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New York faces call for diversity filming incentive

New YorkNew York has been called on by the Writers Guild of America (WGA) East to support a diversity filming incentive for TV shows shooting in the state.

New York offers $420m in tax credits each year through its filming incentive programme. Rather than increase the annual fund, the WGA East wants to set aside $5m of the existing pot to specifically support TV shows that hire writers or directors who are female or of an ethnic minority.

Numerous high-profile screen and TV writers are supporting the move, including comedy writer Tina Fey, GoodFellas author-screenwriter Nicholas Pileggi, outgoing House of Cards showrunner Beau Willimon and Michael Arndt whose writing credits include Star Wars: The Force Awakens.  

“We believe the time has come to act, to make diversity a reality in television,” said Lowell Peterson, executive director of the WGA East. “This incentive to hire women and people of colour to write and direct television sits within the existing production tax credit, which has proved so successful at creating real employment opportunities.”

Less than a third of TV writers working in the US in 2014 were women and just 13% were of an ethnic minority, according to a recent study from the University of California, Los Angeles.

New York’s filming tax credit has helped turn the state into one of the top production hubs in the US. Incentivising greater diversity in TV would be a symbolic step forward.  

The diversity issue is an international one. Figures released last week by Directors UK, the professional association for film directors in Britain, showed that women accounted for just 13% of directors who worked on UK films between 2005 and 2014. To find out more about the Directors UK report, visit our sister site The Knowledge.

For more on filming in New York see our production guide.