The Writers Guild of America-East is currently lobbying the New York State legislature to receive tax breaks for diverse writers’ rooms.
Of the $420 million in tax credits currently allocated to film and TV tax credits in New York state, the WGA-E is seeking no more than $5 million to be distributed to productions for diversifying their writing staff. The proposed amendment would offer up to $50,000 in tax breaks to reimburse a female and/or nonwhite writer’s fees and salary.
“It’s a small piece of the credit, so there aren’t major interests that would lose out,” said WGA-E executive Lowell Peterson. “I think we would all gain, because in the long run, having more diverse writing rooms benefits everyone.”
He added,”Starting with diversity in writing rooms… means that in the next 15, 20 years, you’ll have many more producers who are women or people of color.”
Asian-American writer Lisa Takeuchi Cullen, whose pilot The Ordained was not picked up by CBS last year, commented, “I think people like me have stories to tell, and I think we sound a little different and we have life experiences that are different from many of the [reportedly less diverse pool of] writers who are working in Los Angeles today.”
According to a 2012 study by the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film, female writers comprise 20-25% of network writing staffs, while a 2013 WGA-W report states that union efforts led to a jump in racial diversity numbers, from writers of color making up 7.5% of writing rooms in 1990-2000 to 15.6% in the 2011-2012 season.
[h/t Capital NY]