By Jack Egan
Everybody knows that entertainment represents a huge portion of the economies of Los Angeles and California. But just how big is big? Is it expanding or contracting? What exactly constitutes the entertainment biz?
And, most important for the below-the-line community, is the number of entertainment industry jobs growing or shrinking?
To more precisely answer such questions there’s a new organization, the Entertainment Economy Institute, launched mid November to quantify the size, scope and makeup of employment and production activities of “Hollywood” and related industries throughout the state.
Launching EEI is Kathleen Milnes, who until recently was senior VP for workforce and economic development at the Economic Industry Development Council, where she had started accumulating some of the info that will now get released in a more comprehensive form.
“The data on this industry is terrible and has been terrible for years,” Milnes told Below the Line. “Much of what passes for facts is people tossing around anecdotes.”
EEI’s mission is to “provide good information for public policy people to make decisions about tax incentives and other types of programs to attract the entertainment industry, to help education and training providers find out where the jobs are being created, and [to allow] the industry to see where it’s growing and where it’s contracting.”
First up is a study set to be released in mid December on the number of people employed in and the number of companies somehow involved in the entertainment business from 1991 to 2002, quarter by quarter. Improved mining of data has added 150,000 more workers and 4,000 more firms to the statistics, according to Milnes, because the EEI is taking an expanded look at independent contractors to the production community. “It’s a big part of the industry that previously hadn’t been measured,” she noted.
Funding for the initial research came from a $742,000 grant from the Governor’s discretionary Workforce Investment Act funds. The grant has been renewed at a somewhat lower level this year, said Milnes. She has been meeting with reps from studios and Hollywood locals looking for other funding sources.
The chair of The Entertainment Economy Institute advisory board is Jaleesa Hazzard, executive director, Workplace Hollywood. The vice chair is John Connolly, president of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists.
Other members of the advisory board are John Hughes, president, Rhythm and Hues Studios; Jack Kyser, senior VP and chief economist, Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation; Royston Thomas, associate dean, Los Angeles Community College District; Deborah Brooks, president, Workforce LA; and Fred Muir, principal, Fred Muir & Associates Strategic Public Relations.
By Jack Egan