A new agency will combine the programs of the B.C. Film Commission and B.C. Film + Media under one body tasked with overseeing the development and promotion of B.C.’s creative industries, the province announced today (January 31).
According to the B.C. Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development, the new agency called Creative B.C. will administer tax credits and provide production support for filmmakers and television producers. It will also work with industries such as digital media, music, and publishing to develop and implement a strategy for the creative sector. The province is providing $1 million to the independent agency.
Rob Gloor, the executive director of the Alliance for Arts and Culture, called today’s announcement a move in the right direction, but said “there’s a lot of work still to do". He noted the agency is something that has been requested by the creative industries “for some time”.
“The funding associated with the creation of that agency is still very modest,” he told the Straight by phone. “Essentially the $1 million that was added into that to accompany the formation of that agency is just sort of getting back to where the funding was for the B.C. Film Commission alone five years ago.”
As part of what the government is calling its “B.C. Creative Futures” plan, Minister Bill Bennett also announced $6.25 million for new and expanded programs through the B.C. Arts Council, including initiatives such as an after-school sport and arts initiative, a co-op placement program for students at local arts and culture organizations, and scholarships for post-secondary students studying the arts.
Gloor called the funding “good news” for the youth-oriented arts programs included in the funding increase. But he said his organization is still hoping to see further investment in operating grants distributed by the B.C. Arts Council.
“These are very specific programs that are needed, but there’s so much demand across the entire arts sector for the B.C. Arts Council’s existing operating programs,” he stated. “Today’s news is one good step, but there’s still a lot of further work to be done in general operating for arts organizations across the province that may be doing other very important work.”
Gloor noted the minister’s announcement today didn’t address concerns raised by the film and television sector about B.C.’s tax incentives for film production. Members of the industry have called for the province to increase rebates to be more competitive with Ontario and Quebec.
Bennett told the Straight in a phone interview earlier this week that the B.C. government has “no plans” to increase tax incentives for the sector in B.C.
“There’s a lot of discussion still to be had, and we look for more information from the government and from opposition on what their proposals would be to keep B.C.’s film sector competitive in Canada,” said Gloor.
Once the Creative B.C. agency begins operations in April, it will work with government and industry to develop a “five-year strategic plan” for the creative industries, and conduct a review of government support programs for the sector, according to the province.