New York state has adopted a landmark TV diversity law that will provide production tax incentives to companies that hire women and people of color for writing and directing jobs.
The bill championed by the Writers Guild of America, East and Directors Guild of America calls for incentives of up to 30% of an individual’s salary so long as the person lives in New York. The credit would be capped at $150,000 in salaries and fees per person, and $50,000 per episode. The state has set aside $5 million for the program.
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The bill has been circulating around Albany for several years. It was vetoed last year by Gov. Andrew Cuomo because of what he said were concerns about how the credit would be calculated. This time around Cuomo said he secured commitment from the legislature to study the “underutilization” of women and people of color as writers and directors. It would also require a set number of days that the project has to shoot in New York. Cuomo notes that those and other restrictions were important because the bill expands New York state’s expansive tax credit program to supporting above-the-line roles for the first time.
Advocating for the bill has been a priority for WGA East executive director Lowell Peterson.
“Television starts with storytelling, and our members made clear that this legislation was necessary to make television more inclusive and more reflective of the lives of the people who live here and who comprise the audience for the shows that are made here,” Peterson said. “This bill will strengthen the entertainment industry in New York and, most importantly, build a critical mass of diverse talent that ensures our industry continues to be an engine of growth and employment for years to come.”
Neil Dudich, eastern executive director of DGA, praised the legislators that supported the bill.
“We commend Governor Cuomo for signing this important bill into law, encouraging television employers to discover the full range of New York’s talented directors and writers,” he said. “We are incredibly grateful to the bill’s sponsors State Senator Robert Jackson and Assemblyman Marcos Crespo for taking a stand on this important issue, to our partners in this effort, the Writers Guild of America, East, and to New York’s broader labor and film community who provided their support. For years the DGA has pushed the industry to adopt more diverse and inclusive hiring practices, and we will continue to fight for fairness for all directors.”
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