Federal film fund cuts spark anxiety

The federal Conservative government didn’t consult the film and arts communities before it decided to slash funding for various cultural programs, according to a Vancouver-based executive of the Canadian Film and Television Production Association.

Tracey Wood, vice president of the CFTPA’s B.C. producers’ branch, told the Straight that the move has caused “a little bit of apprehension about future cuts” to other arts and cultural programs.

“It seems odd unless they’re catering to another segment that they’re hoping to please,” Wood said in a phone interview. “I don’t know why they would do it.”

A media release issued jointly by the CFTPA and the Association des producteurs de films et de télévision du Québec noted that the government “quietly announced” on August 8 a total of $18 million in funding cuts as of March 31, 2009, for the Audio-Visual Preservation Trust ($300,000), the Canadian Independent Film and Video Fund ($1.5 million), the National Training Schools Program ($2.5 million), PromArt ($4.7 million), and Trade Routes ($9 million).

The CFTPA represents about 400 film, television, and interactive media companies across the country.

“Obviously, it’s a disappointment because these are important programs to our membership,” Wood said, summarizing the CFTPA’s reaction to the decision. “Any time a program is cut, it means it’s going to impact on the ability of producers to do business and attract business to Canada.”

The Straight sought an official explanation from the Department of Canadian Heritage through its regional media office, but no statement was given by deadline.

“Our organization has already requested a meeting with [Canadian] Heritage to talk about the possibility that they would reconsider,” Wood said.