Film-maker Wilfred Williams is a CETA graduate - a testimonial that the government program does provide training that leads to well-paying, permanent jobs.
Ten months ago, Williams said, he was a CETA arts management trainee making $9,500 a year. Today he earns what he calls a "satisfactory" $14,000 in a permanent, unsubsidized job as assistant director of Arts D.C., a local nonprofit agency dedicated to placing CETA participants and other artists in training programs that lead to permanent, unsubsized jobs.
The agency has 60 CETA arts trainees working in 36 local arts agencies, including the Capitol Ballet, the Museum of Alfrican Art and the Childrens Opera Theater.
This year, Williams said the center hopes to place half of its CETA artists in permanent positions. About 38 percent already have found permanent jobs, he added.
"One of our people got a $20,000-a-year job New York with a public relations firm," he offered as an example. The trainee had worked with the Washington Area Film-makers organization, and the director of a New York public relations firm had been impressed with the way the trainee had coordinated a Washington film festival, Williams said.
"A lot of stage technicians and actors are also being absorbed by different theaters."
As Williams pointed out the benefits of CETA, he chatted easily about his own lean years of employment, which he smilingly called his freelance period. That period ended one morning last October after he had read a newspaper article about city funding, through CETA programs, for unemployed artists.
Williams said he went to the unemployment office that afternoon and narrowly missed the program deadline for filing a CETA certification application. The next day he was interviewed by a prospective employer, and a few days later he began his CETA job at The Support Center, 1424 16th St, NW, as an arts management consultant to local arts groups.
"They had a CETA grant for three arts management consultants. We provided free consulting services to arts groups in the city," he said.
Information was provided about fundraising, arts management, taxes, accounting, public relations and various other issues, he said.
Williams said he worked with seven to 10 different arts groups handling most of the public relatios work. One of his groups was Arts D.C.When the agency learned its assistant director was leaving her job, Williams said, he was offered the position.
A native of Brooklyn, N.Y., Williams said he rapidly developed Potomac Fever when he came here to attend Howard University 10 years ago. In 1972 he was graduated with a B.A. from the School of Communications, and for several years, he said, he worked at local radio and television stations where he earned his 3rd Class FCC license and filmed various youth documentaries and television series.
He missses the film-making, he said, but "I've found it's important to get into the administrative end, too. I thought CETA was a very positive experience. It expanded my scope of skills, and should this job fall through I feel I'm better qualified to find other employment."