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OPEN DOORS - Embracing The Culture Shift: A New Initiative Takes Aim At Bias In Storytelling

Posted By Lydia Dean Pilcher & Rachel Watanabe-Batton, Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The PGA’s Women’s Impact Network (WIN) in association with the PGA Diversity Committee, in partnership with the highly acclaimed Perception Institute, is undertaking a major national project—CultureSHIFT: Creating Content Toward an Inclusive World. Together we will explore the dynamics involved in culture and storytelling and work to create a new resource for content creators, institutions, studios and networks to better understand and counter explicit, implicit, systemic and unconscious bias in content.  

CultureSHIFT seeks to build upon the success of PGA WIN’s first initiative, The Ms. Factor Toolkit: The Power of Female Driven Content, a valuable online resource for filmmakers and organizations, which goes beyond advocacy for the pro-social value of female-driven and diverse content, arguing for its significant financial and commercial value as well. Those arguments continue to be proven every day in the pudding of data available, thanks to the rapid ascendance of digital age metrics.

PGA WIN Chair and Co-Founder of CultureSHIFT Lydia Dean Pilcher states that, “In order to progress on a wide range of issues including gender, race, country of origin, class, age, sexual orientation, physical and neuro diversity, we seek to create interventions and develop strategies to disrupt the cycle of bias and harm. Our goal is to ultimately show how ’inclusive‘ content can expand our reach to viewers by connecting with undervalued audiences via multi-dimensional characters and strengthening authenticity by considering the perspectives we include in the creation, collaborations, and execution of our storytelling.”

The United States continues to climb its long curve of shifting demographics toward a non-white majority population within the next few decades. This, alongside a dramatic continued growth in the economic power of women, represents a sea change in the dynamics of the cultural forces at play. Storytellers need an audience. Our mandate is to embrace the global and national demographic changes in progress. (Millennials already represent a third of the U.S. population; 40% are diverse and 51% are women.) How can we help pave the way to tell a new story of America where a profound understanding of our differences can stimulate deeper awareness and understanding for society as a whole?

The work of CultureSHIFT will be undertaken through the lens of our experiences as producers. As CultureSHIFT member and PGA East Diversity Chair Rachel Watanabe-Batton asserts, “A true culture shift can occur only when we understand and acknowledge historical discrimination and pervasive stereotypes and narratives, which often pass as truth.”  Member Vassiliki Khonsari adds, “The approach of CultureSHIFT is the future direction for content—something you need to exercise, something that is active, something you gain. There is a critical and timely nature to this moment of our inspiring the industry to be more accountable.”

Tags:  open doors 

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