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Bayview Hunters Point Center for Arts and Technology celebrates 15 years of advocating for increased minority representation in media

 

Bayview Hunters Point Center for Arts and Technology (BAYCAT) students at YouTube headquarters in 2016. Photo by Nadia Andreini.

 

One of the early adopters of the Manchester Bidwell educational model celebrated 15 years of forging the future. The Bayview Hunters Point Center for Arts and Technology (BAYCAT) has been helping end racism and sexism through storytelling.

When the educational model is replicated in cities around the world, the National Center for Arts and Technology makes it a point to not bring Pittsburgh to another city but for each city to provide the services their community needs as long as the same foundational principles are installed. That is why no replication sites are the same but all work towards the same goal.

BAYCAT is no different as its offerings are different than any other replication site. Their academy provides free, after school digital media education to low-income minority students ages 11–17. Their studio is the professional arm that provides socially driven storytelling work for large clients like the NBA’s Golden State Warriors, the National Parks Service, Salesforce, Pixar, and more. The BAYCAT studio trains and hires young, diverse interns ages 18–25 and then helps them find jobs at large companies and institutions.

In the past 15 years, BAYCAT has had 4,250 students go through their academy and has helped launch more than 225 careers in filmmaking and storytelling.

BAYCAT is focused on proving that representation in media matters. Only 12.6 percent of film directors are people of color while being 40 percent of the population. One reason for this gap is that most minority creatives can’t afford the expensive technology and schools to learn the skills needed in the industry. BAYCAT offers professional-standard tools and resources for filmmaking and graphic arts to its students for free. Seventy-eight percent of BAYCAT graduates are people of color and 58 percent are women.

Eighty-two percent of BAYCAT graduates have been hired by major companies. Iman

BAYCAT graduate Iman Rodney who is an Emmy-winning cinematographer for the San Francisco Giants. Photo courtesy of BAYCAT.

Rodney started at BAYCAT at 13 years old as part of their free youth program and would continue there for four years. At 19, Rodney was hired part-time to work on a documentary for BAYCAT’s studio and eventually joined BAYCAT’s paid internship program. At 21, Rodney was hired by MLB’s San Francisco Giants’ broadcast team as an intern later working up to videographer and finally being promoted to his dream job of cinematographer. At 25, Rodney won his first Emmy award for “We Are Giants” and won two more Emmys the following year.

In the span of 12 years, Rodney went from being a teenager with asthma due to living in a home in a toxic waste dump in one of San Francisco’s poorest neighborhoods and not having access to computers, tablets, or smart phones to an Emmy-winning cinematographer due to his time at BAYCAT.

Over the next 15 years, BAYCAT wants to prove that when everyone sees themselves represented the world can be more beautiful.