NYC unveils latest round of funding for female creators

By Marissa Mann

The NYC Women’s Fund for Media, Music and Theatre has awarded its second round of grant funding to 94 music, theatre, film and digital media projects led by female and female-identifying artists. These grants total $2 million and are designed to help artists complete their projects.

The Mayor’s Office for Media and Entertainment (MOME), in partnership with the New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA), launched the $5.5 million, three-year program in 2018 to support film, digital and theater projects made by New York City women, with the goal of fostering gender equity in financing opportunities in the entertainment industry. New York is the first city in the country to provide direct grants to women working in these industries, and during the Fund’s first round last year, MOME awarded a total of $1.5 million to 63 film, digital and theatre projects, up to $50,000 per project. In 2019, $500,000 was added to support music projects.

The addition of music to the list of eligible categories will further the program’s goal to target gender inequity in stubbornly male-dominated industries. Nationally, just four of the top 100 grossing films were directed by a woman last year, and women comprised fewer than 30% of writers, creators, directors or other leading roles. And when it comes to music, a recent report from the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative found that from 2013-2019, just 10% of GRAMMY nominees were women, and from 2012-2018 only 22% of artists, 12% of songwriters and 2% of producers of 700 popular songs from the Hot 100 year-end Billboard Charts were female.

MOME awarded grants to projects in the following categories:

  • 20 Popular Music – up to $20,000
  • 15 Classical/Jazz/Experimental – up to $20,000
  • 16 Theatre Productions – each received up to $50,000
  • 8 Documentary Features –up to $50,000
  • 4 Fiction Features –up to $50,000
  • 9 Fiction Shorts –up to $25,000
  • 8 Documentary Shorts – up to $25,000
  • 7 Fiction Webisode / Webseries – up to $20,000
  • 7 Documentary Webisodes / Webseries – up to $20,000

The projects selected cover a broad range of topics including: a bilingual album that features women’s voices in the Mexican and American folk genres; an EP that combines afrobeat, jazz fusion, and afro house music with lyrics that address female empowerment; a theatre production about an Iranian-American woman’s anti-war dinner party that goes off track; a documentary webseries that follows the lives of five people through the world of dance; a fiction short about two Puerto Rican women from the Bronx who go on a dangerous Las Vegas adventure; and a fiction feature film about family, survival and sexual assault.

In total, 1,357 applications were evaluated by a panel of 48 industry experts.

The full list of projects that received awards and panelists can be found here. Grant guidelines can be found on NYFA’s website.