This article originally appeared on The Philadelphia Tribune.
A new federal program to help young Black and Latinx people find jobs in the media industry kicked off in Philadelphia this summer.
Arts2Work is the first federally-registered National Apprenticeship Program in Media Arts and Creative Technologies. The pre-apprenticeship program calls PhillyCAM home.
Located in Center City, PhillyCAM is a community media center committed to teaching, creating, and distributing locally-produced media content.
Arts2Work’s purpose is to create a path to careers in media entertainment, journalism, advertising, and related fields for artists of color, women, youth, LGBTQ, people with disabilities and those experiencing poverty. The program focuses on youth from ages 18 to 21.
Wendy Levy, Executive Director of the Alliance for Media Arts and Culture, said most careers have some kind of apprenticeship program and she couldn’t believe one didn’t exist for the media arts.
“We consider Arts2Work a revolutionary blueprint for the future of creative work,” Levy said. “If you want to learn to be an electrician or a construction worker or a healthcare worker. You get to learn on the job, you get to get paid to learn, and then you advance in your job and then you have a union gig for life.”
She started the program to change the fact that most media arts interns work for very little or no pay.
“In the media industry, we’re built on a culture of unpaid and low paid internships and more often than not they don’t lead to jobs,” Levy said. “So I’m like, why, why, why does that have to happen?”
The executive director said now is the time to amplify voices that have previously been silenced or ignored.
“The culture of the media industry, which is indicated by ‘Oscar So White and the ‘Me too’ movement, it’s a system that’s broken and completely inequitable and persistently prioritizes white power, white male power especially, and so we wanted to create this pipeline to jobs for young people who are not rich, white and entitled,” Levy said.