In the coming months the current government or a new government will come to the table and ask us, the Creative Industries, a simple question… what do we want.
We had this conversation 20 years ago and it put us on the map. Now, well, we have to have it again. Let’s look at it as an opportunity to do something awesome.
To begin, the answer to the question should come in the form of a simple strategy document that identifies who we are, our economy sector, our industries, our place in the global market, our vision and values, beliefs and goals, where we want to go and how we want to get there.
It should look like a simple business plan and have a clear call to action that is future-oriented, inclusive and adaptable.
We want a simple film industry strategic plan from government that guides policy and decisions. We want the government to sign and commit to this plan.
Here are some points that should be in that plan that I’ve cobbled together from other communities, studies and writers who’ve already worked it out.
Vision and Beliefs
The creative industries are increasingly important to the economic well-being of Nova Scotia. We believe that human creativity is the ultimate economic resource, and that the industries of the twenty-first century will depend increasingly on the generation of knowledge through creativity and innovation. We believe the ownership and commercial exchange of rights in intellectual property will be the major source of new wealth created in Nova Scotia in the 21st century.
Creative industries are woven so deeply into the fabric of modern Nova Scotian society that every citizen is enriched by their pursuit and harmed by their undercapitalization.
We believe technology and tradition and natural partners.
Though all creative additions to the value chain are important, the highest value is placed on local production, intellectual property rights and copyright ownership.
Creative Industries are knowledge-based and labour-intensive, creating rewarding employment and wealth. By nurturing creativity and fostering the environment where innovation can happen societies will maintain cultural diversity and enhance economic performance.
Define The Sector
Creative Industries are those which have their origin in individual creativity, skill and talent and which have a potential for wealth and job creation through the generation and exploitation of intellectual property.
The Creative Industries refer to a range of economic activities which are concerned with the generation or exploitation of knowledge and information. The creative economy comprises advertising, architecture, art, crafts, design, fashion, film, music, performing arts, publishing, R&D, software, toys and games, TV and radio, video games and industries that preserve and promote traditional skills including boatbuilding, metalwork, and woodwork.
Cultural Industries are a sub-set of Creative Industries, including textual, music, television, film production and publishing, as well as crafts and design.
Our goal is to merge Creativity, Culture and Industry into a seamless, sustainable, sparkling engine of prosperity and wealth creation.
Cultural industries worldwide have adapted to the new digital technologies and to the arrival of national, regional and international regulatory and promotional policies. These factors have radically altered the context in which cultural goods, services, and investments flow between regions and countries globally. Consequently, these industries have undergone a process of internationalization and it is imperative that Nova Scotia compete effectively on the world stage using the best tools and techniques available.
Support equal treatment and equal access to program for all meeting goals
All programs, policies and incentives designed to grow and support the sector should be available to any and all Nova Scotians who succeed in Creative Industrial wealth forming pursuits and who can meet the standards of accountability and best practices. The only limit to growth in the sector should be individual’s capacity for effort.
The Benchmarks of Success
*We recognize that Economic Impact Modeling and the talk of ‘spin-offs can only be used as a comparative tool when making choices between alternate and mutually exclusive courses of action and that these tools are not useful when applied inconsistently or as a policy promotion tool.
We are competing in a global market
$640 billion was the value of the world’s exports of creative goods and services in 2011, of which $87 billion or 14 percent originated in the Americas, according to data compiled by Oxford Economics in the study “The Economic Impact of the Creative Industries in the Americas,” a collation of existing quantitative data on the economic performance of the creative and cultural industries.
The report surveys 44 countries—including 34 countries in the Americas and 10 benchmark countries from other regions around the world. It also recommends ways to improve and standardize national measurement frameworks to better track trends within and across countries and support more evidence-based policymaking.
The contribution by creative industries to GDP varies widely across the region: from just under 2 percent in Chile to more than 10 percent in Brazil and the United States. Growth rates in the sector are consistently higher than the average of the economy.
The creative sector is also an important provider of employment in some countries: between 5 percent to 11 percent of jobs in Canada, Colombia, Mexico, and Trinidad and Tobago. Moreover, the sector has a higher percentage of youth employment than the rest of the economy.
The sector is becoming increasingly international. Creative exports from the countries in the Americas accounted for 2.2 percent of all their exports of goods and services.
Nova Scotia must commit to effectively competing on the world stage with the goal that local talent, ideas and product on par value with the world is not encumbered by geopolitical disadvantage.
Our main competitor is Ontario
For policy and decision-making purposes we just agree that our benchmark competitor is the market-leading work done in the province of Ontario. Marketing, regulatory and incentive policy should embrace as ‘fast first follower’ strategy to ensure a favourable competitive position. The government of Nova Scotia should be constantly working with the Ontario and Federal government to ensure fair and balanced treatment of the Canadian regional production centres, explore comparative advantage opportunities, and promote value-adding co-operation where possible.
Current competitive advantages include:
Programs, Policies and Process
Over 20 years Refundable Tax Credits have become the global gold standard in Economic Development Tools for creative industries. When administrated properly they are fair, accessible to all, accountable and effective. They can be adjusted easily for competitive and marketing purposes, and they have a measurable positive effect on the economy. However, they must be understood and administrated by a knowledgeable and forward thinking system of policy, process and oversight. It is this system that has fallen by the way in Nova Scotia and must be rebuilt from the bottom.
Program, policy and processes do not need to reinvent the wheel. Nova Scotia has more experience with these programs than any other region. If we understand who our competitor is, our marketing strategy, and our competitive strategy the rates and particulars of the system will flow naturally from policy and be easily adapted to changing economic forces and competitive conditions.
**See the blog post document "The Application of Tax Credits" for a decision tree on incentive programming using Tax Credits.
2015 revealed the innate power of the sector to communicate, market and promote itself, even in the face of criticism and downturn. Industry marketing’s main goal is to bring investment, talent and jobs to Nova Scotia by empowering the industries to promote themselves. Our secondary goal is to promote Nova Scotia – products, people and as a destination for business and travel. Because it’s our proven strength, the focus of marketing should be social, viral, and sharable, seeking and creating personal direct relationships in the industry rather than old-style trade ads, displays and booths.
In Relation to the Stars
Creative industries are by definition less corporate than traditional industry. Relationships are important. Nova Scotian industry should focus on making great relationships with the best of the best of the world’s creative community.
Financial goal is 3 % of Canada’s growing output
Creative industries account for $640b in exports alone. This figure has been consistently growing at an average of 10% per year. In Film and TV, Nova Scotia currently represents about 2% of Canadian production and Canada represents about 2% of the global market. That number has grown from .2% 20 years ago. Ten times growth relative to world markets. Our goal should be to punch above our weight and reach 3% of Canadian production by 2021, while also enjoying 10% plus annual growth in global markets.
Industry development – Starting Over
The sector, the government and creative talent should take on the mindset and the challenge that we are starting over. We should see this as an opportunity to rebuild the unique foundation of local talent, stories and environment that enabled us to join the global market in the past.
Capital, Risk, Assessment and the Shape of Things To Come
Cultural Industries executive Ed Cowan wrote in the Globe and Mail this summer that our creative industries could be an ideal gateway to a long-term strategy improving our competitiveness and our capacity for innovation, leading a more certain, sustainable future economy in Canada. This section adapts his report to Nova Scotia. Already innovative tools that we’ve developed here, such as the use of Tax Credits in place of pick-a-winner style investment, have been copied and embraced by the most forward-looking global markets.
Nova Scotia’s base creative industries are hugely diverse – advertising, architecture, craft, design, fashion, television, information technology, software, publishing, museums, galleries, libraries, plus the performing and visual arts – they are built on a proud tradition of creativity and storytelling. Our video game developers create some of the world’s bestselling titles. Our animators draw the shows that engage and inform the world’s children. And in television, by far the world’s number one leisure activity, our series and specials continue to entertain the world. The future potential of this market is growing with new platforms, new investment and new technology. We will be part of a golden age of entertainment.
Any reduction in public investment in these industries will seriously undermine our creative and cultural ecosystems, creating a downward spiral in which fewer creative risks are taken, resulting in less innovation and declining returns, to the detriment of our economic future.
If we are to grow, steps have to be taken to begin to build cross-party political support for a new sustainable economic plan, based on building the environment for innovation, with the creative industries – supported by solid government belief and understanding – leading a major charge.
Step one in this initiative should evolve from the development of a creative industries mapping document, a tool kit to accurately and authoritatively measure the sector’s contribution to Nova Scotian economic health and gauge our progress, opportunities, strengths and weaknesses.
A similar process was an unqualified success in Britain – in 2001, it led to the British government becoming the world’s first to recognize creativity as a proper industrial sector. The British mapping document also proved that the creative sector outperformed the rest of the British economy in both growth and job creation.
A Nova Scotia commission could focus on the public and private investment required for the growth of this cornerstone sector. Tax incentives for film, television, software development, theatre and orchestras are essential, but other forms of public investment could be examined: supporting R&D, testing new ideas, developing new talent and opening doors to innovative collaboration with other industrial sectors. Stimulating this variety of investment and income is a vital national priority.
Access to capital is the crucial missing ingredient. We have the talent, the labour, the natural resources. Without adequate baseline investment, we cannot expect to maintain, let alone build on, our fledgling cultural and creative successes. Our cultural and creative industries can drive technological progress, as well as benefit from it.
While we are just 15 years into the digital millennium, it is crystal clear that creative and innovative uses of technology are essential to our future sustainable economic success.
Ask Frankie MacDonald. The digital revolution has increased participation in informal creative activity and expanded the universe of artists into potential collaborative interfacings with other industrial sectors. It has created the opportunity for new networks and new forms of collaboration and interaction, transformed the production and distribution of established cultural content and allowed new forms of art and culture to emerge, thus enlarging the economic palette for innovation.
The public sector has a vital role to play in supporting digital R&D in the creative industries, which must be aimed at increasing innovative content production, audience engagement and financial modelling – thus resulting in new forms of social value, as technologies evolve. Clearly, a strong cultural and creative ecosystem would lead to greater intrasector collaboration and innovation.
Education, Culture and The Future
This isn’t just about economic sustainability, though. The fruits of creative-sector collaboration, among the commercial creative industries and the purely cultural sectors, already range from familiar products, such as co-produced TV programming, to adventures in multiplatform storytelling that draw on expertise in technology, film, theatre and more. The possibilities are endless.
We must also be prepared to fully harness, and financially support, the importance of creativity in education and skills development to maximize our full creative potential. Doing so will ensure an innovative future and provincial well being, based on both a traditional and a digitally based education system, and a new-world curriculum that is infused with multidisciplinary creativity and economic enterprise. Failure to understand this educational issue dramatically reduces our capacity to produce creative, world-leading scientists, engineers and technologists.
Making decisive progress is both a social and economic imperative. Public and private financial resources need to be refocused across the cultural and creative industries to achieve this goal.
Writing about life, citizenship, and Nova Scotia.