New B.C. creative industries support gets lukewarm reception

The three-part BC Creative Futures includes the launch of Creative B.C., a non-profit society which will get $1 million from the province for research, development and international marketing.
10-24-11BritishColumbia_watpeace

B.C.’s minister of community, sport and cultural development Bill Bennett announced Thursday the launch of B.C. Creative Futures, a three-part strategy to sustain the province’s creative sector.

But the plan was quickly criticized in some quarters as being not robust enough to meaningfully help the film and TV production industry.

The long-term plan is being put in place to support B.C.’s economy by boosting arts opportunities for young people, supporting growth of its creative industries and expanding capacity at Vancouver’s Emily Carr University of Art + Design.

Set to bolster the province’s film, TV and digital media sectors, the newly-created Creative B.C. will get $1 million from the ministry for research, development and international marketing.

Creative B.C., set to begin operations in April, is to be an independent, non-profit society that will work with both the government and the creative industries in new partnerships.

“We are pleased the B.C. government recognizes the importance of the creative industries in the province’s economic mix. Our 30 years of success in motion picture production is the cornerstone of a $4-billion creative economy that employs more than 85,000 people. We are poised for even greater success with a creative industries strategy moving us forward in the global economy,” said Motion Picture Production Industry Association of B.C. chairman Peter Leitch in a statement.

The BC Creative Futures plan also includes a $6.25 million package of programs from the ministry and the B.C. Arts Council, including $2 million towards creative youth initiatives. And the expansion at Emily Carr, the strategy’s third prong and an up to $113 million investment as part of the B.C. Jobs Plan, will build a new visual, media and design facility at the university.

The news follows industry blowback in recent weeks over the government’s BC Jobs Plan, and the industry rallying for more tax incentives that are more competitive with those of provinces like Ontario and Montreal.

Criticism

But Thursday’s announcement fell flat with many of the province’s film and TV professionals, who were not convinced that the strategy addresses the industry’s current struggles, and added the focus on youth will be useless if there’s no industry in which they can earn a living.

Others took to Facebook, posting in the Save BC Film and We Create BC groups, asking where the plan is to secure the future of the industry for the people who already work within it.

Bennett, according to reports from the Vancouver Sun and The Province, stuck to the idea that boosting tax credits is not the answer, but said that the plan is in place to find other solutions to help the industry.

Still, some industry execs were optimistic that the strategy is a step in the right direction.

“Though it may not have been the announcement many in B.C.’s film industry were hoping for, it is a step in the right direction, one that the industry has being asking B.C. to take for years, ” said MPPIA board member Garin Josey, in an emailed statement to Playback.

Josey, who is also William F. White VP/GM Vancouver and assistant chief operating officer, added: “By merging BC Film+Media and the BC Film Commission under one roof, the newly announced Creative B.C. will streamline many aspects of film and television production while also allowing for collaboration between numerous creative industries such as digital media, music and publishing. Creative B.C. will serve to benefit both the service and domestic sectors of production and is similar to what is currently in place in competing jurisdictions, both here in Canada and around the world.”

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