On the eve of a major announcement about the future of Canadian cultural policy, a parade of homegrown performers, producers and creators were in the Sir John A. Macdonald building across Wellington Street from the Centre Block underlining the variety of the stories we tell to the world via screens of all sorts.
Thousands of jobs are filled in Canada’s $48 billion cultural sector. The artists, gathered by the Canada Media Fund and which featured artists from such productions as Kim’s Convenience, Mohawk Girls, Heavy Rescue 401, Vikings, Murdoch Mysteries, Private Eyes, L’imposteur, Les pays d’en haut, Trinity and We Happy Few, were greeted by Heritage minister Melanie Joly.
Joly will outline her vision of a transformed culture policy for Canada in a speech in Ottawa.
There have been reports about what is in the speech including, as CBC noted Wednesday evening, a $500 million creation fund set up by the internet streaming service Netflix.
Other reports suggest there will be no tax changes. There had been speculation that firms such as Netflix might be hit with a levy.
There is also expected to be a reiteration of the call to review of the Broadcasting Act and Telecommunications Act promised in the last budget. The Canadian Press has reported that Joly’s speech will feature three themes: investing in creators, helping their content get discovered and distributed and the future of public broadcasting. There likely will also be a funding boost for film, television and music producers.
The president of the Canadian Media Fund, Valerie Creighton, said in an interview that the challenge The challenge for Canada is “how do we ensure that our stellar creators and our stories and our identity become one of the options as consumers search for content digitally now.”
The passive couch potato consumer just lying around waiting for a TV show is an endangered species. Much as people are putting together their own music lineups, they are also now doing the same for television, internet and film content.
“The purpose of the fund is to drive innovation and have content that can resonate around the world and enhance Canada’s reputation,” Creighton said.
“We are responding to what the market is looking for in terms of content. We are no longer in the day where people are confined by borders or geography, we have a tsunami of content available to consumers who can access it at a click of a few buttons.”
She says cultural industries need from the federal government “an openness to supporting an environment in which Canadian creators and producers in the broadcast sector and the distribution sector, all of the elements within the system we have built, can continue to produce content and can get it to international markets.
That will mean government funding for creation.
“Part of the problem we have in Canada is that we are a small country of 33 million people. We can’t produce content at the level of U.S. … the largest entertainment conglomerate in world.”
While the kinds of content rules that built the music industry may be dated, she cautions against “throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Canadian content rules built the industry we have today.
“It’s not just a case of regulate or not regulate. (That said) I’m not an advocate for holding onto the past. We have to embrace what is happening around us and the options that consumers have.”