BAFTA said on Thursday that it plans to “supercharge its support of talented individuals from underrepresented groups wishing to pursue a career in the film, games and television industries,” informed by ongoing research on the barriers to progression in the sectors.
During a visit from its president, The Duke of Cambridge Prince William, the British academy unveiled several initiatives. For example, it said it would launch the new Prince William BAFTA Bursary fund, which is “aimed at talented individuals who, due to financial reasons, would otherwise not be able to pursue careers in the screen industries.”
For emerging and mid-level professionals, BAFTA announced Connect, a new discounted tier of membership designed to “provide an opportunity to build a professional network and access BAFTA’s membership benefits at an earlier career stage.”
It was also announced that the year-long BAFTA Elevate program of support and activities would open this year to producers working in film and, scripted and non-scripted, television who are “disabled, from minority ethnic backgrounds and from low-socioeconomic backgrounds.”
To launch the next phase of BAFTA’s enhanced learning and new talent programs and to mark the reopening of BAFTA’s newly redeveloped headquarters in London, Prince WIlliam met with a group of beneficiaries of BAFTA’s initiatives, discussing the importance of mentoring support with mentors Suranne Jones (Gentleman Jack) and BBC host Annie Price and their mentees and meeting with others.
“I am hugely proud of BAFTA’s ongoing commitment to ensuring that young talent from all walks of life are given every possible opportunity to build and develop successful careers in the film, games and television industries,” the royal said.
“The initiatives we are announcing today are in direct response to research identifying some of the barriers to opportunity talented people across the country face when trying to pursue careers in the screen industries,” said BAFTA CEO Amanda Berry. “Our talent development programs enable those from under-represented groups to access BAFTA’s extensive network of industry professionals to aid their career progression, while our bursaries and scholarships provide vital financial support for recipients who otherwise would not consider a career in film, games or television. For the first time we are introducing a new tier of membership that will open up our organization to a wider range of creative talent, and at an earlier stage of their careers.”
BAFTA chair Krishnendu Majumdar added: “As we kick-start the year of BAFTA’s 75th anniversary, I’m excited for what BAFTA will be able to accomplish over the next 12 months.”
Jones also shared her thoughts. “If you want to find your footing in the arts, BAFTA’s unique approach of harnessing the industry to support emerging talent can be invaluable,” she said. “As young as eight, I dreamed of becoming an actor, but I didn’t begin my professional career until the age of 16. A lot of young people in creative fields who don’t have family connections in the industry don’t know where to turn for help or advice, and I resonate with their stories in that sense. Behind the scenes and beyond the awards, there is a lot of good work being done to level the playing field for creatives from all walks of life, and I’m delighted to play my part in my role as a BAFTA mentor.”