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WCNY to use nearly $500K state grant for film industry workforce development

By Eric Reinhardt (


WCNY, a public-communications organization located at 415 W. Fayette St, will use a state grant of nearly $500,000 for its WCNY Entertainment Academy, which will launch this fall, Empire State Development announced. (Eric Reinhardt / CNYBJ)

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — WCNY in Syracuse will use a state grant of nearly $500,000 for its new WCNY Entertainment Academy.

The funding comes from the state’s grant program targeting entertainment workforce diversity, Empire State Development (ESD) said in a news release about the grant funding.

The academy will train the next generation of television and film-production engineers, electricians, set designers, sound mixers, and camera operators to help support the growing entertainment industry in Central New York, ESD said.

WCNY is a public-communications organization located at 415 W. Fayette St. in Syracuse.

The WCNY Entertainment Academy, which is scheduled to open this fall, will train a diverse group of people ages 25 to 39 in one of three annual 14-week training sessions with about 16 trainees per session, ESD said.

The curriculum will be taught by local union representatives, experienced staff at WCNY, and adjunct faculty members and guest lecturers from across the entertainment industry.

I.A.T.S.E. Local 52 will collaborate with WCNY to provide instructors for the program and offer a “real-world baseline of knowledge” and specific skills in grip, electric, video, sound, and shopcraft, which are necessary for graduates to be “job-ready” upon completion.

“This initiative fits the goals we have for WCNY to provide education, create economic opportunity, and enhance quality of life,” Mitch Gelman, president and CEO of WCNY, said in the ESD news release. “The Academy builds on the education services WCNY offers and will give us the opportunity to expand our commitment to help further workforce development.”

The funding award comes from the “first-in-the-nation” grant program targeting entertainment workforce diversity, ESD said. The program helps pay for job training and workforce development across the state’s entertainment industry.

It is financed by a percentage from the state’s film tax-credit program.

The program is designed to “further diversify” the industry by targeting residents of economically distressed areas of the state and “creating a pathway” to permanent jobs in film and television production, ESD said. The grant will complement more than $300,000 that WCNY will contribute to launching the Entertainment Academy, it added.

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