LaGuardia Receives Empire State Development Grant to Launch Accelerated Training for Film Production Accounting
LONG ISLAND CITY, NY (November 16, 2023) — LaGuardia Community College/CUNY has been awarded $212,584 from Empire State Development (ESD) to train unemployed and underemployed New Yorkers for in-demand accounting jobs in the entertainment industry. The We Count Pathways to Production Accounting for the Entertainment Industry, which began this month, is a six-week accelerated training program, provided tuition-free for students, who will earn stipends, job placement assistance, and other benefits. It was developed in partnership with the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) Local 161 production accountants and Trevanna Post, an accounting firm serving the entertainment industry.
“The film and television industry is vital to New York’s economy and it offers well-paying jobs to tens of thousands of residents throughout the state,” said Hope Knight, ESD President, CEO and Commissioner. “We are committed to ensuring that all New Yorkers have the ability to live and work in New York State and are able to obtain the skills in sought after industries, so they too can thrive.”
The grant funding comes from ESD’s New York Entertainment Workforce Diversity Grant Program, which was developed to incentivize job creation and training programs that support efforts to recruit, hire, promote, retain, develop, and train a diverse and inclusive workforce for New York’s motion picture and television industry.
“With our diverse student population, and our location in Western Queens—a hub for film and entertainment production since the silent movie era—LaGuardia is in a unique position to recruit, train, and promote the inclusive workforce that the film and entertainment industry seeks,” said Kenneth Adams, President of LaGuardia Community College. “Our gratitude to Empire State Development for the funding that has enabled us to launch We Count in partnership with the local film industry, Local 161, and Trevanna Post. Not only will this program establish a pathway to careers in the entertainment industry accounting field for unemployed and underemployed New Yorkers, but it will introduce our accounting and business administration majors to opportunities in the entertainment and performing arts industries.”
We Count students will have opportunities for hands-on experience in film/television production accounting and a fast track to industry jobs, thanks to the partnerships with Local 161 and Trevanna Post.
“We are proud to support these students interested in a career as Production Accountants,” said Cynthia O’Rourke, Local 161’s Business Agent. “Accounting is critical to every production, and We Count is a fantastic way to introduce LaGuardia’s students to one of the more hidden career paths in the motion picture industry.”
“Trevanna Post is thrilled to partner with LaGuardia again on this unique course. As a post accounting firm, Trevanna Post inherits the work of Production Accountants and is acutely aware of the need for high-level training in this department. We love letting hard working students know that their interest in accounting can make movies and TV shows! Their talents aren’t relegated to the CPA track,” said Yana Collins Lehman, CEO of Trevanna Post. “I’m grateful to ESD for appreciating the need for this training and working so hard to make the course a reality.”
First We Count Cohort is Underway
The first cohort of We Count began on Monday, November 7. The 24 students enrolled in the six–week program are students and alumni of LaGuardia’s Accounting and Business Administration associate degree majors. They were recruited by LaGuardia’s Center for Career and Professional Development.
Training began with a Bridge Program—two four-hour refresher courses in Microsoft Excel and Adobe Acrobat taught by LaGuardia Business and Technology faculty—to ensure students have the requisite accounting and PDF software skills. The Bridge Program is followed by 40 hours of training in accounting for film productions, taught by subject matter experts from Local 161.
Students who complete We Count should be well prepared to enter the workforce for an entry level job on a production or post-production accounting crew, or for further accelerated training for a higher position via film and television production companies or Local 161 training programs.
Film and Entertainment Industry is Growing in Western Queens
According to a 2021 Economic Impact Study published by NYC Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment, the film and entertainment production industry in New York City generates more than$18.1 billion in wages and approximately 185,000 jobs. A scarcity of skilled accountants predates recent labor union strikes. This scarcity, paired with the demand for new content across platforms and providers, makes it likely that production accounting remains a high-demand field with opportunities for rapid growth.
In addition, demand is increasing for the diverse workforce that will emerge from the We Count initiative. LaGuardia serves a highly diverse population of nearly 15,000 students in associate degree programs. Consistent with the demographics of Queens, 52% of LaGuardia students are born outside of the United States. They come from 133 countries, speak 62 languages, and more than half (54%) are first-generation college students. A majority are ethnic minorities (88%). LaGuardia is a U.S. Education Department-designated Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI).
Many entertainment companies and organizations, including PBS, ABC, Netflix, the Grammys, and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, have launched initiatives to address a historical lack of diversity and inclusion in the industry, citing the annual “Hollywood Diversity Report” released by the Bunche Center for African American Studies and the UCLA‐based Center for Scholars, and the Storytellers 2020 report, “Beyond Checking A Box: A Lack of Authentically Inclusive Representation Has Costs at the Box Office.” These transformations go beyond on‐screen and marquee talent, extending to behind‐the‐scenes workers, through initiatives such as NBC’s Production Coordinator Program.
Building on Partnerships with Trevanna Post and Entertainment Industry Unions
With ESD support, LaGuardia is also partnering with another entertainment industry union, IATSE Local 52, to offer its Film Production Training Program, a 14–week part‐time training for entry‐level employment film production assistants in electrical, grip, or property.
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LaGuardia Community College (LAGCC), a Hispanic-Serving Institution, located in Long Island City, Queens offers more than 50 degrees and certificates, and more than 65 continuing education programs to educate New Yorkers seeking new skills and careers. As an institution of the City University of New York (CUNY), the College reflects the legacy of our namesake, Fiorello H. LaGuardia, the former NYC mayor beloved for his advocacy of underserved populations. Since 1971, LaGuardia’s academic programs and support services have advanced the socioeconomic mobility of students while providing them with access to a high quality, affordable college education.
Empire State Development (ESD) is New York’s chief economic development agency. The mission of ESD is to promote a vigorous and growing economy, encourage the creation of new job and economic opportunities, increase revenues to the State and its municipalities, and achieve stable and diversified local economies. Through the use of loans, grants, tax credits and other forms of financial assistance, ESD strives to enhance private business investment and growth to spur job creation and support prosperous communities across New York State. ESD is also the primary administrative agency overseeing the New York State Regional Economic Development Councils and the marketing of “I LOVE NY,” the State’s iconic tourism brand.
Trevanna Post, Inc. has been the film industry’s premier post-production accounting firm for over 26 years. Among their assets is an efficient team of accounting professionals who work diligently to promote the film, television, and post-production industry. With such a large and experienced staff, and offices in New York, Los Angeles, and London, Trevanna is proud to provide the collective resources of their company. Their goal is to facilitate financial analysis that will help make the best creative decisions for every project.