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Mayor de Blasio Launches $5 Million Fund for Film and Theater Projects By, For, or About Women

Women's Fund: First-of-its-kind effort by a municipal agency to support women creators in the media and entertainment industry


NEW YORK — Mayor Bill de Blasio, Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development Alicia Glen and Mayor's Office of Media and Entertainment Commissioner Julie Menin today announced the Women's Fund, a $5 million grant program to support film and theater projects by, for, or about women.

The City is contributing the funding to encourage and support the creation of film, television, digital, theatrical, and other forms of media and entertainment in New York City that reflect the voices and perspectives of women. The New York Foundation for the Arts has been identified as an eligible awardee from the City's Request for Proposals. NYFA was founded in 1971 with a mission to empower artists and arts across all disciplines at critical stages in their development.

"New York City is the capital of film, media, and culture, and we are determined to ensure that women are able to tell and shape their own stories. This program, and the many others launched by my administration to give women a level playing field, will make a difference one movie and one theater production at a time," said Mayor Bill de Blasio.

"We see discrimination women face in the media and entertainment industries every day, and we say enough is enough. As we fight discrimination, we must ensure women are in front of and behind the camera. More than that, we intend to harness the power and talent of New York women to start businesses, grow jobs and industries – including the media industry," said Alicia Glen, New York City's Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development.

The Women's Fund is part of a groundbreaking series of initiatives aimed at combating gender bias in the film and television industries. Grants from the Women's Fund will provide funding in the late stages of film and theater projects to help applicants shepherd their projects to successful completion. Applicants will compete in several categories for awards, including short- and long-form fiction and nonfiction film and theatrical productions. Winning projects may also air on NYC Media, the official broadcast network and media production group of the City of New York.

Other elements of MOME's programs to elevate the role of women in the entertainment industry include the MOME Finance Lab, a conference connecting women filmmakers with potential funders for their projects; an inspiring new block of programming on Channel 25 focused entirely on women and their perspectives; and an upcoming report analyzing the gender imbalance of directors in the film industry.

"We are thrilled to be launching this $5 million Women's Fund at this seminal time for women in the entertainment and media industries," said Media and Entertainment Commissioner Julie Menin. "As the Me Too and Times Up movements have made clear, we need to do more to empower women to take leadership roles in film, television and theater and all media. This fund is a huge step in the right direction and reflects this administration's commitment to fairness and inclusion. It's time for women to get equal representation on screen and behind the scenes, and I am proud to do our part to make that goal attainable for New York-based creators."

The MOME Women's Fund will award cash grants of up to $50,000, which will vary based on project category. To be eligible for a grant, media content must be "Made in NY" with at least 75% of production activity taking place in the five boroughs. The content must be suitable and appropriate to air on a NYC Media outlet. The project must be produced by, for, or about women, include a meaningful female production or writing credit, or include a female protagonist. Content should inform, educate, and entertain New Yorkers about the City's diverse people and neighborhoods, government, services, attractions, and activities. Finally, the project must be a work in progress; finished or previously-produced projects will not be eligible. The Fund will support upwards of 100 total projects.

Women face stark disparities in the realm of media and entertainment, as in other sectors. While women make up 52% of New York City's population, their voices are too often missing in the stories that we hear and watch.

Study after study has confirmed that women are consistently underrepresented both on camera and behind the scenes. According to a recent report from the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film, in 2017 women comprised only 11% of directors, 11% of writers, and 19% of executive producers in the 250 top-grossing films of the year. Despite a great deal of discussion of the lack of representation of women and female perspectives, the media industry has made little progress in addressing this systemic inequality.

In a first-of-its-kind effort by a municipal agency, MOME has launched this series of media and entertainment content grants to encourage and support the creation of film, digital, theatrical, and other forms of media and entertainment content in New York City that reflect the voices and perspectives of women. The grant fund is intended to support production and content by, for, or about women, and to stimulate innovation in the city's economic sectors. The filmed entertainment industry contributes over $9 billion to the city's economy on an annual basis, and creates over 130,000 good-paying, full-time jobs.

To sign up for updates on the Fund visit MOME's website.