Arts General

One-of-a-kind program helps underserved youth launch film careers

Written by Mindia Whittier

New initiative seeks to make young adults from underrepresented communities as hire-able as possible.

A nonprofit collaborative has implemented a program helping youth from under-served and underrepresented communities in Dallas pursue careers as visual storytellers. Partnering organizations say it’s the first program of its kind nationally.

The Pegasus Media Project Apprenticeship Workforce Program was launched in partnership with The Alliance of Media Arts + Culture and Workforce Solutions Greater Dallas. A career on-ramp for North Texas’ aspiring film artists, it is designed to give young adults a pathway into the film and media arts industry.

Dallas-Fort Worth boasts the state’s largest creative economy at $34 billion and more than 200,000 jobs. Yet pathways to those careers have traditionally been built on a culture of unpaid internships. And even with paid apprenticeships available, many people still need an on-ramp to qualify for them. The Apprenticeship Workforce Program offers access to subsidized, high-quality apprenticeship and professional development programs in media arts and creative technologies with special outreach to communities of color, women, LGBT, and persons with disabilities.

Efforts by the collaborative agencies to provide access to creative careers for individuals traditionally excluded from those opportunities began in 2021. The pilot program was seeded with $250,000 in cash and in-kind investments from Alliance for Media Arts + Culture, Workforce Solutions Greater Dallas, Adobe, MIT Solve and New Profit. The funding provided equipment and infrastructure for the program.

Apprentices must be between 18 and 36 years old. Requirements including having a high school diploma or GED and some prior media production experience. Participants are selected through an application and interviews. They receive a stipend of $3,000.

Over 15 weeks, film educators, teachers and mentors working in the industry train the apprentices in equipment use and technique, including personalized education in digital media, audio/video production and post, cinema studies, emerging media arts and creative technology. The program provides more than 200 hours of classroom instruction and 90 hours of independent or field work.

As part of their on-the-job training, Pegasus Media Project apprentices in the inaugural cohort made films for local performing arts groups aimed at bringing audiences back to theaters.

Applications for the next masterclass will be accepted in the first quarter of 2022.

About the author

Mindia Whittier