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xoTO Screen Industry Pathways Paves Road to Diversity in Film

From Left: Neishaw Ali: President/Executive Producer of SpinVFX, John Tory: Toronto Mayor, Paula Fletcher: Councillor (Toronto-Danforth) & Chair of the Film, Television and Digital Media Advisory Board

SpinVFX’s President and Executive Producer, Neishaw Ali has consistently demonstrated Spin’s commitment to advancing diversity and inclusion in the film industry over the years by lending our industry resources to jumpstart xoTO’s Screen Industry Pathways. On Monday, September 13th, The City of Toronto announced a groundbreaking $800,000 provincial grant to scale up its community impact. Ali was immensely grateful to see this important initiative get the financial recognition it deserves:

The Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development is contributing an overall investment of $1.3M over 2022 to directly train more than 200 participants who are Black, Indigenous and people of colour. This funding will also provide educational tools for all aspiring film-makers in Toronto to familiarize themselves with industry career paths. The project is funded in part by the Governments of Canada and the Government of Ontario for screen industry workforce development through the City’s Film Office and Toronto Employment & Social Services.

Toronto Mayor John Tory, the City of Toronto’s Film Office and its partners announced this exciting program expansion on the lawn of IATSE 873 to a crowd of Screen Industry Pathways’ biggest supporters, taking time to meet everyone responsible for its success over the years. Mayor Tory was proud that companies creating in Toronto can now, more easily than ever, contribute to the fast-tracking of a wider, more diverse pool of talent in the film industry:

“The City and our partners are ideally equipped to deliver scaled-up, evidence-based workforce development programs that will have real impact for both the industry and Toronto’s Black, Indigenous and people of colour youth. With today’s announcement we are even better prepared to embrace a better and stronger future for Toronto’s screen industry with a workforce diversified in its skills, age and cultural backgrounds.”

The following new and expanded programs will be offered in 2021 and 2022 to address labour gaps and employment opportunities:

·         Launch of the Entertainment Trades Training Program 

·         Launch of a Production Accounting Training Program 

·         Expansion of the Production Assistant Training Program 

·         Increase the number of participants in xoTO Schools 

·         Launch of a Film Careers Toolkit later this season, available on the City’s website

·         Additional industry-led training expanded to more not-for-profit community groups such as OYA Media Group, ArtworksTO and The Remix Project, provided by the Directors Guild of Canada – Ontario & the Sheridan Screen Industries Research & Training Centre.

·         Connect productions and the industry to new talent from diverse community programs and through industry partners BIPOC TV&FILM’s HireBIPOC, Reelworld’s Access Reelworld and ACTRA’s ACTRAonline Diversity Performers database.

For the official City of Toronto news release, click here.

From Left: Tiny Chinee: Screen Industry Pathways Participant, Agapi Gessesse, Executive Director, CEE Centre for Young Black Professionals
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