The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced the next phase of its equity and inclusion initiative, Academy Aperture 2025, on Friday (June 12). This phased initiative will further the Academy’s efforts to increase representation within its membership and in the greater film community.
“While the Academy has made strides, we know there is much more work to be done in order to ensure equitable opportunities across the board,” Academy CEO Dawn Hudson said in a statement. “The need to address this issue is urgent. To that end, we will amend—and continue to examine—our rules and procedures to ensure that all voices are heard and celebrated.”
Academy President David Rubin added: “Academy leadership and our board are committed to ensuring that we continue to weave equity and inclusion into the fabric of every Academy initiative, committee, program and event.”
Here are 10 specific plans the Academy announced:
1/Best picture category to be set at 10 nominees: Beginning with the 94th Academy Awards (2021), the best picture category will be set at 10 nominees, rather than a fluctuating number of nominations from year to year. Since the category expansion in 2009, it has had 10 nominees twice, nine nominees six times and eight nominees three times.
2/Enable Academy members to view films year-round: The Academy will implement a quarterly viewing process through the Academy Screening Room, the streaming site for Academy members, starting with the 94th Academy Awards. By making it possible for members to view films released year-round, the Academy hopes to broaden each film’s exposure, level the playing field, and ensure all eligible films can be seen by voting members.
3/New representation and inclusion standards for Oscars eligibility: To ensure more diverse representation, the Academy will create a task force of industry leaders to develop and implement new representation and inclusion standards for Oscars eligibility by July 31. Eligibility for films in consideration for the 93rd Academy Awards (2020) will not be impacted.
The Academy notes that this effort is in collaboration with the Producers Guild of America. It adds that the task force will be appointed by Rubin and will include governor and A2020 Committee chair DeVon Franklin.
4/Expand participation in unconscious bias training: In January, the current board of governors participated in unconscious bias training. Moving forward, this training will be mandatory for all Academy governors, branch executive committee members and Academy staff on an annual basis. All 9,000 plus members of the Academy will be offered an opportunity to participate in training as well.
5/Stiffen term limits on board of governors: The board of governors passed a resolution to amend the Academy bylaws to enact maximum governor term limits. Once the amendment takes effect, governors will be allowed to serve on the board for up to two three-year terms (consecutive or non-consecutive), followed by a two-year hiatus, after which eligibility renews for up to two additional three-year terms, for a lifetime maximum of 12 years. The previous limit was three consecutive three-year terms, with a one-year hiatus, and no lifetime maximum.
These term limits affect newly elected governors starting with the 2020-21 board term, as well as sitting governors returning for 2020-21 in their first or second term. Those returning governors in their third term during 2020-21 will be allowed to complete their nine-year service, before an obligatory two-year hiatus, after which eligibility renews for one additional and final three-year term, for a maximum of 12 years. For governors who have already served multiple terms exceeding 12 years, they will be limited to one additional term. Branch executive committees will also have a term limit of six years and a two-year hiatus, with a maximum of 12 years.
6/Host a series of panels, including one hosted by Whoopi Goldberg: The Academy will host a series of panels called “Academy Dialogue: It Starts with Us” for members and the public, with conversations about race, ethnicity, history, opportunity, and the art of filmmaking. Programs will include a conversation hosted by Oscar-winner and Academy governor Whoopi Goldberg on the lasting impact of racist tropes and harmful stereotypes in Hollywood films. The Academy will also present conversations on the systemic changes that need to occur in areas such as casting, screenwriting, producing, directing, financing and greenlighting of movies in order to afford opportunities to women and people of color.
7The long-planned Academy Museum of Motion Pictures is also on board: The Academy Museum is committed to building an anti-racist, inclusive organization that will contextualize and challenge dominant narratives around cinema, and build authentic relationships with diverse communities. The Academy Museum will also create spaces that highlight and prioritize the experience of traditionally underrepresented or marginalized people while advancing the understanding, celebration, preservation, and accessibility of movies through its business practices, exhibitions, screenings, programs, initiatives, and collections.
The museum will work in active partnership with the recently expanded Inclusion Advisory Committee, comprising more than 20 filmmakers and executives, to help develop public programs, exhibitions, and collections that confront racism, champion the work of diverse artists, and expose historical omissions.
8/Increase efforts at workplace culture: The Academy will establish an office of representation, inclusion and equity to oversee the Aperture 2025 initiative and work with the board of governors, Academy staff and experts to ensure the implementation of best practices and accountability throughout the organization. The office will be led by Academy COO Christine Simmons, in partnership with Lorenza Muñoz, managing director, member relations and awards, who will continue to oversee external-facing membership and awards initiatives and global outreach.
9/Employee Resource Groups created: All staff at the Academy, Margaret Herrick Library, Academy Film Archive and Academy Museum will have access to newly created Employee Resource Groups (ERG) to foster diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace and beyond.
10/Make a special effort to serve underserved communities in Academy Grants Program: The Academy’s FilmCraft and FilmWatch grants were established to identify and empower future filmmakers, cultivate new and diverse talent, promote motion pictures as an art form, and provide a platform or underrepresented artists. Earlier this year, the Academy donated an additional $2 million in funds to 96 organizations that support filmmakers and reach audiences from underserved communities.
Next month, the Academy will announce new members invited to join the organization, part of its efforts to increase representation within its membership.