Earlier this week, GLAAD, the leading advocacy organization for LGBTQ representation in the media, launched glaadgrants, which will offer funding and mentorship to content creators for in-progress works that advance GLAAD’s mission of amplifying diverse voices from the LGBTQ community.
“Our vision is to support and inspire content creators to tell stories that accelerate acceptance of LGBTQ people here at home and around the world,” said GLAAD President & CEO Sarah Kate Ellis. “With a special emphasis on under-represented LGBTQ people, GLAAD’s work empowers real people to tell stories and amplify their voices, and glaadgrants is our latest initiative towards that goal.”
GLAAD has allocated $10,000 to be distributed as completion funds for three different projects: First place will receive $5,000, and two additional recipients will receive $2,500. To be eligible, projects must be at least halfway through production and able to be completed within a year. Format is fairly open-ended: Fiction and non-fiction features and shorts, episodic content and podcasts are all eligible. Spanish-language entries are eligible and encouraged.
In addition to the funds, recipients will each be paired with an industry mentor specifically tailored to their project. No specific mentors have been announced, but according to GLAAD’s Director of Programs, Entertainment Media, Ray Bradford, the organization has a robust list of entertainment professionals from which to pull.
“We work with a lot of different organizations, from the DGA to the PGA to indie filmmakers, so we have a lot of contacts who are interested in being mentors. Once we choose the recipients, we will match them with a mentor that best represents them and the project,” Bradford told IndieWire. Beyond choosing the projects and mentors, GLAAD staff will not be involved in creative development.
Recipients agree to give GLAAD partial credit for funding in the final product, and to include GLAAD in all promotional material. “In return, we will feature them in our announcements and on our website. Obviously, it’s an investment on our part, but we stand behind these projects, and if it ends up being great, we want to promote it,” said Bradford.
“I should say that just because you win a glaadgrant does not mean you will be considered for a GLAAD Media Award,” he added. The GLAAD Media Awards are the organization’s most public-facing event, an annual ceremony taking place in New York and Los Angeles and honoring various branches of media for outstanding representation of the LGBTQ community.
The organization also conducts its Studio Responsibility Index, a yearly report on LGBTQ media representation. According to last year’s Index, only 17.5% of all major film studio releases in 2015 included LGBTQ-identified characters, with decreased racial diversity over the preceding year. And of the 895 series regular characters expected to appear on broadcast primetime programming within the 2016-2017 season, according to GLAAD’s most recent Where We Are On TV Report, only 4.8% were counted as LGBTQ.
That’s something Bradford is hoping glaadgrants will be able to change. “Our goal has always been authenticity of fair, accurate, and inclusive stories and images across all platforms. This is the first step in creating a pipeline of talented LGBTQ content creators that can hopefully move into the mainstream of Hollywood.” There is no requirement that applicants identify as LGBTQ, as long as the project embodies GLAAD’s mission of presenting fair, accurate, and inclusive stories representing the LGBTQ community.
Those interested in applying can visit GLAAD’s website to learn about submission and application guidelines, as well as FAQs. The deadline for entries to be received is 5:00 p.m. PT, on Friday, March 24th, 2017.