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Creative industry receives boost

Susan Rodgers
Susan Rodgers - Colin MacLean

Provincial governments releases five-year cultural strategy plan

SUMMERSIDE – Susan Rodgers wants to see real examples of the provincial government’s new five-year cultural plan.

“In the short term I’d like to see some concrete examples of the province’s plans. For instance, how does government intend to carry out the plan?

“They’re making a lot of promises. Do they have the staff resources in place? Exactly what will comprise the film media fund? Are we talking an All Spend rebate? I’d like some details, some whens and some hows.”

Rodgers is a local filmmaker and author of the hit Drifter series. Currently she is working on her own filming project.

On Monday, the government released their cultural strategy, “Cultivating Growth” which will include a local film media fund to support local independent film and filmmaker development, renewed annual investment in the Prince Edward Island Art Bank and commitment to having work displayed in public spaces, and investing in public art, festivals, and events in communities across P.E.I. that reflect our local identity.

The project is a joint effort with the departments of Education, Early Learning and Culture, and Economic Development and Tourism with investments projected to be up to $3.5 million over the next five years.

“I really, truly believe our small Island has the talent and the drive to create a film industry where cast and crew can work year round, moving between various projects. I hope this fund will encourage long form drama and a television series or two.

“I hope room is made for these types of projects to allow for training of both cast and crew, so that in the future, production companies can hire entirely within P.E.I. and not have to allocate budget monies to accommodations and travel for skilled cast and crew from off Island. Film budgets belong on the screen, not behind-the-scenes,” said Rodgers.

The new action plan also includes initiatives to grow the sector, like establishing a program that works with artists, enterprises and industry development groups to help grow creative businesses and better access new markets, investing a Craft Development Centre in partnership with the P.E.I. Crafts Council, and expanding training, employment and mentorship programs for those who are employed or wish to be employed in the cultural sector.

Mark Sandiford, the executive director of Culture P.E.I., says the development of the cultural strategy is fantastic.

“They seem to have covered a whole range of topics and talk about cultivating growth.”

He added, “Some key areas are quite clever by building on existing strengths. All we have to do is put more effort behind it.”

It’s a big day for the film industry, he said.

“It looks like we’ll be looking at some sort of program in P.E.I. that will be comparable to pretty much most other provinces in Canada. So it really gives us producers an opportunity to get back into film and television production that we haven’t seen in quite a long time.”

Sandiford said the main thing that needs to happen now is to fill in the gaps.

“Right now the strategy itself is very high level. It’s got a lot of really great ideas in it and they are kind of sketched out. But they need to be filled in.

“One thing I’m really looking forward to is the government talking to the industry and we can put our heads together to figure out the cleverest way to accomplish the things they’ve set out in the plan.”

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