The Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment (MOME) proudly announces the selection of 89 projects, led by female-identifying creatives, that will receive finishing grants in the third round of the NYC Women’s Fund for Media, Music, and Theatre.
The $2 million awarded in this round brings the grand total of funding to $5.5 million, allocated to a total of 246 recipients (94 in 2020’s second round and 63 in 2019’s first round).
This groundbreaking initiative, intended to address the underrepresentation of women in film and digital media, music, and theatre, is administered by New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA).
The full lists of categories, awarded projects, and industry panelists who made the selections can be found at nyc.gov/nycwomensfund.
“As Women’s History Month comes to a close, I can’t think of a more fitting opportunity to honor these powerhouses than provide city funding for their creative projects,” said New York City Mayor Eric Adams. “This administration is committed to supporting women-led initiatives, and we are proud to distribute this funding in hopes of transforming the film, television, and theatre industry to a more equitable environment for artists.”
Selected from 1,193 applications, the third round of NYC Women’s Fund projects cover a broad range of topics, represent a diverse group of voices, and feature both established and up-and-coming artists.
Grants were awarded in nine categories including general music, classic/jazz/experimental music, theatre productions, fiction shorts, documentary features, documentary shorts, documentary webisodes/webseries and fiction webisodes/webseries, and fiction features.
Notable trends include:
- 20% of the recipients are from AAPI descent: There is a large collection of works representing the depth and breadth of the Asian American experience and culture recognized this year, including Shelley Cheung Claudon’s documentary short, Laying the Last Track, the untold story of the Chinese railroad workers who built the Transcontinental Railroad as told by their descendants and prominent Asian American activists; Nari Kye’s documentary web series Woori Show, a bilingual educational series teaching audiences about Korean language and culture; and Siyi Chen’s New Shidaiqu music project, which explores the intersection of jazz and the Chinese popular music form, Shidaiqu.
- Women in Sports is a prominent theme: Pola Rappaport’s Addicted to Life, Marlo Pora’s Icebreakers and Maria Palacio’s The Fighter in Us, which tells the stories of an aging Paralympian, a group of LGBTQ+ figure skaters and female boxers breaking down barriers, respectively, among others, showcase a recurring theme of women in sports.
- Residents of Brooklyn make up more than half of this year’s recipients: Becky Baumwoll’s BKBXKids! Asks Why, transforms a big question about racism into a wide space for interactive exploration; and the musical album Sigs on Seeley St. from Valerie Seeley, tells the story of a formerly incarcerated survivor of domestic violence.
Launched in 2019, the NYC Women’s Fund was created to tackle the underrepresentation and equity challenges that women have historically faced in the media and entertainment industries.
Recent studies showed that fewer than 2% of all top-grossing directors were women of color in the last 15 years (“Inclusion in the Director’s Chair”), only eight women of color received a music producer credit across 500 songs (“Inclusion in the Recording Studio”), and females made up only 13% of Broadway directing and writing roles (“Broadway by the Numbers”).
In light of these statistics, the NYC Women’s Fund provides finishing funds that help creatives bring their projects, by, for, or about women, to fruition, achieve their personal and professional goals, and elevate the creative industries to a more equitable playing field.
Several recipients from the first two rounds of Women’s Fund finishing grants have enjoyed success and accolades.
A few examples include:
- Sara Serpa Santos’ Intimate Strangers, which explores and confronts the history of Portuguese colonialism in Africa, made the NY Times’ list of Best Jazz Albums of 2021 and The Nation’s list of Best Albums of 2021.
- Documentary feature Jacinta, which shows the harsh realities of addiction from director Jessica Earnshaw at Ride or Die LLC, received the Albert Maysles New Documentary Director Award at the 2020 Tribeca Film festival and was an official selection at both Doc NYC and the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival.
- Aya Ogawa’s theatrical play The Nosebleed, an autobiographic exploration of their fractured relationship with their deceased father, was a NY Times Critic’s Pick, calling it “impeccably structured and lucidly staged, this play has a disarming sense of welcome, and a down-to-earth ease…”
“Our mission is to bring opportunity to every New Yorker,” said Deputy Mayor Maria Torres-Springer. “Providing City funding to these talented female creatives is squarely aligned with our Blueprint for New York City’s Economic Recovery, intended to reinvigorate our cultural industries while building back a more inclusive city.”
“Congratulations to the third round of NYC Women’s Fund grant recipients, whose diverse talents promise to offer audiences a variety of experiences and viewpoints,” said NYC Media and Entertainment Commissioner Anne del Castillo. “As we celebrate Women’s History month, I commend the passion, resolve, and resilience of these 89 creatives, who produced inspiring content amidst the social and economic challenges of the pandemic. As the City takes steps to rebuild our creative economies, we continue to focus on addressing the existing gender and racial inequities that have been exacerbated over the past two years.”
“We are grateful to partner with the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment to administer the NYC Women’s Fund for Media, Music, and Theatre,” said Michael Royce, Executive Director, NYFA. “We are proud to help support creatives in realizing works that reflect a diversity of voices, perspectives, and experiences, and know-how integral these funds are to helping them stay true to their vision. The peer validation that this program provides makes it all the more impactful,” he added.
“I’m proud to support this initiative – the first of its kind in the nation – to fund women-led projects in the areas of media, music, and theatre. Supporting the arts is a vital strategy for making our city a vibrant, exciting, beautiful place to be, and as the Chair of the Council Committee on Women and Gender Equity, I applaud the effort to increase gender diversity in these fields, which have been dominated by men for far too long,” said Council Member Tiffany Cabán.
“Historically, women’s achievements and contributions to our workforce and society have been undervalued and overlooked,” said Council Member Amanda Farías, District 18. “I commend the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment (MOME) for countering this narrative by making history as the first city in the nation to fund women-led projects in these fields. As Co-Chair of the City Council’s Women’s Caucus and the first female Chair of the Committee on Economic Development, I am only one example of how telling women’s stories and uplifting their leadership can change the status quo for the better. In an industry that is craving more women-led narratives and perspectives, this is a great investment in ensuring more women get to take up well-earned space. Thank you MOME for recognizing the 94 amazing women who have benefited from the $50,000 grants for each of their projects in the entertainment industry.”
“Gender discrimination is prevalent in the music and entertainment industry, regardless of whether you are on-air, on camera, the artist, or producer. New York City is the media capital of the world and home to so many talented women creatives who deserve a fair chance to tell their stories, which will captivate audiences. The ‘Made in NY’ Women’s Film, TV & Theatre Fund is an extraordinary initiative that is shattering glass ceilings, increasing representation, while ending the inequities that continue to invalidate women and their experiences. Today’s announcement is the perfect way to celebrate Women’s HERstory Month and create a path towards a future that is inclusive of all,” said Council Member Farah N. Louis, co-chair of the Women’s Caucus.
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More About the 2022 NYC Women’s Fund for Media, Music, and Theatre
The 89 grants were awarded to projects in the following categories:
- 18 General Music – each received up to $20,000
- 16 Theatre Productions – each received up to $50,000
- 12 Classical/Jazz/Experimental Music – each received up to $20,000
- 10 Fiction Short – each received up to $25,000
- 8 Documentary Features – each received up to $50,000
- 8 Documentary Shorts – each received up to $25,000
- 7 Documentary Webisodes/Webseries – each received up to $20,000
- 6 Fiction Webisode/Webseries – each received up to $20,000
- 4 Fiction Features – each received up to $50,000
A panel of 42 industry experts evaluated the projects
- Paula Abreu, Associate Director of Programming at City Parks SummerStage, NYC
- Lora-Faye Åshuvud, musician and bandleader of Arthur Moon
- Mahen Bonetti, Founder and Executive Director of African Film Festival
- Migdalia Cruz, translator, librettist, lyricist, and playwright for Another Part of The House
- Emilia Ferreira, Filmmaker and Lead Programmer for the narrative section of the Brooklyn Film Festival
- Shayoni Mitra, Senior Lecturer in Theatre at Barnard College
- Mendi Obadike, musician and interdisciplinary artist, Associate Professor at Pratt Institute
- Akosua Adoma Owusu, Filmmaker and Lecturer at Harvard University and Pratt Institute
- Den Quinsay, Managing Director, Bronx Documentary Center
- Seret Scott, actor, playwright, and director of For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide / When the Rainbow Is Enuf
- Chloë Walters-Wallace, Director of Regional Initiatives for Firelight Media
- Nina C. Young, Electroacoustic composer of Tread Softly
- Debra Zimmerman, Executive Director of Women Make Movies
Several of the third round recipients are well-known in their fields, including
- Shelley Hirsch, awarded this year in the Jazz music category for Her, has performed throughout NYC venues including Alice Tully Hall and BAM, and was a recipient of the Guggenheim Fellowship in Music Composition in 2017.
- Jacquline Christy, whose fiction feature Magic Hour stars actress Miriam Shor, is the recipient of a 2017 Sloan Foundation and Women Make Movies research grant.
- LADAMA, the Latin alternative band, will use their funding award to finish and release their 3rd studio album.
The New York Foundation for the Arts
The New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA) was established in 1971 to empower artists at critical stages in their creative lives.
Today, the nonprofit organization’s programs and services are far-reaching and are rooted in a wealth of physical and online resources. Each year, NYFA awards more than $3 million in cash grants to individual visual, performing, and literary artists throughout the United States.
NYFA’s Fiscal Sponsorship program, one of the oldest and most reputable in the country, helps national artists and arts organizations raise and manage an average of $4 million annually.
NYFA’s Learning programs, including its Artist as Entrepreneur and Immigrant Artist Mentoring Program, provide thousands of artists, creatives, and arts administrators with professional development training and support.
NYFA’s website, NYFA.org, is used by more than 1 million people and features more than 20,000 opportunities and resources available to artists in all disciplines.
The Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment
The Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment’s mission is to strengthen New York City’s thriving creative economy and make it accessible to all.
In 2019, the creative industries accounted for more than 500,000 local jobs and have an economic impact of $150 billion annually.
MOME comprises five divisions: The Film Office, which coordinates on-location production throughout the five boroughs; NYC Media, the city’s official broadcast network and production group; the Office of Nightlife, which supports the city’s nighttime economy; the Press Credentials Office, which issues press cards; and Programs and Initiatives to advance industry and workforce development across NYC’s creative sectors.
Photo credit: “Our Daughters (Working Title),” by Narayanan Iyer.