With each passing day, our society becomes more and more digital. As this trend continues, the need for skilled labor & diversity, equity, and inclusion in the digital media industry grows with it. Leading this charge is the Alliance for Media Arts + Culture. Founded by a group of media arts leaders 42 years ago, their mission is to build equity, opportunity, and cultural impact for media artists and organizations in the United States and around the world.
This month we had the pleasure of talking with their Executive Director, Wendy Levy, and Arts2Work Operations Manager, Sonia Dowuona, about the Arts2Work Apprenticeship Program and the direction their program is heading.
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For many years, the media industry has been grappling with rampant racism, sexism, lack of sustainability for independent filmmakers, and lack of access to opportunity and advancement in the field. To address these challenges, The Alliance decided to focus on workforce development and created a new national initiative that includes the first federally-registered Apprenticeship program in the digital media field, Arts2Work.
The goal of this program is to change the system and create a space where traditionally excluded minorities would have access as well as a pathway into the media industry. The introduction of the program marked the very first federally-registered apprenticeship program in media arts and creative technologies. Currently, Arts2Work-affiliated Apprenticeship and Pre-Apprenticeship programs have been piloted in Albany, Baltimore, Atlanta, Miami, Dallas, Los Angeles, and Philadelphia. New programs are in development in Oakland, Colorado Springs, and Charlotte.
The first step for any potential apprentice would be to apply through the Arts2Work online application where they would then be set up for an introductory interview, and subsequent interviews with a pre-apprenticeship training center or a registered apprenticeship employer. If an Arts2Work Apprentice is hired by an affiliated employer, the position includes 2000 hours of on-the-job training and mentorship as well as 144 hours of related technical instruction for careers as Multimedia Producers, Digital Video Editors, and Graphic Designers. Arts2Work also has additional career pathways in development for future programs.
When describing their program Executive Director Wendy Levy described the curriculum to be hybrid in nature allowing for a real combination of creative and technical skills as she went on to say,
“Our curriculum and competencies try to reflect the hybrid nature of creative, technical, and social-emotional leadership skills. You know, can they look someone in the eye in an interview, can they really tell the story of this film they are pitching. Can they do it clearly? Are they a good collaborator? And ApprentiScope helps us assess how they are doing.”
Wendy Levy, Executive Director at The Alliance for Media Arts + Culture
The Arts2Work program currently offers two different tracks in their apprenticeship with one being a pathway to becoming a Multimedia Producer and the other providing an opportunity to become a Digital Video Editor. Within these programs, each apprentice will learn the processes of both pre-production and post-production for all types of media as well as the art of editing and storytelling.
Each apprentice will also have the chance to be paired with a local non-profit organization where they will have the opportunity to work on video content for that organization which they can then use to distribute to their audience through channels like social media. The initial program spans a one-year period and upon graduation, each apprentice will leave with an adobe certification plus an Arts2Work completion certification.
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When asked about their future goals and aspirations for their program, Wendy and Sonia described a world where their Arts2Work program has reached a point where it represents a line item on every state's budget carving out a space for Arts2Work to be sustainable past its initial grant years. They also hope that Arts2Works infrastructure becomes a part of HR departments across the country. With the way the world is moving, essentially every company has to become a digital media company. Arts2Work is providing new workforce pathways for media artists, creative producers, technologists, filmmakers, video and audio producers, visual journalists, arts educators, game, interactive and graphic designers, and digital archivists filling those digital media positions many companies are desperately searching for.
Closing out our interview we posed one last question to our interviewees. While working towards their goals and aspirations for this program in what ways are you taking advantage of ApprentiScope to help reach these goals?
Sonia responded with,
“Data is king, everybody wants to see data. Data is your proof of existence and it's very important that we have these kinds of softwares to be able to gather that kind of data and show the world what we are doing and what we are accomplishing in our successes. ApprentiScope is definitely helping us achieve those goals.”
Sonia Dowuona, Operations Manager at Arts2Work