First published in the July 9 print issue of the Burbank Leader.
By Peggy Flynn
Special to the Burbank Leader
A crowd of more than 400 gathered recently at Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank to kick off the annual California Department of Education’s Arts, Media, & Entertainment Institute with a four-day event.
Burbank Unified School District co-hosted the conference with the CDE, with support from Visit Burbank, Warner Bros. Discovery, Woodbury University, Los Angeles City College and 15 additional industry sponsors.
The 2022 AMEI marked the 8th annual event and was the first to take place in Burbank, beginning June 21. The live, professional conference was designed to provide arts, media and entertainment industry leaders, tech innovators, funders, educators and policy makers with networking experiences, resources and training that will ensure California’s next generation workforce is prepared to successfully enter the creative industry sector.
The program’s course provided attendees with unprecedented access to industry facilities, professionals and tech trainings from every aspect of the industry sector — one of the top three revenue-generating industries in California that employs more than 2.5 million people statewide.
“We are so appreciative of the Burbank Unified School District, and all the programing partners and sponsors that are coming together, to make this year’s AME Institute an incredible experience for educators,” said Allison Frenzel, AME Arts lead from the California Department of Education. “As someone who loves interactive learning, this year’s institute offered deeper, industry-connected learning opportunities than the traditional education conference model of the past.”
Warner Bros. Discovery kicked off the AMEI in the studio’s Steven J. Ross Theater, where state Sen. Ben Allan explained that his Senate Bill 628, Creative Workforce Development Act of 2021, helps embed creative workforce development into a state policy program to promote employment with job training programs for aspiring creative workers. He continued to encourage advocating for a proposed $1 billion block grant allocation for schools in the final state budget.
The senator’s remarks were followed by examples of the industrywide support for career technical education. A candid conversation between Frenzel, Executive Vice President of Worldwide Operations for Warner Bros. Discovery Dan Dark and a panel of executives from Riot Games, Snap Inc., Warner Bros. Discovery and Blevity provided the audience with details of each company’s investments and the reasoning behind them.
When asked why Warner Bros. wanted to support the AMEI, Sally Chan, vice president of community engagement for Warner Bros. Discovery, explained, “Warner Bros. Discovery has had a long history of supporting arts education. We wanted to partner with [BUSD] and the California Department of Education for the AME Institute to continue promoting ways we can support both teachers and students and provide the tools and resources necessary to develop the next generation of storytellers.”
Teachers attended sessions on everything from grant funding and curriculum design, to guiding students through transitioning from high school pathway programs to community college and university degree programs.
Sessions provided by industry insiders included the “do’s and don’ts” of internship and job applications, elements of the production pipeline and technical skills training that meet current and projected workforce needs.
Tours of the Make Up Designory (MUD), Dolby, IATSE Local 80, The Fab Factory sound studio, Apartment D stop-motion animation studio, the Hip Hop Education Center and the newly reimagined Warner Bros. Studio Tour Center provided AMEI attendees with behind-the-scenes access to state-of-the-art work being done in film, television and recording production.
A top priority for the state CDE is ensuring the next generation AME workforce is prepared to meet and exceed projected industry needs. The AME Institute is the largest annual professional convening of AME educators and industry professionals in the state and is the only professional learning event dedicated solely to AME Career Technical Education in the country.
Flynn is the Arts and Career Technical Education Coordinator for Burbank Unified School District.