Saturday, August 30, 2008

The creative arts community needs to wake up, now.

Harper’s new vision for the arts doesn’t include the new media either.

The Tories have just announced the cancellation of the Canada New Media Fund (CNMF).

The CMF is $14.5-million-a-year program designed to create and distribute Canadian interactive new media both domestically and internationally.

The objective of the fund that was administered by Telefilm Canada, was to further the development, production, marketing and distribution of high quality, original, interactive or on-line cultural content products.

Some examples of creative productions that were funded include:
  •, a Gemini award winning online community-style website that drew “100’s of thousands” of members and has been called a precursor of social networking giant MySpace. by GlassBOX. 
  • Race to Mars also an award winning interactive website by GlassBOX and the discovery Channel.
  •, the first TV show and website in American Sign Language for deaf children, which has also won numerous international awards.
Although predominantly centered in the our three largest cities the arts and cultural industries in Canada contribute 10 fold in return for the total investment by governments.

The federal government provides roughly 50% of the institutional funding to the creative arts and culture industries with the provinces picking up the rest.

From the recently released Conference Board of Canada report entitled Valuing Culture: Measuring and Understanding Canada’s Creative Economy who has gone into a great deal of detail outlining the size and economic impact of Canada's arts & culture industries we learn:
The economic contribution of the culture sector to Canada in 2007 was $84.6 billion, or 7.4 per cent of total real GDP, taking into account direct, indirect, and induced contributions.
Over a million people are employed directly or indirectly as a result of cultural economic activity in Canada.
With the CMF cut, the Tories can not site examples of a band named Fuck or the son of a rock being called upon to perform in Germany. This is the breeding ground for Canada's new media. What our kids see online.
“The younger generation are now consuming so much of their media online, and so much of that is being consumed at U.S. websites,” Mr. Khanna said.

“If Canadians want their kids to be consuming Canadian content online, this is the fund to spark innovation, to create jobs and to create a viable industry.

Without this fund, it's not going to exist, so this is huge.”
In typical Tory style there is no communication with the stakeholders in the industry. This is straight ideological changes to create their own narrow vision of Canada.
The New Media Fund was created by and figured prominently in the previous Liberal government's Tomorrow Starts Today program.
And the heads of the arts and culture associations should wake up up to this fact and quit sitting on the sidelines.

This government has no intent to re-install new creative funding.

Anything they fund in the future will come with a big price tag "Conservative Canadian values".

Reference: The Globe here and the Canada Council Report via pdf here.

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