in Toronto’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. Our expanded toolbox of workforce development initiatives will enable more of Toronto’s diverse communities to share in the economic benefits of our thriving screen industries.”

– Deputy Mayor Michael Thompson (Scarborough Centre) Chair of the City’s Economic and Community Development Committee

“We’re giving people the opportunity to turn their passion into paycheques. Far too often, people face barriers when trying to break into the film and television industry. This investment gives them the hand up they need to start these amazing careers that are waiting for them in media and entertainment.”

Monte McNaughton, Ontario’s Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development

“Given the proven success of our partnership with xoTO Screen Industry Pathways on the POV PA program, DGC Ontario is thrilled to continue our collaborative efforts with xoTO through the development of new initiatives for our Art, Accounting and Post Production Departments, enhancing our industry’s workforce and breaking down barriers for underrepresented communities to gain increased access to careers in the screen-based industries.”

– Victoria Harding, Executive Director, DGC Ontario

“The IATSE Local 873 is very pleased to be partnering with the City of Toronto and CEE for the xoTO Screen Industry Pathways: CEE Entertainment Trades Program, which will enable participants to acquire the necessary skills required to begin their careers in the film and television industry and enhance the collective talent of our membership.”

– Angela Mastronardi, President IATSE 873

“NABET 700-M UNIFOR is excited about the creation of a new workforce development initiative in partnership with the City of Toronto’s xoTO Screen Industry Pathways for the CEE Entertainment Trades Program. This program is designed to provide participants with access to recommended certification training to develop industry-specific skills, as well as offer a paid placement opportunity to gain hands-on experience working along-side our skilled technicians on set. NABET 700-M UNIFOR is dedicated to creating opportunities for growth and development and strives to increase the representation and visibility of BIPOC technicians within our membership.”

– Peggy Kyriakidou, President, NABET 700-M UNIFOR

“This is a historic moment for our members and those who will be going through the program. We are really proud of the partnership with IASTE and NABET and acknowledge what industry endorsement means for a program like this. It is a first of its kind in Canada and it is going to create a talent pool of young Black professionals in the industry.”

– Agapi Gessesse, Executive Director, CEE Centre for Young Black Professionals

“Miziwe Biik is thrilled to join the City of Toronto’s xoTO Screen Industry Pathways initiatives to help train and bring talented indigenous participants into Toronto’s fast-growing film industry.”

– Nancy Martin, Executive Director, Miziwe Biik

“The partnership between POV, the City of Toronto and the DGC Ontario is a powerful example of how collaboration between the community, industry and government can create meaningful employment for diverse Torontonians. After successful pilots and the joint release of a research report with the Film Office, POV is thrilled to begin scaling up the PA program to even more communities.”

– Biju Pappachan, Executive Director, POV

“The Remix Project is excited at the opportunity to work closely with the City of Toronto and industry leading partners like the Directors Guild of Canada-Ontario  to help build meaningful career paths for talented students who typically face barriers to industry.”

– Bryan Brock, Director, Creative Arts Program, The Remix Project

The Directors Guild of Canada-Ontario is a provincial labour organization representing more than 2,600 key creative and logistical personnel working in the screen-based industries in the areas of direction, assistant direction, design, production management, locations, accounting and editing.

The IATSE Local 873 is the largest entertainment technicians union in Toronto and one of the largest in North America, representing over 4,500 members in the departments of construction, costume, craftservice, lighting, grip, hair, make-up, props, set decoration, greens, scenic, script supervisor, sound mixer, boom, special effects and transportation.

NABET 700-M UNIFOR represents almost 2,500 film, television and new media technicians in the province of Ontario in the categories of Continuity, Construction, Costume, Grip, Hair, Make-up, Labour, Lighting, Paint, Props, Set Decoration, Sound, Special Effects and Transportation.

The CEE Centre for Young Black Professionals (CEE) is a charity dedicated to workforce development, education and professional capacity for Black young adults 18 years of age and over. CEE is committed to cultivating a talent pool of Young Black Professionals that can benefit the Canadian labour market. They offer programs that are holistic, person-centred and culturally relevant. Unique from other career development programs, CEE offers youth exposure, experience, system navigation, and wrap-around social supports, so that they can transform their lives and grab a hold of opportunities that would not have otherwise been tangible.

Miziwe Biik Aboriginal Employment and Training was created in 1991 to meet the unique training and employment needs of aboriginal peoples. Miziwe Biik provides the Greater Toronto Area’s Aboriginal community with training initiatives and employment services.

POV believes that the creative possibilities of the content production industries hinge on a wider and more inclusive talent pool. Since 2007, we have been levelling the field for talented, untapped youth from across the GTA through training and mentorship opportunities, and by catalyzing sustainable collaborations that lead to meaningful careers in content production. POV’s industry-led programming combines hands-on-technical training, one-to-one mentorship opportunities, and social skills development to prepare the next generation of diverse creatives to enter the workforce.

The Remix Project is a multidisciplinary arts training organization, devoted to strengthening the creative community by supporting the next generation of industry leaders. Focused on each student’s personal and professional development, the charity was created to help level the playing field for talented youth who face barriers in pursuing careers in arts and entertainment.

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