The Ontario Ministry of Culture launched a consultation back on September 24, 2015. Sorry – life got in the way or I would have posted earlier. I appear not to be the only one slowly realizing that this consultation is out there. I hear few members of the cultural industries have been attending the town halls around the province. It’s never a good thing to miss an opportunity to be heard by a government so here’s what is going on and how you can participate.
This consultation is aimed at providing the government with input on the development of a culture strategy that will guide the government in its priorities and policy development and in particular guide the allocation of the government’s spending on culture. The Ministry of Culture has released a Discussion Paper that outlines the size and characteristics of the arts and culture industries in Ontario and the questions that it wants answered. A series of town hall meetings are being held around the province to hear from both individual members of the public and those who work in the arts and culture sector (if you live in Markham, Toronto, London, Kingston, Mississauga or Windsor there are still dates coming up). There is also a discussion board where people are encouraged to post ideas and vote other people’s ideas up and down the list (which is a format that the Ontario Liberal Party has used to implement grassroots policy development). Few cultural industries (mainly just music) are showing up in ideas on the discussion board – you might want to think about throwing a few out there. Finally, anyone (members of the public and stakeholder organizations) are encouraged to file a submission addressing the questions by December 7, 2015.
The Discussion Paper asks the following questions specifically about the cultural industries:
- What is the Ontario government doing well to support the cultural industries sector?
- What would you like to see changed?
- Are there best practices that Ontario could learn from and adapt?
Through the OMDC the Ontario government has been very supportive of the cultural industries with tax credits, the IDM Fund, Export Fund, Research Grants and programs like Digital Dialogue. Yes, there are tweaks that could and should be done (I think specifically about the OIDMTC preventing co-production with other companies in Ontario and/or other provinces or countries, and the OFTTC expanding to web video) but this is the time to think about new ideas. What could help the sector, or your part of it, expand, grow, adapt to change, become sustainable? Yes, more funding but what kind of funding? Are there gaps in training or skills development?
You might also want to look at the other sections of the Discussion Paper and see to what extent the cultural industries can address those questions. Can Ontario film, television and digital media be a tool as well as an end in and of itself? For example, how can the cultural industries be used to inspire youth to create, participate in and consume Ontario culture? Can the cultural industries help the other cultural sectors better respond to digital challenges and opportunities. How can the cultural industries help the Ontario government serve the various regions, communities and populations?
You can’t win if you don’t play (which probably quotes a lottery ad but that seems appropriate).