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Canadian culture is a hot international commodity
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Canadian culture is a hot international commodity

Written by
Valerie Creighton
Published by
St. Catharines Standard
on
January 1st, 2020

Canada’s cultural exports, from literature, music, to art, design and screen-based content are well poised to ignite the world’s imagination with our stories, our creativity and our innovation.

Canada's reputation is on a roll. The 2010 Olympics triggered a pride and collective consciousness that rallied our nationhood and took our country to the world. Now, as we close the decade, our brand is stronger than ever.

We're recognized not just for being nice and polite, but also for our secure banking system, our exports and our openness to the world. Our bold cultural goods are reaching new and growing audiences and are an economic driver in the digital age.

Canada's cultural exports, from literature, music, to art, design and screen-based content — which means everything we watch in movie theatres, TVs, smartphones, tablets or computers — are well poised to ignite the world's imagination with our stories, our creativity and our innovation.

A window of opportunity has opened. There is a growing national consensus on the advantages that these industries offer the country.

Canada's screen-based sector has a wealth of talent, both on and off-screen, that last year created 179,000 well-paid, full-time jobs across the country and added $12.8 billion to our GDP.

Investing in Canada's creative content is not just good cultural and economic policy, it's also an integral part of our public diplomacy efforts in an increasingly fragmented and polarized world. Creative content builds on Canada's strong brand value.

Despite the revolutionary changes going on in media, including the influx of foreign streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime — a massive shift that comes with both risks and opportunity — Canada's screen-based sector has demonstrated success.

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Smart investment in this industry is required if we are to retain our impact on the country and the world.

The Broadcasting and Telecommunications Legislative Review Panel is due to publish its final report in January. Steven Guilbeault, the new minister of Canadian Heritage has begun to meet key players in the industry and see firsthand the breadth and depth of Canada's creative and production community.

Beyond the numbers and the political considerations, we need to look no further than our screens for evidence of success. Canada's stories are exceptional and stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the best in the world.

  • "Kim's Convenience" won the Most Popular Foreign Drama award at the 2019 Seoul International Drama Awards and has garnered millions of fans in Korea.
  • "Schitt's Creek" and its talent have amassed a cult following in the U.S. and become role models — and meme generators — for a new generation of LGBTQ Americans. The show also earned four Emmy nominations this year.
  • Canada's Indigenous stories and creators have garnered critical acclaim and awards from Venice to Berlin and Cannes.
  • Canadians are also playing integral roles in the development of new forms of content and innovative user experiences, like video games and virtual reality.
  • Montreal's "The Darwin Project" has won critical acclaim because of its reinvention of the popular Battle Royale gaming genre.
  • Our embrace of multiculturalism, diversity and equitable representation has made Canada a powerful magnet for talent and perspectives that enrich our culture.

It's no surprise that, according to research conducted by Parrot Analytics, television produced or co-produced in Canada today has the highest rate of global "travelability" — the ability for content to attract audience demand outside of the country where it was originally produced and aired — compared to any other market.

Canada's content travels and sells well. It's time to equip our screen-based industry with the tools and resources that will make it extraordinary. Our current system just isn't going to cut it in the face of aggressive international players.

The government has clearly stated all players in the screen-based sector, whether Canadian or not, will play by the same rules. This will help create a fair, competitive environment in this growing sector.

This golden age for Canada's media is the time to collectively embrace the opportunities ahead. We must give ourselves new tools to capitalize on our investments of the last 80 years, leverage our success and ensure brand Canada continues to thrive in the world. .

Valerie Creighton is president and CEO of the Canada Media Fund.

© St. Catharines Standard

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