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Creative BC’s Prem Gill says “historic funding” announcement will build pathways into B.C.’s motion picture industry

Prem Gill
Prem Gill is the CEO of Creative BC.

The CEO of Creative BC knows the way in which many people ended up working in the province’s $3.25-billion motion picture industry. According to Prem Gill, it often came via connections, whether it was through a neighbour, an uncle or someone else.

“That is how you fit in,” Gill tells Pancouver by phone.

However, she acknowledges that those without networks, including immigrants, were often excluded. This explains why Creative BC and the B.C. government teamed up on the Creative Pathways website in 2021.

“It’s about demystifying how you get into the industry, how you advance, how you become a member of a union, and really working with productions,” Gill explains.

On April 19, the B.C. government announced $42 million in new funding to support people and businesses in the motion picture, music, publishing, and interactive digital media industries. And it includes $900,000 for programs focusing on skill development, recruiting people from underrepresented groups into the motion picture industry, and supporting environmentally friendly practices.

According to Gill, this “historic investment” will help bring equity-seeking groups into the motion picture sector.

“The demographics of the industry don’t necessarily mirror the demographics of the province, so that’s part of it,” she states.

Indeed, this was demonstrated in a 2019 labour market study. It showed that two years earlier, below-the-line workers (artists, technicians, craftspeople, designers, drivers, performers, and business managers) were less diverse than the B.C. workforce.

Moreover, only 34 percent were women and 15 percent were “visible minorities”. That compared to the 48 percent of women and 29 percent of visible minorities in the overall provincial workforce.

To address this, the B.C. government initially provided $400,000 in funding for Creative Pathways. It was also supported by a $100,000 contribution from WarnerMedia Access Canada.

Prem Gill talks about Creative Pathways in this video.

Gill praises B.C.’s leadership in sustainability

Meanwhile, according to Gill, B.C. has been a leader in supporting sustainable practices in film and TV industry.

“Canada and provinces like Ontario and Quebec have joined in with us and developed their own programs,” she says. “The CBC and Telefilm adapted our programs for their productions as well. It’s something we’re really proud of.”

In the recent funding announcement, the province says that $15.9 million over three years will support domestic motion picture productions, including the money for labour-force improvements and promoting sustainability. This will ensure that an existing program can continue to fund a range of works, including features, TV series, and shorts.

An even larger amount—$22.5 million over three years—will fund Amplify BC. Creative BC administers this program, which supports the music sector and helps launch careers.

In addition, there will be $3 million over three years for a new program supporting interactive digital media companies.

“We’ve had a great partnership with the B.C. Arts Council,” Gill says. “We’ve had directed funding from them over the years to support the digital and interactive sector. It’s been focused on video game companies, app development, and the development of IP-related product.”

Lana Popham and Janet Austin
On December 7, Lieut.-Gov. Janet Austin (right) swore in Lana Popham the minister responsible for tourism, arts, culture and sport.

Publishing sector will also be funded

Moving forward, she says that Creative B.C. can look at case models for similar programs for the interactive digital-media industry. In particular, she cited what’s being done in Ontario and Quebec.

“This will allow us to work with that sector to develop some granting and support programs that can continue to support them,” Gill notes.

Another $600,000 over three years will go to the publishing industry. Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport Minister Lana Popham announced this on April 17.

“B.C. has the second-largest English-language book publishing market in Canada,” Popham said at the time in a news release. “This industry is creative, innovative and diverse, and we are proud of the unique voices that are shared through the many B.C. publication. We are securing a stronger, more competitive future for these businesses, their workers and their products.”

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Charlie Smith

Charlie Smith

Pancouver editor Charlie Smith has worked as a Vancouver journalist in print, radio, and television for more than three decades.

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Pancouver strives to build a more equal and empathetic society by advancing appreciation of visual and performing arts—and cultural communities—through education. Our goal is to elevate awareness about underrepresented artists and the organizations that support them. 

The Society of We Are Canadians Too created Pancouver to foster greater appreciation for underrepresented artistic communities. A rising tide of understanding lifts all of us.

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We would like to acknowledge that we are gathered on the traditional and unceded territories of the Coast Salish peoples of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and Səl̓ílwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations. With this acknowledgement, we thank the Indigenous peoples who still live on and care for this land.