Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen and the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment (MOME) Acting Commissioner Anne del Castillo today announced the first round of grant recipients of the “Made in NY” Women’s Film, TV & Theatre Fund. Funds were awarded to 63 film, TV, theatre and digital media projects made by creative entrepreneurs who identify as women. This is the first round of a $5 million, three-year program funded by MOME and administered by New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA).
The Fund is part of the City’s women.nyc initiative, which helps women succeed by connecting them with resources and tools, including free expert legal advice, financial assistance, networking and mentorship opportunities.
“Today, exceptional women creators, directors, and producers are still not getting the recognition and professional success they deserve.” said Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen. “As a leading entertainment capital, New York City is no longer willing to accept this status quo. With our groundbreaking Women’s Fund for Film & Theatre, more women will be able to fund their creative ventures and secure the resources they need to see their work on the big screen or stage. We are proud to close the industry’s opportunity gap and open doors for women of all backgrounds.”
The Women’s Film, TV and Theatre Fund is the centerpiece of a groundbreaking series of initiatives by MOME to address the underrepresentation of women in film, television, and theatre. These initiatives are unique, making New York the first city in the country to launch a multi-faceted program to help female-identified creatives in film, TV and theatre.
“By making significant investments in women-led projects, the Women’s Fund seeks to increase the pipeline of female-identified creatives in front of and behind the camera, and on stage,” said Media and Entertainment Acting Commissioner Anne del Castillo. “The 63 projects receiving this first round of grants portray the complexity and variety of human experience as told by an incredibly diverse group of women. This milestone affirms New York City’s commitment to advancing diversity and inclusion in the entertainment industry.”
A total of 544 applications were received and evaluated by esteemed panels of industry experts. Projects in the following categories were awarded finishing grants:
- 14 Theatre Productions – each received up to $50,000
- 11 Documentary Features – each received up to $50,000
- 4 Fiction Features – each received up to $50,000
- 10 Fiction Short – each received up to $25,000
- 9 Documentary Shorts – each received up to $25,000
- 9 Fiction Webisode/Webseries – each received up to $20,000
- 6 Documentary Webisodes/Webseries – each received up to $20,000
The projects selected for funding explore a broad range of topics. A documentary feature follows 40 Central American women who make an annual journey to search for children who went missing while crossing the border. A comedic web series features a young Asian-American woman beginning a journey of sexual discovery after reluctantly enrolling in a Women’s Studies class. A dramatic feature explores the relationship between a trans Filipina working as a caregiver in Brighton Beach and a Russian-Jewish man. Among the theater projects is a musical based on the origin story of Hildegard von Bingen, one of Medieval history’s most powerful and creative women. The Negro Ensemble Company received funding for three plays one of which is a reimagined work by the late Ntozake Shange. For a full list of projects click here.
Applications were evaluated by industry experts, including Tracey Scott Wilson, playwright and Executive Producer on “The Americans” series, actors Daphne Rubin-Vega and Kathleen Chalfant, screenwriter Amy Fox, and Lesli Klainberg, the executive director of the Film Society of Lincoln Center. The full list of panelists can be found here.
“We’re honored that the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment entrusted us to administer this groundbreaking program,” said Michael L. Royce, Executive Director, NYFA. “NYFA has a long history of supporting artists at all stages of their creative careers, including many female or female-identifying artists and artists of color who have made a significant impact in their fields and in the larger cultural sphere. It’s exciting for us to continue to support unique voices and perspectives through the Women’s Film, TV and Theatre Fund.”
Women in TV accounted for only 27% of all creators, directors, writers, executive producers, producers, editors and directors of photography in the 2017-2018 season; and women comprised 20% of all directors, writers, producers, executive directors, editors and cinematographers in the top 250 films in 2018, according to the Center for the Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University. This past season, only 19 percent of Broadway productions were helmed by women, a record high.
If the 2019 Academy Awards are an indication, women’s film projects are gaining even more momentum. A record total of 15 women took home the award this year, including New York City legend Lady Gaga and New York-born Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi, co-director of the winning documentary, Free Solo. Still, only one woman has won Best Director in 91 years of Oscar history, Kathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker.
In addition to being “made by, for, or about” all who identify as women, projects were eligible if they feature a strong female perspective; and/or include a female-identified director; and/or include a meaningful female-identified producer credit; and/or include a meaningful female-identified writing credit; and/or include a female-identified protagonist(s). Projects also had to be “Made in NY”; for film and video projects (1) 75% of its total shooting days take place in New York City, or (2) 75% of its below-the-line production costs are incurred in New York City; theatre projects must be rehearsed and performed in New York City. For a complete listing of the guidelines, click here.
The “Made in NY” Women’s Film, TV and Theatre Fund provides grants to encourage and support the creation of film, television, digital, and live theatre content that reflects the voices and perspectives of all who identify as women, and provides finishing grants for film, television, digital projects and theatre productions. The next award cycles are scheduled to commence Summer/Fall of 2019 and 2020. To sign up for updates on the Fund, visit MOME’s website. You can use hashtag #NYCWomensFund to participate in the conversation.
“The stories our culture tells have a deep-seated effect on our perspectives and the way we treat each other,” State Senator Julia Salazar, Chair of Committee on Women’s Issues. “When women’s perspectives are represented in art, this has an important effect on the status of women in our male-dominated, patriarchal society. I applaud the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment for their commitment to making womens’ voices heard.” State Senator Julia Salazar, Chair of Committee on Women’s Issues.
“The Women’s Fund grant is such a remarkable initiative because it provides women in media the support that they need in times where their ideas and vision are deemed not important,” said Assembly Member Latrice Monique Walker, Chair of the NYS Assembly’s Task Force on Women’s Issues. I applaud Mayor de Blasio and the Office of Media and Entertainment for making this incredible opportunity available for so many women across the city as they embark on new journeys in their careers to break barriers and create change.”
“Film, television, and theater inspire hearts and minds with stories that reflect the human experience,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams. “It’s important that those stories are written and shaped by a diverse cross-section of humanity. I commend MOME for allocating grant funding to more than a dozen women in Brooklyn for projects that are women-led and women-inspired.”
“Women continue to be underrepresented in the film, television, and theatre industries, so I’m excited that the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment is supporting these 63 projects made by, for, or about women,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “Congratulations to all of the awardees in this inaugural round of funding.”
“I want to congratulate the first ever grant recipients of the “Made in NY” Women’s Film, TV & Theatre Fund, many of whom I am proud to represent in the Council, said Councilwoman Carlina Rivera. “Gender inequality continues to exist today largely because our culture and media continue to reinforce discrimination and stereotypes that our society should have let go of years ago. If we are going to change things, we need to recognize the power of women’s voices in the entertainment industry and provide them with the funds to fulfill their dreams. I look forward to seeing more New York women in the future receive these game-changing grants and being able to tell their stories.”