Creating an Arts & Entertainment Worker Resource Center in New York City

The goal of the Arts & Entertainment Worker Resource Center (WRC) is to help the thousands of early career workers in the NYC arts, entertainment, fashion and media industries build sustainable careers in the context of our rapidly changing work environment. We will create a space where workers will form community, access vital information and resources, develop skills, identify common challenges and issues and create strategies for addressing them. We will assist and advocate for all workers, particularly those who face barriers based on ethnicity, race, class, sexual orientation, ability, gender, and gender identity. If you are interested in getting involved with this project, send us an email at

To learn more about the plans and goals of the A&E Worker Resource Center (WRC), view this presentation:


About the Project

WHAT WILL THE WRC LOOK LIKE? The WRC will be a virtual resource center in its earliest phase, with a dynamic, multi-service website, and a user friendly app that will facilitate networking, sharing information and accessing resources.  Young workers will find information about their legal rights as workers, what they can and should expect from employers, the structure of the industry, and opportunities for work, fellowships, internships, and mentoring.  They will receive and share information about fiscal sponsors, arts funding resources, and rehearsal and performance spaces for their projects.

They’ll be referred to legal support and connected to resources for housing, health insurance, healthcare, and student loan repayment assistance. They’ll generate and benefit from crowdsourced reviews of A&E related businesses and services.  They’ll identify common challenges and issues, and create strategies for addressing them. And they’ll be provided with information about the benefits of union representation and how to connect to the industry’s unions. 

Using social media to attract and engage with the young workers we intend to serve, the WRC will develop and expand over time.  After the initial launch of our virtual resources, we will begin providing programs and seminars for career development and to help workers survive and thrive.  These programs will be delivered in both online and face-to-face formats.  As the WRC becomes better known and more young workers use its services and provide input on what they need, we will build out the online resources, expand our programming and provide more opportunities for networking.

In addition to providing vital information and resources, the WRC will add its voice to those of other advocates for the arts in support of public policies benefiting the A&E workforce and the development of a rich cultural environment for all New Yorkers. We will connect with a broad community of A&E workers and help address issues of gender and ethnic diversity that are ongoing concerns for those who are committed to creating a cultural landscape that reflects the reality and the diverse population of New York City.

HOW WILL THE WRC BE STRUCTURED?   Currently the WRC is a project of the Worker Institute at Cornell ILR.  Within the year, the WRC should be a stand-alone entity with its own 501c(3) status.  We have a Steering Committee consisting of representatives from organizations that have signed on as “partners,” which means they endorse the idea of a WRC, are willing to have us use their name in promoting and raising money for it, and are committed to participating in its planning.  There is a larger Advisory Committee of individuals and organizations that are interested in being involved in the WRC, but are not yet ready to sign on as full partners. We are also in the process of assembling a Young Worker Advisory Committee made up of early career workers who will provide perspective and input as we develop the WRC.

HOW IS IT BEING FUNDED?  The idea for the WRC came out of the Arts and Entertainment Project of the Worker Institute.  This project was originally a partnership between the Worker Institute at Cornell ILR and the State AFL-CIO Arts and Entertainment Committee.  The project has been funded by the NY State Legislature by a grant administered by the NY Department of Labor.  We are in the process of applying for funding from the city, the state and from foundations, and are hopeful that we will raise seed money to launch the WRC. 

WHAT IS THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE WRC AND THE A&E UNIONS?  There are a number of unions already partnering with us on this project, and we hope to include more unions as partners as we move forward.  The WRC will be a trustworthy access point for young workers to find out about A&E unions. We’ll provide information about the advantages unions provide and direct workers to the unions that cover the jurisdictions in which they work.  The WRC is NOT a substitute, or a competitor in any way, for a union.  If a worker wants to organize her workplace, we will direct her to the union that organizes that constituency.   Any information we provide on the WRC website or in other materials about a specific union will be information provided to us by that particular union.  Our core commitment is to collective voice for all A&E workers.

WANT TO BE INVOLVED?  We want as many A&E unions and organizations as possible to sign on as “partners” in the A&E WRC.  Partner organizations will endorse the WRC, allow us to use their name in promoting and raising money for it, and commit to participating in its planning by having a representative on the WRC Steering Committee.  Having a robust set of partners from all areas of the arts, entertainment and media industries is crucial to the development of a relevant, impactful WRC and will be helpful in our efforts to secure funding. If your organization is interested in being a partner, contact us at

If you’re a worker just starting out in the arts, entertainment, fashion or media industries, and you’d like to give us your perspective and input, please send us an email with your contact information and we’ll be in touch!


A&E Worker Resource Center: Mission (PDF)

Remarks by Sally Alvarez at NYC Department of Consumer Affairs Hearing - March 6, 2017 (PDF)