Pitch your solution.
PROBLEM: The media industry embodies a culture of unpaid internship designed for people who can afford to work for free. This system perpetuates #oscarssowhite and #metoo by ignoring and exploiting talent in the very communities Arts2Work serves: low-income, BIPOC artists, women, youth, and disabled. In the light of BLM, media companies are making commitments to diversity without experience in actually achieving a diverse workforce. The need for equitable training pipelines for emerging creatives has never been greater.
SOLUTION: Arts2Work is the first national workforce model for media careers centered on Registered Apprenticeship. It also includes Equity Labs and employer incentives, one-on-one mentorship, and accelerator funding for alumni.
POSITIVE CHANGE: At scale, the crucial innovation is an accountable, inclusive, industry-wide model that leads to real jobs with advancement opportunities, pathways out of poverty for diverse artists, and a distribution of power and visibility our industry has never seen
What specific problem are you solving?
According to the 2019 UCLA Hollywood Diversity Report, only 1.3 out of 10 film directors are people of color, 1.3 out of 10 are women, less than 1 in 10 film writers are people of color, and of the 250 top-grossing films of 2018, only 4 percent had a woman cinematographer. While there is growing awareness of the barriers to entry for women and BIPOC creatives in the industry, and companies and organizations are making new commitments to diversity in front of and behind the camera – most have little experience or capacity to actually achieve a diverse, inclusive workforce. There is no reason that construction workers can get paid real wages and benefits while they learn on the job, and creative work in the media industry is based on internships designed for those who can afford to work for free. The need for high-quality mentored training for low-income creative workers as well as support for employers in this critical reshaping of the digital media industry has never been greater.
What is your solution?
The barriers to a sustainable creative career can be insurmountable. Responding to systemic inequities reflected in the harsh glare of #oscarssowhite and #metoo movements, The Alliance decided to take on the development of Arts2Work. Arts2Work includes the first federally-registered National Apprenticeship Program in media arts and creative technologies in addition to an online Learning Hub and mentorship community, a pre-apprenticeship pathway, and a series of Advanced Media Labs developed in collaboration with industry partners, including creative small businesses, corporate media, cultural institutions and nonprofit organizations. Arts2Work participants do not need a college degree to be eligible for the program, and they are paid as they train and produce work on projects. After the program, they become part of an Arts2Work alumni network for life. Employers participate in Equity Labs prior to hiring and are eligible to receive subsidies and training grants to defray the real costs of hiring, mentoring and providing on-the-job-training. It is important to think of Arts2Work as more than a jobs program; it is designed as a foundation for culture change in an industry where power is held predominantly by white men, and the contributions of BIPOC artists and women are persistently marginalized, excluded and appropriated.
Who does your solution serve, and in what ways will the solution impact their lives?
The Alliance is a national media arts service nonprofit that has led innovation, networking and advocacy efforts for 40 years. Arts2Work was designed for low-income and BIPOC creatives, women, youth, LGBTQ + disabled and veteran’s communities. We serve emerging media artists; job-seekers looking to access competitive skills, mentorship and networking; community media centers seeking workforce certification pathways and connections to industry; educators seeking technology and digital media production experience; emerging entrepreneurs struggling to get a foot in industry doors that swing open more easily for their white counterparts, and industry companies actively seeking pipelines to diverse producers. To understand their collective needs, we spent over a year designing the program in collaboration with them -- we have access because they are the member organizations, agencies and artists we serve every day. We continue to hold regular Video Roundtables to explore the most urgent issues in creative workforce development, and we host regular working groups with national training centers and employer partners. We must co-create a bold new model for the field that reflects the needs of marginalized workers for access to affordable high-quality training, elevates their agency and power, and sustains the profound global economic impact of their creative work.
Which dimension of the Challenge does your solution most closely address?
Increase access to high-quality, affordable learning, skill-building, and training opportunities for those entering the workforce, transitioning between jobs, or facing unemployment
Explain how the problem, your solution, and your solution’s target population relate to the Reimagining Pathways to Employment in the US Challenge and your selected dimension.
Digital media is now the engine for how we connect, learn, experience culture, and drive economic recovery. Arts2Work is co-created specifically to accelerate job growth and support BIPOC artists and technologists who receive a fraction of the opportunity and funding as their white counterparts. As we provide access to cutting-edge training, we also require that employers participate in Equity Labs, learning to create the conditions where BIPOC staff can advance and thrive. Arts2Work is more than a jobs program; it is one approach to repairing a broken system that has prevented BIPOC creatives from their rightful stake leading the industry.
In what city, town, or region is your solution team headquartered?Atlanta, GA, USA
In which US state(s) will you be operating within the next year?
What is your solution’s stage of development?
Pilot: An organization deploying a tested product, service, or business model in at least one community
Who is the team lead for your solution?
Wendy Levy, The Alliance for Media Arts + Culture
How many people work on your solution team?
Fulltime Staff 1
P/T Staff (Contractors) 4
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: What is your approach to building a diverse, equitable, and inclusive organization?
As part of our core work, the Alliance researches and shares both emerging and best practices for building inclusive, equitable and diverse creative organizations. We try to model those practices in our work: we create new programs with the communities those programs are designed to serve, and we convene the field in broad and inclusive conversations, prioritizing the voices of those with lived experience over traditional “experts.” The staff members of our Arts2Work program are BIPOC creative leaders, and our Innovation Culture Studio program raises funds to support initiatives led by BIPOC artists, archivists, technologists and scholars. 100% of our COVID grant funding this year went to support BIPOC-led organizations and artists. Beyond the data is a story rooted in the principle of tikkun olam, or healing/repairing the world. How we do our work, and who we are as an organization, must reflect the vision of the future we hold.
Which of the following categories best describes your solution?
A new business model or process
Describe what makes your solution innovative.
After our first phone call to the US Department of Labor, we knew that we were embarking on an innovative, paradigm-shifting journey. There were no federally-registered Apprenticeship programs in our sector, and therefore no possibility for creative workers to participate or be validated in the federal workforce development system. This was our opportunity to innovate. From that moment, we started acting like a National Program Sponsor on behalf of our thousands of members who deserved the same leg up as plumbers and construction workers who can get paid to learn on the job and whose employers can receive subsidies and grants to defray the cost of training. We knew we had to make a business case for Apprenticeship, showing US media companies how their counterparts have leveraged apprenticeship for a positive return on investment. No Registered Apprenticeship program has ever been available for creative Multimedia Producers, Creative Technologists, Editors, Game Designers, or Digital Archivists. No Apprenticeship program has ever required Training Labs in equity/inclusion for employers, while they are supporting a new pipeline of diverse creative workers. As Ava Duvernay has said: “Hollywood is a reflection of power structures in our country and we still have much work to do in order to ensure we see the kind of real change that creates a better reality for our people both in and out of the industry. This is the “new dimension of performance” that informs our innovative approaches.
Describe the core technology, if applicable, that powers your solution.
Provide evidence that this technology works.
Please select the technologies currently used in your solution:
What is your theory of change?
In our national study led by the Raben Group in 2017, it was reported that the arts sector in the US contributed $166.4 billion in economic activity, supported by 4.6million jobs and generating 27.5billion in revenue to local, state and federal governments. Artists and arts organizations contribute not only to the economy, but also to community vitality and resilience, improved educational outcomes, innovation in business, and cultural identity. Because much of the arts sector is comprised of bootstrapped nonproﬁts and freelancers in the gig economy, it is not recognized as an economic powerhouse, and workplace development needs and opportunities are marginalized or completely ignored. As a result, artists and arts organizations are eﬀectively — if not intentionally — excluded from local, state, and federal programs that support small business, youth employment, apprenticeships, and professional development. We needed to change this.
Our theory of change is based on the idea that a vibrant, equitable, diverse arts and creative tech sector is a major contributor to a thriving economy and vital communities. Arts2Work will ensure that subsidized, high-quality apprenticeship and professional development programs are available in digital media arts and creative technologies, as they are in many other ﬁelds from telecommunications to construction to advanced manufacturing.
Creativity, access, and opportunity are core values that inform the activities of Arts2Work. Our impact strategy includes deepening partnerships with high-impact social entrepreneurs, media employers and community organizations and seeding a global network of Arts2Work Creative Studios to offer free training to low-income, unemployed creative producers traditionally marginalized in the industry. Through this initiative, we provide the technology, tools, curricula, mentor training and access to certified instruction designed to embed creativity of all kinds into the culture of work, nurture an inter-generational leadership model, and create vibrant, sustainable new connections to local and regional employers.
Select the key characteristics of your target population.
How many people does your solution currently serve? How many people did your solution serve in 2019? 2018? 2017?
We launched our program in 2020, serving 45 people in 4 programs across the country, including Apprentices, Employers, Pre-Apprentices, Mentors, Partners and Staff. We plan to exponentially scale these numbers in 2021 thanks to funding from the Arthur Blank Foundation, Epic Games, and National Endowment for the Arts.
What percent of the people you served in 2019 were between the age of 15 and 30?
What are your goals within the next year and within the next five years?
Short term goals include:
· Increased investment in Arts2Work; national program brings in $5million dollars a year, Accelerator Fund grows to $1million
· Increased numbers of Media Employers (250) committed to Apprenticeship and Diversity/Inclusion as an ongoing practice, hiring continues in multiple cities
· Increased numbers of Apprentices (250) in diverse job categories advancing professionally across regions and markets
We share the vision for Arts2Work to have a transformational impact on millions of lives. We plan to scale this program through cross-sector pilot programs in over a dozen cities, towns, rural areas and native territories. We plan to lobby state legislatures and Departments of Commerce to include Arts2Work line items as digital workforce development partners statewide. We plan to join with corporate partners who with one policy shift, can seed an entire new generation of creative workers previously excluded from opportunity. We see a world where all creative workers have equal access to living wage careers and diverse representation is status quo in the media arts professions; where young people have equal access to creative media experiences and training as creative producers throughout their lives; where sustainable creative career pathways are readily available for underrepresented and non-college-bound creative workers; where systemic poverty and unemployment among creative workers is alleviated; where thriving creative businesses, organizations and institutions are led by diverse executive teams and staffs who began their careers as Apprentices; and where the culture of Apprenticeship is embedded across arts disciplines in the United States and around the world
What barriers currently exist for you to accomplish your goals in the next year and in the next five years?
Recent research from the Upjohn Institute for Employment Research affirms our experience developing Arts2Work: helping communities attain and retain good jobs requires addressing a range of persistent economic and social barriers, including reliable and affordable transportation, access to child care, basic financial services and access to resources that connect disadvantaged workers with employers. No matter what attempts we make in the next year to overcome these barriers, managing the economic uncertainties stemming from COVID is only part of the problem. Systemic racism and sexism are the barriers we will confront on a daily basis. Most sectors have shown significant job loss over the last half-year at rates consistent with a serious downturn. No matter how compelling a rationale we provide, the costs of a new hire are real, the immediate benefits are uncertain. An equitable, inclusive workplace is not a quick fix. Large companies like Disney are laying off tens of thousands. How can we rely on small companies to pick up the slack? When employers start hiring again, many will be facing a need to scale up quickly and will resist the idea of new hires, on-the-job-training and mentorship for diverse employees. Over the next five years, the “new tech” barrier might be an additional hurdle. The creative technology that powers digital media production and post-production is consistently subject to innovation. Keeping up with that technology and making sure next generation workers are equipped with competitive creative workplace skills will require continued partnership cultivation in an industry in flux.
How do you plan to overcome these barriers?
Overcoming these barriers, individually and collectively, will rely on a sustainable partnership ecosystem we have already begun to establish. We could not think about parachuting into certified media training for in-demand career pathways that have previously required a college degree, connections and access to financing – without leveling the playing field and helping build responsive relationships between employers and diverse jobseekers. We have begun development of an Online Learning Hub that aggregates the best free media industry training for emerging creatives – where each course is “endorsed” by an employer who gets first look at the creative portfolios of our community of self-guided learners and provides opportunities for mentorship. For transactional needs like reliable and affordable transportation, access to child care and basic financial services, we are at the table with State Workforce Boards across the country to leverage WIOA and other federal funding streams, as well as organizations like United Way, JVS and Youthbuild USA to support scaling these essential services at a national level. With barriers related to technology, new and innovative relationships with the companies that make relevant software and hardware are crucial. We have recently received $200,000 in funding from Epic Megagrants – not to support Arts2Work directly, but to fund the development of the Brown Girls Mythic + True Story Gallery, a new kind of immersive, interactive virtual museum powered by Unreal Engine – where BIPOC women creative technologists can learn one of the most in-demand gaming and 3D cinema platforms in the world.
What outcomes data would you like to be collecting that you are not yet able to collect?
As we work to hone a data strategy that adequately reflects an authentic approach to our impact, we are keenly aware that we need to separate from traditional workforce models that track impact by number of trainees, number of trainees working after 6 months, dollars earned per hour, and acquisition of goods to monitor pathways out of poverty. We are developing a plan that we can pursue in partnership with The Center for Critical Race + Digital Studies at NYU to help us think with communities of current and future digital technology designers, developers, data scientists, content producers and researchers working in industry, government and academia -- about race and culturally conscious design, data collection and use, and technology transfer and implementation practices in and with respect to underrepresented communities. Within these categories are the datasets that will reveal the depth and resilience of true culture shift.
What type of organization is your solution team?
If you selected Other, please explain here.
How many people are on your leadership team? (Of these, please provide the number of individuals from your leadership team that are full time, part time, and volunteer)
1 full-time, 4 part-time
What is the number of individuals from my leadership team that attended community college for at least one year?
What is the number of individuals from my leadership team that received a Pell grant as a college student?
In what year was your organization founded? How many years have you worked on your solution?
The Alliance for Media Arts + Culture was founded in 1980. The Alliance has been working on this solution since 2016, when I joined the team as Executive Director.
Why are you and your team well-positioned to deliver this solution?
The Alliance has been a leading media industry organization since 1980, and the organizations in our network have been training and providing internships for diverse, low-income youth in creative media careers for forty years – without the benefit of registered Apprenticeship or federal workforce funding. The Alliance has strong relationships with government agencies, media companies, school districts, workforce boards, and diverse local, regional and national employers Our Senior Consultant for Learning and Innovation Shawn Jackson is also a Director of Technology at KIPP Academy. Our Senior Advisor for Partnerships, Christina Orticke, leads Catapult Growth Partners in DC, a consulting organization that supports clients to accelerate rgrowth and maximize enterprise value. Ajani Amiri, a recent alumni from Howard University has been with Arts2Work since its inception, supporting program development and now leading employer recruitment.
Wendy Levy, the Executive Director of The Alliance for Media Arts + Culture, is the former Director of the Bay Area Video Coalition (BAVC). During Wendy’s tenure at BAVC, she developed and managed the largest industry digital media training program in Northern California, funded by the California Employment Training Panel (ETP), a large-scale training program for middle- and high-skilled incumbent workers. Wendy’s leadership guided BAVC to scale ETP capacity to train thousands of workers. To date, ETP has received over $1.4 million from the State of California and has provided training for nearly 20 years. At BAVC, Wendy was responsible for securing partnerships with renowned media industry employers such as Pixar, Lucas, and DreamWorks..
What organizations do you currently partner with, if any? How are you working with them?
Our Partner Network is diverse and multi-sector. At policy levels, we have been working with Jobs for the Future (JFF), the New America Partnership to Advance Youth Apprenticeship (PAYA), and NORC at the University of Chicago. We are part of working groups, national conversations and convenings designed to grow Apprenticeship in the US. We prioritize equity and inclusion as we elevate non-traditional fields like media arts into workforce development communities.
Our Arts2Work Training Centers provide local training programs, online courses and curriculum development aligned with Arts2Work: re:imagine/ATL, Ghetto Film School, Wide Angle Media, PhillyCAM, Austin Public, Venice Arts, Better Youth, Bay Area Video Coalition, Portland Open Signal, cxmunnity, Youth FX and Sundance Collab. Our post-secondary Education Partners so far include Georgia State University, West LA College, City University of New York and Community College of San Francisco. We rely on our community colleges to provide articulation agreements with community media centers, pipelines of diverse participants who have the required introductory skills, and access to DOE and DOL funding that require community colleges as lead applicants.
Our corporate partners include Adobe and Epic Games, supporting software, train-the-trainer programs, and cash grants. Our early-adopter employer partners include Coffee Bluff Pictures, WHYY, Level Forward, Wide Angle Media, KSPS, seven2, and KPBX. These companies have provided on-the-job learning experiences for Pre-Apprentices, or are hiring and mentoring an Apprentice.
Our funding partners so far include MacArthur Foundation, Arthur M. Blank Foundation, Snap Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts.
What is your business model?
For arts + technology organizations, The Alliance/Arts2Work provides new capacity to access federal workforce funding, to receive free, state-of-the-art software and hardware for their media centers, to be included in local and regional workforce planning, and to build more robust partnerships with local employers to better serve the emerging creative workers in their communities.
For employers, we also provide access to cash incentives, training grants, and tax subsidies that have never before been available in this sector. We also provide access to a new pipeline of talented and diverse emerging creatives -- who are skilled and ready for work. We also provide mentorship training and Equity Labs for employers to enable them to create the conditions in their workplace where new staff can advance and thrive.
We provide these services through a consulting framework, leading the activation of local pilot programs. Because Arts2Work represents a huge culture shift in the media industry, our cost structure in this early phase is that we raise all the funding through corporate, foundation and government grants. We disburse funding to partners to cover training costs. We have set-up an Arts2Work Accelerator Fund, to be supported by corporate and civic investments -- where our program alumni can apply for grants or program-related investments for their creative businesses and social entrepreneurships. As an additional revenue model, The Alliance will eventually offer Arts2Work licenses to training centers, community colleges, employers and arts + culture institutions for the right to operate Arts2Work in their cities and states.
Do you primarily provide products or services directly to individuals, or to other organizations?
What is your path to financial sustainability?
As a 40-year old national arts service organization, The Alliance for Media Arts + Culture has relied primarily on foundation and government grant funding and membership dues revenue during its lifetime. With a leadership change in 2015, we began exploring creative workforce development as an integrated social enterprise business model. The decision was made to launch Arts2Work as a core program of The Alliance, so that we could extend the support and deepen the impact of our current funders general operating investments, and leverage our expertise, partnerships and longevity as a field leader to bolster our proposals to a new set of workforce-focused stakeholders. This year alone, we raised over 1.5million dollars in Arts2Work-related funding. Because of the vision and promise of Arts2Work, we attracted new corporate funding partners Adobe and Epic Games and are in conversation with many more potential corporate and industry partners. Their investments in the development of Arts2Work will eventually become part of the Arts2Work Accelerator Fund, but right now, reside in our general operating budget, covering both program and operating expenses. In the long term, we anticipate reducing expenses by transferring operational management to our national training center partners and licensing them the Arts2Work program, web tools and curriculum guidelines. Additional revenue streams for program innovation and scale will be sourced from RFPs from US Department of Labor, US Department of Education, National Science Foundation, US Office of Postsecondary Education, State Departments of Commerce + Education and State Workforce Boards.
If you have raised funds for your solution or are generating revenue, please provide details.
Blank Foundation 900,000
MacArthur Foundation $275,000
Epic Megagrants $200,000
Snap Foundation 75,000
National Endowment for the Arts 80,000
If you seek to raise funds for your solution, please provide details.
We are seeking to raise 10 million dollars over the next 3-5 years to support the development and strategic growth of Arts2Work through a combination of federal government and foundation grants, line item state workforce funding, diverse investments in the Arts2Work Accelerator Fund and program license agreements. For the first time, because of Arts2Work, the creative media industries are now eligible for federal workforce grants and Registered Apprenticeship funding. These dollars flow through a variety of RFPs, often between 1 and 10million dollars, including H1B One Workforce, Apprenticeship Expansion, Women in Non-Traditional Occupations (WANTO), National Science Foundation, and others.
What are your estimated expenses for 2021?
STAFF + PROGRAM
Executive Director 50% 50,000
Philadelphia Pre-Apprenticeship $15,000
Baltimore Employer Cultivation $5,000
Atlanta Pre-Apprenticeship $100,000
Atlanta Employer Training Grants $100,000
LA Arts2Work Edit Lab Planning + Execution $75,000
CUNY Arts2Work Mentor Lab Program 75,000
Employer Equity Labs - 25,000
Mentor Honorariums for Innovation projects $10,000
Brown Girls Story Gallery VR Production phase 2 $75,000
Government Grants Consultant + Writing $40,000
Arts2Work Online Learning Hub Manager $25,000
Content Producer - Web + Social $20,000
Youth Media Collective Impact Network Producer $25,000
Producer, Membership/Communications $25,000
Web Designer, Arts2Work + Creative Impact Network $35,000
Graphic Design $10,000
Virtual Event Production $8,000
Research and Evaluation, Arts2Work $50,000
Senior Consultant Learning + Innovation $20,000
Sub Total Staff + Program 793,000
Salesforce Customization $15,000
Cloud Fees & Upgrades $1,500
IT Services $2,000
Accounting/Audit Review $30,000
Postage and Shipping $250
Office supplies (incl. 6 headsets) $3,500
Non-Capital office equipment $500
Taxes & Licenses $500
Sub-total Administration 66,250.
TOTAL ARTS2WORK 859,250
Why are you applying to the Reimagining Pathways to Employment in the US Challenge?
We are applying to the Challenge for many reasons: access to business expertise for our growth phase, funding for a program designed specifically to benefit BIPOC communities, and national awareness-raising around arts + jobs. After 35 years in the Bay Area, The Alliance is now relocated to Spokane, WA. While we are a distributed organization with consulting program staff working remotely, we have come to understand the barriers faced by creative workers and companies in non-coastal regions, small cities that are “off the grid,” Native American communities, and other geographies where digital media is not even considered a valid career pathway despite high salaries and high demand. Making the business case for Apprenticeship has been a central focus for us for a number of years now – and it is a challenge to integrate that narrative with our vision for equity and inclusion that is our true north. With this opportunity, it feels like we can find much-needed support in collaboration New Profit and Morgridge Family Foundation managing the transactional economic barriers and technological divides for our participants, fearlessly examining our own business model, as well as facing head-on the cultural divides systemic racism and sexism work tirelessly to keep in place. We would relish the prospect of becoming a case study for Inclusive Impact and to find some visionary support reimagining a broken US workforce system as a model of innovation that includes equity and creativity at its core.
In which of the following areas do you most need partners or support?
Please explain in more detail here.
We are interested in developing a set of responsive partnerships that support Arts2Work program growth, strategy and vision – while providing our partners access to an extraordinary creative community not usually represented in workforce development circles. We have found that arts-focused funders do not really understand, or value workforce development initiatives -- and workforce funders have not considered the arts and creative technology as priority career pathways. We also hope to receive some mentorship from experts who have supported nonprofits opening for-profit subsidiaries, and other models that could be relevant to us. We need partners who can help us examine pragmatic strategies for engaging employers to reject unpaid internship culture for a new way of working, adopting a new paradigm for the future of creative work. And we need partners who can help us find authentic ways to access government funding and measure success without commodifying and dehumanizing our communities.
What organizations would you like to partner with, and how would you like to partner with them?
NYU Center for Critical Race + Digital Studies – CR + DS produces cutting edge research that illuminates the ways that race, ethnicity and identity shape and are shaped by digital technologies. We would like for them to support research and the development of sustainable learning and evaluation models
Designing Justice + Designing Spaces – We’d like to partner with Designing Justice because of our satellite Arts2Work program Unlocking Creativity – developing Arts2Work access and special projects for incarcerated and formerly incarcerated youth.
Acumen Fund – Acumen has been working to bridge gaps between the efficiency and scale of market-based approaches to poverty alleviation and supporting entrepreneurs bringing sustainable solutions. I love that they see investing as a means, not an end, and I think they could help us break through the bureaucracy
National Governors Association – I want all the governors competing for who will be the first ‘Arts2Work” state. Seriously, It would be great to get some strategic support on Arts2Work legislative pathways at the state level.
Howard University School of Business – We built this program with a group of senior film students at Howard. I would love to present the program to some of the faculty and students at the Business School to get their input on what we are doing - perhaps have our challenges become a case study.