Heritage Minister seeks participants for Canada's first creative industries mission to China

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      Minister of Canadian Heritage Mélanie Joly made an appearance at the Vancouver International Film Festival (VIFF) today (October 5) at the Vancouver International Film Centre where she made an announcement about a forthcoming trade mission.

      Scheduled within the VIFF Industry Exchange program, Joly discussed her new Creative Canada approach to Canadian cultural industries.

      In her efforts to modernize Canadian approaches to culture, her announcement on September 28 of a $500-million deal with Netflix to create Canadian content has garnered much attention in Canada. (Further details about her explanation of that subject and more will be posted in a forthcoming article.)

      Yet while the Liberal government is addressing foreign platforms coming into the domestic market, Joly also spoke about how one of the three pillars to their new approach is to help domestic content reach international markets.

      She stated that the federal government will be "investing in making sure that our own creators are strong abroad".

      In response to requests for more coproductions, Joly said that she is working to modernize coproduction treaties; has already done so with China, Ireland, Luxembourg, and New Zealand; and seeks to develop more. She added that Canada has become the first non-European country to become a part of the European Cinema Support Fund (Eurimage) and the government has invested $2.5 million to ensure Telefilm can develop export strategy and market development for producers internationally.

      Joly explained that she has launched a cultural export strategy, is increasing the number of cultural trade commissioners as cultural diplomats to develop local markets, and is boosting participation at international fairs, such as the Frankfurt Book Fair in 2020 and the 2017 Gamescon video games convention in Cologne, Germany, where Canada was a partner country.

      The minister made the announcement that her department will be launching their first creative industries trade mission in April 2018, which will be to China.

      In January, Joly met with China's Minister of Culture Luo Shugang and signed an agreement for further collaboration. 

      "I really want to make sure that we actually are seizing the great opportunities that are happening in the Chinese market," she said, and spoke about the increased demand for content in China.

      Joly said that Chinese culture minister confirmed that an objective of the Chinese government is to increase the percentage of GDP in the creative sector from four to five percent.

      She pointed out that one new museum per day being opened in China and there are 38 performance halls in China. She said her department has already prepared an expert advisory committee in Shanghai for their visit. Shanghai and Beijing are two destinations that are expected to be part of the itinerary but are still to be confirmed.

      "We want to bring our creators there knowing very much that government support really helps open doors in China," she said of the trade mission.

      Consequently, their four main fields of focus will be film and audio-visual sectors, which includes animation and visual effects; video games, virtual reality, and augmented reality; museums and design, including digital content for public creative spaces; and the performing arts.

      Anyone from these fields interested in participating in the trade mission can visit the Department of Canadian Heritage webpage. The deadline for an expression of interest is November 13.

      While in Vancouver today, Joly will also be meeting with Consul General of Canada in Shanghai Weldon Epp, speaking at the Directors Guild of Canada reception, and delivering a speech at the VIFF screening of Alanis Obomsawin's documentary Our People Will Be Healed at Vancity Theatre.

      You can follow Craig Takeuchi on Twitter at @cinecraig or on Facebook.