B.C. producers urge province to follow Ontario to stay competitive

A consortium, including the Canadian Media Production Association, urged Victoria to develop a creative clusters strategy overseen by an umbrella agency like the Ontario Media Development Corp. to sustain growth in a converged digital world.

A consortium of British Columbia content creators on Thursday urged their provincial government to follow Ontario and its creative clusters strategy when designing policies and subsidies to stay ahead of the digital curve.

“The current ad hoc nature of programs and funding in B.C. for the creative industries limits the sector in achieving its full potential,” the media creators, including the B.C. branch of the Canadian Media Production Association, said in a 40-page report prepared by Suebee Media Consulting.

“A more holistic approach, using the synergies of the creative cluster working in partnership and under the leadership of the provincial government, will result in a successful strategy for the sector and the province,” the report, entitled “From the Margins to the Mainstream,” stated.

The release of the report was accompanied Thursday by a press conference in Vancouver to be attended by Vancouver-based comic and indie producer Brent Butt, and Liz Shorten, managing VP of the CMPA.

The content creators, including Music B.C., Magazine Association of B.C. and the Association of Book Publishers of B.C., in the report argued current B.C. media policy has different creative industries working in silos.

The Vancouver-based associations urged the B.C. government to follow Ontario and that the province’s embrace of creative clusters in a converged world – book and magazine publishing, film and television, interactive digital media, music, performing arts, radio, advertising, architecture and design – under the umbrella control and support of the Ontario Media Development Corp.

“An umbrella organization will contain the necessary expertise to develop a cross-sectoral plan and will work with the creative industries individually and as a group to foster growth and strengthen the creative cluster,” the report argued.

On the film and TV production front, the content creators noted in their report a strong foreign presence in British Columbia, while domestic production was falling and in need of support.

“Domestic production is the key to maintaining a sustainable industry given fluctuating foreign production levels,” the report said.

“Competition from other Canadian jurisdictions with more advantageous tax credit systems, as well as a lack of provincial seed capital and production funding has greatly impacted the sector,” the report added, noting more lucrative 25% all-spend tax credits available to indie producers in Ontario and Quebec, causing a recent exodus of talent eastwards in Canada.