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Creative Industries in BC at Competitive Crossroad

April 26th, 2012

Vancouver, BC (April 26, 2012): If British Columbia’s creative industries are going to reach their full job-creating potential in the competitive years ahead, they need the creative equivalent and focus of the “Own the Podium” approach that earned Canada a record number of medals at the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

A report commissioned by a coalition of the province’s creative industries says a strategic approach to the future is needed – one that includes moving this $4 billion sector from the margins to the mainstream of economic and policy thinking, something that’s key to retaining British Columbia’s creative professionals, as well as their entrepreneurship and job-creating potential. Without it, the province risks losing its best talent to places such as Ontario and Quebec with their competitive tax credits, program funding and easier access to investment capital.

The 35-page report, titled From the Margins to the Mainstream: Moving BC’s Creative Industries Forward, points to Ontario, Quebec, Britain, Australia and Singapore as some of the jurisdictions that are working with their creative industries to develop the sector’s competitive potential. The report calls for a “public-private” partnership, a three-year strategy aimed at growing the creative sector, and the creation of a BC Media Development Corporation, similar to Ontario’s Media Development Corporation, as ways to make BC more competitive.

“BC’s creative industries are at a turning point,” said Margaret Reynolds, Executive Director, Association of Book Publishers of BC. “As a province, we need to recognize the incredible potential and capacity of our creative sector, as well as their ability to attract investment and produce jobs. At the same time, in this period of rapid technological change, producers of creative content have to keep current, or risk falling behind other jurisdictions. That means industry and government need to work even more closely together to sharpen our competitive edge.”

Jurisdictions such as Britain recognize the potential of the creative industries for “wealth and job creation through the generation and exploitation of intellectual property.” That definition, and the incorporation of creative industries into the country’s overall economic planning, gives the sector stature alongside more traditional industries such as manufacturing, natural resources, tourism and agriculture.

“In their recent Global Outlook report, PricewaterhouseCoopers recognized creative industries as some of the world’s most dynamic sectors, with spending on entertainment and media markets worth $1.5 trillion by 2015,” explained Liz Shorten, Managing Vice-President, Canadian Media Production Association (CMPA).

“Here at home, creative industries employ more than a million Canadians, including 22,000 who work in BC’s gaming, wireless and mobile technology industries, and another 20,000 in BC’s billion dollar film and television production industry. But in the end, we’re no different than any other industry sector. If we’re not competitive, the work will go somewhere else.”

“Clearly, BC has the talent,” noted Bob D’Eith, Executive Director, Music BC. “Our talent has never been the issue. But, today we’re certainly at a competitive crossroad with plenty of other jurisdictions eyeing our people. As a province we need industry and government to continue to work in partnership. Together, we need to ramp up our collective game, understanding that if we’re going to grow our creative industries, we have to be granted the same kind of policy attention that mining, forestry, fishing and agriculture receive.”

“Collectively, our individual creative sectors are both challenged and energized by the opportunities in front of us,” added Sylvia Skene, Executive Director, Magazine Association of BC. “BC’s universities, colleges and institutes are producing a strong and creative talent base, and our ability to apply innovation to content development is leading edge. However, to reach our full potential we need government and industry to work hand-in-hand to ensure our economic potential and talent stays right here in British Columbia.”

Margaret Reynolds on support for BC creative sector