By Nicholas Bainbridge
The North Carolina Arts Council, a state organization dedicated to promoting creative industries, is working to increase interest in arts-related careers. The film industry, in particular, has been using the aid of the council to expand the number of opportunities it presents to people entering the workforce, through the implementation of grants and the chance to retrieve training from experienced members in the field.
The film industry in North Carolina has recently experienced substantial growth, creating over 5,000 new, in-state jobs during 2020, despite the obstacles posed by COVID-19.
These new positions are not meager ones either. The average yearly salary for someone in the North Carolina film industry is $6,000 higher than the state average for all wages.
In an interview with the Campus Chronicle, Susi H. Hamilton, secretary of the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, emphasized the importance of the film industry to the state.
“North Carolina has had a long presence in the film production world, and years ago, Canada started offering an incentive for productions to come to Canada to do work,” said Hamilton. “Because of this, we started doing the same thing in the United States. North Carolina has always been one of the most competitive states for the film industry.”
“We switched over to a grant-based program, and we ended up losing around 70%-80% of all film and television production,” explained Hamilton. “That, and House Bill 2, which the industry was opposed to, led to major losses for in-state jobs, as many companies pulled out of the state. Now that House Bill 2 is repealed and we regulated our funding, we have improved our position and are, once again, seeing major growth in film and television.”
House Bill 2 was a controversial piece of North Carolina legislation implemented in 2016 that prohibited transgender people from using the restrooms of their choice, resulting in widespread backlash and several companies decreasing the amount of business they did in the state.
The North Carolina Arts Council connected with the Campus Chronicle to express to college students that there are many opportunities for them in arts-related fields, even if their skill sets are not explicitly artistic.
“There is a broad spectrum of work that needs to be done in film production,” said Hamilton. “Film sets often need not just actors, but carpenters, plumbers and electricians.”
One of the ways the Council is working to encourage young people to enter this field is through their grants, which offer financial support to artists and their staff.
The Arts Council provides other resources for those interested in pursuing a career in the arts. Those seeking training can apply for an internship or apprenticeship through the Arts Council to be immersed in the culture of their respective industry and receive expert training.
Hamilton also expressed that college students are especially welcome as newcomers to the industry, as new talent will be particularly helpful to aid the growing industry.
The film and television industry has been booming over the past two years, but the global impact of the disease has forced companies and producers to grapple with difficult challenges until the pandemic comes to an end.
“The pandemic has stopped film and television production all over the world, and North Carolina is no different,” said Hamilton. “Major production companies, like Disney, are concerned about getting film and television back up and running because it is a very hands-on industry that would invite safety concerns.”
The North Carolina Arts Council is still accepting applications for its programs so that participants may benefit from them, either through ways that won’t endanger their health or after the pandemic has passed.
Many of these grants, internships and apprenticeship opportunities, as well as ways to contact members of the North Carolina Arts Council for more information, can be found on their website, NCarts.org.