Promoting diversity and inclusion in the realm of audiovisual content creation is vital. It’s a driving force propelling the audiovisual industry in Latin America and the Caribbean to new heights, transforming it into a true powerhouse for economic and social progress. This entails ensuring the representation of various ethnic, cultural, and gender groups and providing opportunities to individuals who have traditionally been marginalized within the industry. Inclusion and diversity are pivotal in generating innovative ideas and approaches that resonate with an increasingly varied audience.
The audiovisual industry has emerged as one of the most significant players on the global stage in the past decade. In 2019, more than $5.7 billion was invested in Latin America and the Caribbean, resulting in the creation of over 1.6 million direct (30%) and indirect (67%) jobs, as per a study by Olsberg SPI. These indirect jobs are in sectors such as construction, travel, transportation, hotels, food services, security, health, among others.
Ways to Enhance the Growth of the Audiovisual Industry: Opportunities and Challenges
A study published by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and Netflix pinpointed the primary opportunities and challenges to enhance sector growth in the region.
- Establishing relevant courses, academic programs, and training options within the offerings of educational institutions.
- A stronger alignment between educational curricula and market needs is essential. The industry requires professionals who not only possess technical skills, including digital proficiency for specific roles, but also 21st-century skills that enable effective collaboration, seamless adaptation to new technologies, creative problem-solving, and impactful communication. By honing these skills, young talents can better navigate the industry’s ever-evolving landscape.
For the industry to have these skills readily available in the workforce, it is essential to invest in the talent of the new generations.
Especially, among young individuals who, due to various factors, lack access to quality and relevant educational opportunities. This investment is not solely the government’s responsibility; the private sector also plays a pivotal role in nurturing creative talent.
This is precisely why companies like Netflix, Amazon, and Disney are increasingly channeling their investments into local productions, fostering collaboration among key players in the industry. This concerted effort ensures that the region continues to meet the growing demands of the audiovisual sector, which now calls for the inclusion of more diverse voices.
Colombia Emerges as an Audiovisual Powerhouse
In Colombia, there is a clear imperative to nurture a skilled workforce that can meet the demands of the industry and ignite the interest of young individuals in fields associated with the cultural and creative sectors.
For this reason, the IDB, the Ministry of Culture in Colombia, and Netflix launched the Sandbox Audiovisual program in 2022. This initiative aims to support the development of the Colombian audiovisual industry by creating practical training opportunities for 1,500 young people in conditions and/or risk of vulnerability (women, indigenous, Afro-descendants and members of the LGBTIQ+ community) who exhibit remarkable creative potential but lack prior experience in the sector.
The Sandbox Audiovisual initiative in Colombia seeks to highlight the social and economic value inherent in careers within the cultural and creative industries. It inspires young individuals to broaden their educational paths, providing access to high-level training opportunities for honing both technical skills and 21st-century competencies across ten prioritized entry-level positions under the project: production assistant, scouter, camera assistant, lighting assistant, grip assistant, video assist, sound assistant, art assistant, wardrobe assistant, and makeup assistant.
As part of the actions within the Sandbox Audiovisual, there is also a focus on identifying opportunities to engage with local production companies and expand future employment prospects.
Lights, Camera and Action…Roll!
The program progresses through four phases named Lights On!, Camera Ready!, Action!, and Roll!
How did the young generation respond to the call to take part in the Sandbox project?
In the initial ‘Lights!’ phase, the Sandbox created a two-day immersive and motivational space. hrough a series of insightful talks and engaging individual and group challenges, young participants were introduced to the captivating realm of the audiovisual industry. This initial phase, which commenced in February 2023, remarkably showcased the enthusiastic response from the youth toward the sector. It also highlighted a fervent demand for training programs that are attuned to the distinctive needs of the most marginalized communities across the country.
During the application process, we received an astounding 7,565 submissions from the six prioritized departments: Chocó, La Guajira, Putumayo, Sucre, Cauca, and Cundinamarca. The response surpassed our expectations by an incredible 500%.
Furthermore, within this expansive pool of applicants, 17% come from indigenous backgrounds, while 22% belong to Afro-Colombian communities. Additionally, 8.4% of the participants identify as LGBTQ+, 8.6% are part of displaced populations, and 15% are young individuals affected by armed conflict.
‘Camera!’: Unfolding the Second Phase of the Project
In the ‘Camera!’ phase, young participants gained access to intensive courses meticulously crafted by industry experts. These courses aimed to furnish them with the technical elements and knowledge essential for mastering the skills required in each of the designated entry-level positions handpicked by the project. This phase took place between July 10 and July 23, 2023. Upon its conclusion, the top-performing 100 young individuals were chosen to advance in their training journey.
Looking Forward: The Next Steps of the Audiovisual Sandbox
In Phase 3 of the project, aptly named ‘Action!’, the selected 100 young individuals will proceed with a hands-on, two-week training program at Congo Films. Subsequently, they will have the privilege of a two-week internship, both with Netflix productions and local ventures. This process has garnered attention from various production companies, with a notable eagerness to participate as training partners throughout the project. In fact, there are presently 41 interested parties, and over 70 openings have been identified for project beneficiaries.
Lastly, in Phase 4, dubbed ‘Roll!’, these 100 young participants will engage in a mentorship program alongside industry leaders. These mentors will guide and support them in further enhancing their educational and professional journeys, connecting them with opportunities within the industry.
Through the Sandbox Audipovisual, the IDB is firmly committed to nurturing the growth of Colombia’s audiovisual industry, serving as a cornerstone in our strategy for inclusive territorial development and socioeconomic progress. We believe in a fresh generation of public policies geared towards propelling sectors with substantial potential to shape the lives of upcoming generations.
To delve deeper into the Audiovisual Sandbox project, keep an eye out for our upcoming blog entries. We’ll be delving into the accomplishments of each phase, offering you a comprehensive view.
Curious to learn more about how we’re promoting 21st-century skills across Latin America and the Caribbean? In this blog, we share our perspective on the future of the entertainment industry, which hinges on skills, creative talent, and the diversity of voices.
Click here to download the full report (https://publications.iadb.org/en/behind-camera-creativity-and-investment-latin-america-and-caribbean-learnings-conversations-key)
“Behind the Camera: Creativity and Investment for Latin America and the Caribbean: Learnings from Conversations with Key Players in the Audiovisual Sector” is a collaborative publication by the IDB and Netflix. It delves into the opportunities and challenges that the audiovisual industry encounters in Latin America and the Caribbean while also discussing ways to promote creativity and investment within this sector.