Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, who also serves as the president of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA), has thrown his weight behind a range of new schemes to support up-and-coming talent.
During the Duke’s visit to the recently redeveloped BAFTA headquarters at 195 Piccadilly in London on Thursday, the organization unveiled plans for the Prince William BAFTA Bursary fund, aimed at talented individuals who, due to financial reasons, would otherwise not be able to pursue careers in the screen industries.
This year, Elevate, BAFTA’s year-long industry support and activity program, will open to scripted and non-scripted producers working in film and television who are disabled, from minority ethnic backgrounds and from low-socioeconomic backgrounds.
In addition, BAFTA also revealed Connect, a new discounted tier of membership for emerging and mid-level professionals who will be able to access BAFTA’s membership benefits at an earlier career stage. Connect is essentially a rebranded version of BAFTA Crew, a year-round development program for emerging and mid-level creatives, but with the added incentive of BAFTA membership.
The schemes are developed based on BAFTA’s ongoing research with industry practitioners from under-represented groups on the barriers to progression in the screen industries.
During his visit, the Duke met with BAFTA career development grant recipients and played a game created by Young Game Designers competition finalist, Harry Petch. He also discussed mentoring support with BAFTA mentors, BAFTA winning “Vigil” actor Suranne Jones and BBC presenter Annie Price (2018 BAFTA Breakthrough), and their mentees Lily Blunsom-Washbrook and Roxanne McKenzie.
Prince William said: “I am hugely proud of BAFTA’s ongoing commitment to ensuring that young talent from all walks of life are given every possible opportunity to build and develop successful careers in the film, games and television industries. The redevelopment of 195 Piccadilly has created fantastic new learning spaces to ensure that future generations can receive the support they need to thrive.”
BAFTA chief executive Amanda Berry said: “Our talent development programs enable those from under-represented groups to access BAFTA’s extensive network of industry professionals to aid their career progression, while our bursaries and scholarships provide vital financial support for recipients who otherwise would not consider a career in film, games or television.”
BAFTA chair Krishnendu Majumdar added: “As we kick start the year of BAFTA’s 75th anniversary I’m excited for what BAFTA will be able to accomplish over the next 12 months. Not only because we are able to reopen our home at 195 Piccadilly, which has doubled in size and capacity, but because it will enable us to inspire and support more talented people and showcase the impact BAFTA’s charitable work has on so many people across the U.K. and globally.”
Jones added: “A lot of young people in creative fields who don’t have family connections in the industry don’t know where to turn for help or advice and I resonate with their stories in that sense. Behind the scenes and beyond the awards, there is a lot of good work being done to level the playing field for creatives from all walks of life and I’m delighted to play my part in my role as a BAFTA mentor.”