Film and digital media companies in Los Angeles County are adding jobs at a faster rate than the rest of the economy, prompting the Board of Supervisors Tuesday to explore ways to support that growth and open access to a more diverse set of would-be employees.
Supervisor Sheila Kuehl championed a plan to implement recommendations offered in a recent report commissioned by the county.
"The county's participation is important in the light of movements like #MeToo and #OscarsSoWhite, as well as our own data, which show that we still have work to do," Kuehl said. "A diverse population is one of L.A.'s great strengths and we want to be sure that our diversity helps our creative businesses remain competitive and choose to grow their businesses here."
Beacon Economic's recent report found that traditional and digital media and related businesses have added nearly 50,000 jobs between 2011 and 2016, directly employing 265,000 workers. There has been a broad uptick in local film production and the industry is projected to add another 16,000-plus jobs over the next three years, according to Beacon.
Jobs in the sector pay an average annual wage $117,000, according to the report. And they offer another advantage, Kuehl said.
"You can't automate or outsource creativity," she said.
Traditionally, however, it has been hard to get a job in the close-knit film business without having a connection on the inside.
Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, who co-authored the motion, said it made sense to invest the county's resources to change that and create a career pathway for underrepresented groups.
"As the imagination capital of the world, home to more than a hundred cultural institutions, as well as numerous world-class sporting assets, the best we can do for the diverse, skilled local workforce of L.A. County is to invest in this unique and powerful economic opportunity."
The board directed the county's chief executive officer to work with the directors of workforce development, the Arts Commission and others, including labor leaders and educational institutions, to come up with a plan to support vocational training and apprenticeships. It also asked the CEO to advocate for legislation that supports industry growth.
The county will also consider supporting digital media incubators as well as creating the Los Angeles County International Forum on Film to draw more investment to the region.
A report is expected back in 90 days.