This is our 42nd meeting. We are continuing our study of cultural hubs and cultural districts in Canada.
Welcome, everybody, to our 103rd meeting.
Today we have four witnesses. We have Alanna Jankov from The Guild, and we have Christa Dickenson from Interactive Ontario. Our kids went to school together—just as a segue.
A voice: Recuse yourself.
The Chair: Yes, I must.
We also have with us Gilles Renaud, from Ateliers créatifs Montréal, and Alexandre Fortin from the Regroupement Pied Carré.
We will begin with the presentation by Ms. Jankov, please.
Good morning, Madam Chair, and members of the committee.
Before I begin, I would like to acknowledge National Volunteer Week and recognize the 12.7 million Canadian volunteers and thank them for their contributions.
The Guild is a not-for-profit arts and cultural hub with a provincial mandate to support new and emerging professional artists, creative industries, and community organizations through subsidies, mentorship, training, and professional development opportunities. We present and produce first-class theatre 12 months of the year in our 200-seat black box performance space. Each year, our gallery at The Guild presents six months of curatorial artists' paid exhibits and an additional six months of community-based exhibits in our public gallery. We also offer versatile rehearsal space for artists as well as networking and promotional opportunities for PEI artists, the public, and the cultural sector.
We are proud owners of a building in the heart of downtown Charlottetown, formerly a Royal Bank of Canada branch. In addition, we have a recording studio, a musical theatre for grades K to 12, and office space for several other creative industries.
Six years ago, I was hired by the board of directors to take my experience and achievements and use them to save a struggling cultural organization and turn it into a vibrant hub in Prince Edward Island. With the support of an active board, an energetic creative team, government partners, and the community, we have completed three infrastructure-improvement projects with the generous support of Canadian Heritage's cultural spaces fund, ACOA, and the Province of P.E.I.
We have hired students through the Canada summer jobs initiative. We've created a theatre mentorship program with the help of the P.E.I. government, and we have received support under the Canada arts presentation fund. The Guild has become a venue where artists get much-needed exposure, where arts groups have a space to create, and where the community has a gathering spot in which everyone feels welcome.
The Guild's operating budget has grown from $250,000 annually to over $1.5 million per year in just over six years. We have also increased our box office revenue to nearly $1 million per year, in comparison with only $50,000 per year in 2012. We have five full-time employees, doing the work of many, and more than 25 part-time support staff members. In addition to this, The Guild is indirectly responsible for an additional 65 part-time cast and crew from our mainstage six-month production of Anne and Gilbert: The Musical, Atlantic Blue, our TD Confederation Centre Young Company, and our other festival productions.
The Guild is located directly across the street from the Confederation Centre of the Arts. A 1,105-seat theatre with a national mandate, the Centre is the home of the longest-running musical in Canada, Anne of Green Gables: The Musical. In this shadow we have flourished and found creative ways to present year-round entertainment to a population of only 37,000 in Charlottetown, coupled with the 1.5 million tourists who visit Prince Edward Island annually from June to September.
The Guild has secured contracts with Holland America cruise lines. We are a venue for Music PEI and the East Coast Music Association. We are an MBS Radio co-presenter. We're an artsVest partner, a CARFAC member, and a SOCAN supporter, and we continue to grow our partnerships and sponsorships with Atlantic Canadian business.
Having said all this, we are a small organization doing big things. To continue to operate, we rely on the support of the community, local business, individuals, and most importantly, our three levels of government.
We must continue to have open and transparent relationships with our government partners and work together to reduce the stumbling blocks that continue to affect the creative industries. Lengthy applications for funding grants and investment dollars, lack of resources and recognition that the creative industries are an economic driver, and our inability to succession-plan our future with certainty—these are some of the barriers that we face daily. Changes such as increasing the terms for Canada summer jobs for students and expanding the eligibility of students in the recently announced work-integrated arts organizations might seem like small improvements; however, they would greatly benefit organizations like The Guild.
It is my hope that you will recognize the importance and vital role that cultural hubs like The Guild play in their communities, their contributions to Canadian tourism and the cultural sector and, most importantly, to acknowledge our proven ability to be both fiscally responsible and culturally aware. Financial support enables us to meet strategic and cultural targets while continuing to nurture and celebrate the artistic community and engage the public. We will continue to exemplify positive cultural outcomes in Prince Edward Island and in Canada.
To close on a positive note, 2018 will mark our sixth year presenting The Guild Festival, which includes our mainstage six-month six-shows-a-week production of Anne & Gilbert: The Musical, which, I might add, was presented at the National Arts Centre in 2015; our weekly francophone Ceilidh series; our tribute to Atlantic Canadian songwriters, Atlantic Blue, starring Tara MacLean; and everything else Canadian, from babies to burlesque, which you will see performed on The Guild stage in 2018. The Guild is a true reflection of Canadian culture. We are inclusive, relevant, accessible, exciting, and entertaining.
Good morning. Bonjour.
My name is Christa Dickenson. I am the president and CEO of Interactive Ontario, a non-profit non-partisan trade association representing over 340 companies in Ontario's interactive digital media industry. Our members produce a variety of interactive digital media, including e-learning, video games, mobile games, augmented reality, and virtual reality, as well as social media content. Most of those members are small to medium-sized companies.
Thank you for your invitation to come and talk about cultural hubs and the way in which the government can help them to develop.
Many members of Interactive Ontario have benefited from cultural centres, both formal and informal, as they were starting out. We would be happy to share their experiences and our ideas on what could be done to better support cultural entrepreneurs in the realm of interactive digital media.
IO is here to talk not as either an organizer of a cultural hub or as a potential future applicant but as a trade organization that would like to see the creation of more cultural hubs that can provide the necessary services to help IO members and IDM companies across the country grow from individual creators to small start-ups to, ultimately, bigger creative industries with their own premises. IDM companies in Ontario are primarily small businesses, with 88% of companies actually having 20 or fewer full-time equivalent employees. That first stage of growth from one or two individuals to a small start-up with ongoing production is probably the hardest and is in most need of support.
The IDM industry in Ontario contributed $1.4 billion to the GDP in 2015. With support, that contribution could very easily grow. Perhaps more importantly, support at the early stage of a cultural entrepreneur's career can help to diversify the industry and encourage more people from underserved segments of the population, such as women, indigenous people, visible minorities, and the neurodiverse, to put their good ideas to work in their own company.
I first would like to talk about the different kinds of hubs that exist today. The traditional cultural hub is like the Centre for Social Innovation, known as CSI, or 401 Richmond, both in Toronto. They are shared workspaces for artists, cultural producers, social innovators, and entrepreneurs, which also offer community-use space, exhibitions, and programming to assist both the tenants and members of the community. They're incredibly useful workspaces—and in fact IO itself regularly rents meeting spaces in CSIs—but they target very specific kinds of art workers as tenants.
On the other hand, there are the tech start-up spaces for collaboration and support of new and emerging technology companies. MaRS Discovery District, Communitech, and Ryerson's DMZ or Digital Media Zone are examples of spaces that offer shared workspaces and entrepreneurial support specifically to tech start-ups. There is little community engagement, but they do offer programming and networking for their tenants and support in accessing the marketplace.
Now, IO's members are interactive digital media producers, and they tend to straddle both the cultural space and the technology start-up world, so they do not fit well in either one of those spaces. They create a cultural product like video games or mobile games, so they don't fit into the tech start-up community. For example, MaRS specifically supports four sectors: energy and environment, finance and commerce, health, and work and learning. As entrepreneurs, they don't necessarily fit within the community as a traditional cultural hub. As an example, the CSI mandate is to support those who want to change the world. So I ask you: the latest Angry Birds isn't likely to change the world, is it?
For this reason, IO would like to see the development of a third kind of cultural hub, which we think fits the expanded definition of cultural hubs contained in the Creative Canada report, where it references the next generation of creative entrepreneurs in small businesses and start-ups. It would combine the cultural focus of the more traditional cultural hub with entrepreneurial support of the tech start-up hubs, and it would offer collaboration opportunities between cultural industries.
As an aside, I heard GamePlay Space present to you last Tuesday, and I think they're a great hub space for the gaming community, but we are advocating for spaces that would support a wider cross-section of cultural industries.
The interactive digital media industry would need the following resources in any cultural hub. That means secure, high-speed broadband available both as Wi-Fi and dedicated lines; small group work spaces that are soundproof and facilitate collaborative work; presentation and boardroom spaces; access to non-arts professionals such as accountants, lawyers, financial advisors, marketing advisors, HR consultants, and the list goes on; access to non-IDM arts professionals such as graphic designers, illustrators, animators, and screenwriters; ongoing training and mentorship opportunities; shared equipment such as presentation or demonstration equipment; shared equipment and technology to support collaborative work with other locations, i.e., live-streaming and virtual conference facilities like the one I'm in right now; space for playtesters from the community; and 24-7 access.
There are also aspects to a successful cultural hub that are difficult to quantify. A location such as a renovated warehouse, a Victorian office space, or some other architecturally unique space fosters a creative environment. IDM creators would also welcome flexibility over the work environment so that, for example, programmers could create dark workspaces to better see their code. IO members would also like to see a cultural hub open to a wide variety of cultural industries to support collaboration and to foster a creative environment they would feel comfortable in. Opportunities to engage with the public to showcase their work or playtest while in development—
Thank you for the invitation. My name is Gilles Renaud. We will present our PowerPoint slides in French, but we can make the presentation both in French and English. I'm the
General Director of Ateliers créatifs Montréal.
and Alexandre will talk afterwards for Pied Carré. They are both non-profit organizations. Our role as a non-profit is as a real estate developer.
Our goal is to provide affordable space for artists, craftspeople, and organizations, and we're very diversified. Our goal is to make it affordable, adequate—meaning up to the code and safe—and long-lasting. This is essential for the artists.
We have six different projects in four boroughs in Montreal, over 300,000 square feet of space for artists and organizations, more than 280 studios, and over 750 artists of different practices.
I'll go over our projects very fast. We have Le chat des artistes and CouturOscope, which is a kind of mutualization organization for fashion designers, whom we consider creators as well. We have two other projects, and I'll go very quickly over this one. Le patrimoine industriel in Montreal is a very interesting one. It's a combined deal with the City of Montreal to make a hub with urban designers and visual artists linking urbanism and the people living in this area.
This slide shows a painting we have on the roof of one of our buildings. You have the particulars of the artist there. It's not long-lasting, but it's very spectacular.
That's a very quick look at what we're doing. I will let Alexandre talk about the Regroupement Pied Carré, which is one our of projects. It's the biggest project in Canada for visual artists.
Good morning. My name is Alexandre Fortin. I am vice-president of the board of directors of Regroupement Pied Carré. We are a non-profit organization that rents out artist studios over four floors in a specific pre-industrial building in Montreal in the Mile End neighbourhood. We have 410 artists and artisans of different kinds, micro businesses, visual artists, dance groups, and various such organizations.
Right now it's an extremely successful project, so 92% to 93% of the spaces are rented out. It's a great success. Our goals are basically to create a space that is affordable, since cost is a problem for many artists, and to create a space where there can be exchanges between disciplines and different kinds of artists. It's also to protect and preserve techniques and cultural hubs for all. We also want to maintain the cultural and artistic aspect of the neighbourhood—Mile End has the highest concentration of artists in Canada per capita. It's also to look for funds to maintain said artist space.
At this point, one of our goals is affordability or to maintain prices that are affordable for artists so they have actual spaces to work in and also to create collaboration and the mixture of different disciplines. Right now we have, yes, galleries, artist studios, collectives, micro businesses, dance studios, artisans, several festival organizations, performance art, and literary arts; and in the last few years, we also have several creative businesses such as Ubisoft, which is a video game company; Framestore, which is a post-production company; Union des Artistes, which is the equivalent of the Screen Actors Guild but in Quebec specifically; and various other businesses. Right now, they decided to choose that particular building, that particular neighbourhood, because of the fact that it was specialized in the creative arts. It had a certain cachet and a certain dynamism, really, so the whole neighbourhood is boiling with creativity, so to speak.
I'll just quickly go over the galleries, because there is the creative hub aspect of the project, but there's also the diffusion and gallery hub of the project. We have the Centre d'art et de diffusion Clark, Atelier Circulaire, Optica, Diagonale, and Dezibao, to name a few. You have textile arts, video arts installations, regular visual arts, electronic music festivals—it's very varied and it's all in the same small spot. The concentration of creativity there is simply amazing.
Right now, some of Pied Carré's long-term goals are to create a better established website—it may seem small, but in terms of interactions between groups, it's of huge importance—have a calendar of events, a very detailed guide of the artists in the project; to create links with the public and with the various organizations; to keep some public spaces open for public activities, conferences, and exchanges between groups and communities; to create those festivals and activities between communities; to create better accessibility to new technologies such as 3-D printing and virtual reality; and also to create a link between various organizations, centres, and such.
Thank you very much.
Actually, there are two factors. We consider the cultural hubs program, or sector, to be essential. Today, we want to show that, with the projects we are working on, together or separately, we already have groups of artists, craftspeople and creators in various areas, including the digital arts, as well as the visual arts. The districts and the residents are linked as a result of public outreach, exhibition and awareness activities. Currently, we believe that the demand for projects corresponds exactly to what the program is in the process of developing. We have prepared a presentation about the program as we design it. But we have also prepared some recommendations. I could move immediately to the recommendations if you wish, given the little time we have.
The basic principle, in our opinion, is to encourage hubs to become established in infrastructures that already exist; this is for reasons of economy. It is also what our taxes can be used for. Hubs can be created in centres of activity that are already diversified in nature, that meet the criteria, but that can vary with the size of the project. For example, the project led by Pied Carré extends over four floors, with 200,000 square feet of space. Three or four clusters of workshops can be placed together. Equipment and space is used in common and a community forms between the artists, the entrepreneurs, the companies and the craftspeople. This gives rise to a creative stimulus. We already own the infrastructure; we just have to adapt the space. The idea is to link the concept of the project to the site we have, whenever possible. For us, that represents a major saving.
One of the difficulties with projects of this kind is clearly the funding, which has two aspects. First, there is the physical location, meaning the buildings, the renovation work, the equipment, and so on. Then there is the operation, which is all about the concept of the centre. The approach we have taken with all our projects is to establish financial viability. We have to develop our own operating revenue, but we also have to obtain financial support in order to support our projects in an affordable way. There is a diversity of tools, but they can be brought together into one complete whole, to complement municipal, provincial and federal programs.
On the municipal level, there are certainly tax incentives and property taxes, which vary with the districts. We have to examine how we can become involved in the regulations. In city centres, in combination with the province, there is funding specifically for social economy equipment and programming, funding, that is, for things other than culture. The idea, of course, is not to take away funding from culture. We have to find ways of developing these hubs using an economic development approach. By that, we mean developing the social economy and the financial viability with support that meets the demands.
I will stop here because my presentation includes many elements and subcategories. Mr. Fortin and I intend to present the committee with a much more detailed brief. Today, we mostly wanted to stimulate your interest so that you can read the brief more attentively when we submit it.
Thank you, Madam Chair. Good morning to all of the witnesses and thank you very much for being here.
Ms. Jankov, I'm going to start with you. It's not every day that we have someone from Prince Edward Island before the committee, much less someone from the fine riding of Charlottetown. I know that the members of the committee are very keen to hear more about the cultural scene in Charlottetown.
In your opening remarks, you talked about the fact that The Guild is in the shadow of the Confederation Centre of the Arts, which occupies a full city block and has an 1,100 seat theatre. I don't think you mentioned it, but Holland College, which is located in Charlottetown, also has a school for performing arts, which is dominated by international students but is really a hotbed for young up-and-comers who are finding their way in the creative arts. My question for you is around the challenges and the benefits associated with being in the shadow of the Confed Centre and having the Holland College performing arts program just down the street. I would expect that having something that big with a national mandate just across the street would sometimes make your life difficult and sometimes make it better. Can you talk to that a bit?
Where would I start? The really amazing thing about The Guild is that we can't go wrong. No one expected anything from us, so everything we do is really awesome. The Guild was a boat anchor. Six years ago the sheriff had the locks on the doors and the place was bankrupt. Everything we have done has exceeded all our partners' expectations. The introduction of Anne and Gilbert
, our musical and our main stage production, created a bit of controversy in downtown Charlottetown with the Confederation Centre of the Arts. They did everything they could to stop it, because in their opinion this was the ruination of their main stage of Anne of Green Gables
We were flattered, of course. We're a 200-seat, black box theatre. How could we cause any kind of disruption downtown? Instead, it increased that whole block, so it became even more of a hub. People could come to see Anne of Green Gables. They could come to see Anne and Gilbert. They could go across the street and shop at the Anne shop. They could go a little further down and buy the Anne chocolates, or just around the corner and get a wagon ride with Anne. It became something of a good thing instead of a bad thing.
It proved we had a bit of credibility and knew what we were doing. That segued right into good partnerships with the Confederation Centre of the Arts and with Holland College. Now, with our musical theatre school, we have partnerships and scholarships set up with Holland College. Each year, one of our grade 12 students gets a scholarship to go to the performing arts at Holland College. That is a positive thing that came from that.
Their 300-seat theatre, which is a soft-seater, is really marketed more towards their school. We have ventured into conversations on how we could create programming for them that we do at The Guild. We have also started a pay-what-you-can theatre festival every year in partnership with other theatres across P.E.I., including the Confederation Centre of the Arts.
I don't know, Sean, if I answered your question, but usually when I ask you questions, you don't answer mine either, so I don't know.
Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
This is all going into Hansard to be recorded in perpetuity. You understand that.
Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
In spite of that last comment, Ms. Jankov, you're being quite modest when you describe the situation with The Guild and how when you started, the locks were on the doors, or they were on the verge of putting locks on the doors. In your opening remarks you said that one of the challenges you have—and I would say this is undoubtedly a challenge in any not-for-profit entity—is succession. I don't think there's any question that the success of The Guild is largely because of your energy and imagination, but if you get hit by a bus or move on tomorrow, will The Guild survive? Will this not-for-profit that serves the cultural community so well have a chance?
I know you talked about that being a challenge. Is there an opportunity there for government? How can you take on the succession issue in a not-for-profit like the one you operate?
Thank you, Madam Chair.
Thank you all for your presentations.
Ms. Dickenson, your testimony demonstrated well the extent to which the creative industry needs its nurseries—if I may call them that—and its creative areas in order to start on projects.
For Ms. Jankov, it is not so much about the sector, but it is very much about the basic concept of hubs, cultural centres, as described by the . My congratulations. I also understand exactly what you mean when you say that you have developed your hub in the shadow of the official one, the Confederation Centre of the Arts. I feel that it will be a major complement, especially for the residents of Charlottetown.
On that subject, I would just like to tell you that I am not up to date on the government's plans. However, I know that, last fall, the said that she was going to inject $300 million into cultural spaces, specifically into cultural hubs.
We read that the objectives are achieved by supporting “the construction and/or renovation of arts and/or heritage facilities, including creative hubs; and the acquisition of specialized equipment and the development of feasibility studies for the construction or renovation of arts and/or heritage facilities, including creative hubs.”
This is the description of a “creative hub”:
|| A creative hub is a multi-tenant facility which brings together professionals from a range of arts or heritage sectors and creative disciplines. Creative hubs feature diverse business models, such as not-for-profit and for-profit organizations and self-employed creative workers. Creative hubs provide multiple users with shared space, equipment and amenities; opportunities for idea exchange, collaboration and/or professional development; and offer space and programming that is accessible to the public.
Perhaps it is not the case in Toronto, but I feel that the objectives of our three witnesses this morning fit those criteria perfectly. So it already exists. Personally, I think it is wonderful for the federal government to be investing money in this area.
In your opinion, what absolutely has to come from the feds?
We do not want to interfere in the projects. I do not believe that it is a good idea to sterilize, to “bleach”, the process so that everyone is the same. Actually, I feel that we need to do the opposite.
Take the rue de Gaspé project as an example. If I understand correctly, there are issues there. I feel sure that everyone would be interested in hearing Mr. Fortin's or Mr. Renaud's comments on the matter.
There are issues about recognizing initiative. Correct me if I am wrong, but the rue de Gaspé specifically has experienced significant tax increases. To be able to assist everyone and all the provinces, given the distinct and very different projects, what would be the basic criteria we would need to ensure more long-term programs and better collaboration with the other levels of government?
Let me give you an example. This year, the artists in the Regroupement Pied Carré group are going to pay the city of Montreal $1 million in property taxes for a space of approximately 200,000 square feet.
Moreover, revenue has to develop and become more concentrated in order to pay the costs of maintenance and other things. We are looking for a formula through which all layers of government can recognize the essence, the activity, of artists’ workshops or creative hubs. That would pave the way, through provincial legislation, to breaks such as property tax exemptions or reductions in the property tax rate. Examples like that actually have to do with municipalities, districts, and the provincial government. But if the federal government recognized the organizations using criteria like the fact of coming together, a certain square footage, the presence of an on-site manager, and a defined mission with criteria to meet, the door would be open to other departments or public authorities feeling encouraged to do the same thing. That could make a difference. Some artists are paying $12 or $13 per square foot, $5 of which goes to pay the taxes, and they can no longer afford that. It is a very specific detail, but it is hugely important.
We have been talking about Pied Carré, but you can see the same phenomenon in cultural cities elsewhere in Canada, such as Toronto and Vancouver. You have heard of the cultural centre located at 401 Richmond St. in Toronto. The people in charge of that project found a solution this year with the city and the provincial government. The recognition of organizations like Artscape and Akin Collective—with which we have established links, such as sharing best management practices—would give easier access to openings in the area of tax breaks. This would not involve a grant from the city, which would be less of an advantage; it would be a reduced tax rate.
Let me emphasize that the artists are still contributing to public services and they bring a lot to the neighbourhood. What they bring to sustainable development and to the quality of life must be recognized. We must keep them in central locations, otherwise they will go to the suburbs and outside the city. There will then no longer be a cultural cityscape in places like Montreal, Toronto or Vancouver.
I'd like to echo what Gilles just said about the importance of the virtual piece. I was just in Colombia a few weeks ago visiting Centro Audiovisual Medellín. It's incredible because they very much are a creative hub, and I saw all these different creators working together. Their largest piece that's growing is the fact that they've added a virtual membership to it in order to reach out to remote locations throughout Medellín and Colombia.
The live streaming component is something that I addressed in my presentation this morning. I truly think, as Gilles was saying, this is the differentiator: to be able to disseminate the information, the knowledge, and to network. That is critical.
As far as some other qualifications are concerned, I really think that looking at diversity itself is important. We find that when you look at a digital media company that is run by numerous men, they most likely will hire like-minded people. We we have not done a study on cultural hubs. We have done a study on diversity and inclusion within our sector, and what we found is that the young and emerging creators are looking to find their own space, to grow, to be like-minded and to be able to hire people like themselves. So I would just really think of that as potentially another thing to look at when you look at criteria.
If anyone has been to Prince Edward Island, they would probably realize that you can go from rural to urban in about 30 seconds, so when it comes to that virtual piece and offering up The Guild from tip to tip to Prince Edward Island, it's pretty easy for us to do that.
The Guild is a founding member of what we call the Professional Theatre Network of Prince Edward Island. We're a group of theatres that meet in different areas all over P.E.I. We share resources, ideas, and even lighting equipment, actors, sound and tech people, and directors, and stage managers. We're doing that, and it's working for us.
I try to hire from one end of the island to the other. When I'm hiring my students, because we're so close, somebody could live in Summerside or even as far as Tignish and still come and work at The Guild and have that experience of coming to P.E.I.
I just wanted to say that.
Good morning, Madam Chair and members of the committee. It's my pleasure to be here speaking with you guys about the cultural hubs issue that you so courageously decided to tackle.
As Madam Chair indicated, my name is Ana Serrano. I'm the chief digital officer of the Canadian Film Centre. I'm also the managing director of Canada's only media and entertainment technology accelerator, IDEABOOST.
I want to start this conversation with all of you today by articulating three specific points of view about what a cultural hub could be.
First and foremost, the Canadian Film Centre, which is situated north of downtown Toronto, at Bayview and York Mills, for the past 30 years has been accelerating talent across the film, television, music, acting, and digital media sectors. Based on the experience we've had as a really efficient, effective wealth-generating network of stakeholders in the media and entertainment ecosystem, we believe, based on this experience, cultural hubs need not necessarily be so predicated on a place-based strategy. Indeed, cultural hubs, especially today in the digital age, could be seen as distributed networks of services—as spaces, of course, but most importantly as people-driven networks. That's one part of this intervention that I'd like to share with you, that we think cultural hubs should be seen as distributed networks.
Of equal importance is the notion that cultural hubs, to be more effective in especially today's climate, typically will need to be more interdisciplinary and inter-sectoral. They will need to focus on being embedded in real live experiences, lived experiences, of the cross-section of networks they serve and in the specific domain, in this case arts and culture, they might be focused on. In much of the work we are currently doing at the Canadian Film Centre, we have started to stitch together not just media and entertainment talent and content creators but also technology start-up founders and community spaces that are embedded in communities, whether that's the library system, specific other communities that we're working with, subject matter experts in areas that we might be interested in exploring as part of our content productions, and so on. There are all of these types of stakeholders. Typically, when we look at a cultural ecosystem, we only think of the parts of the ecosystem that are attached to the production value chain—for example, from those who produce the content to those who distribute the content—but increasingly we're finding that playing with the other sectors that touch on or are adjacent to this production value chain makes for richer conversations amongst the stakeholders involved.
Last but not least, another thing we've discovered is that a hub is only good if it is actually connected to other hubs internationally. It's very important. Although we may be looking at creating these vibrant, intersectional, inter-sectoral spaces and networks in our communities in Canada, unless they are also somehow connected to other spaces abroad, their impact is likely limited.
These are the three things we'd like to discuss further. I'll repeat them for you: the notion that the cultural hub is actually increasingly becoming a distributed network of individuals and interdisciplinary teams; we need to think of hubs across sectors; and we really need to think about their reach and impact at a global level.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
I want to thank everybody for your time today and also for the opportunity to participate in this really important subject about cultural hubs and creative districts.
I'm the founding president and CEO of Canada's new National Music Centre, which is located in a building that's called Studio Bell. It's in the heart of one of Calgary's oldest neighbourhoods, called East Village, on the east [Technical difficulty—Editor] Calgary [Technical difficulty—Editor] .
National Music Centre opened what I would argue is an emerging hybrid organization that aspires to be a creative hub and within a cultural district. It combines both of those dualities into one facility. We opened very recently, just 22 months ago, on July 1, 2016. It took roughly 10 years to build National Music Centre. It was funded from all levels of government—municipal, provincial, and federal—as well as through a considerable amount of philanthropy, corporate donations, and/or sponsorship. [Technical difficulty—Editor] in this neighbourhood.
National Music Centre has many elements of a cultural hub and a creative hub. We created a new model for an operational cultural facility in that we are part museum, part live music presenter, and part incubator within this particular building. We are an interdisciplinary cultural organization that involves numerous sectors—not just music—on the non-profit side of music but also on the for-profit side, the music industry. It includes tech and education, and I would go so far as to say even health to a degree.
Our programming [Technical difficulty—Editor] including artists, thought leaders, educators, music fans, and a wide range of other audiences as well. I can speak first hand about what it was like to be involved in helping to create a new cultural district within Calgary, then also specifically an emerging cultural hub within the organization of the National Music Centre. We are very much in our early days. We just opened in July 2016, as I said. We're very much pioneers in a lot of ways. I think what has led to our success in a lot of ways, at least our early success, even though we're still at the pioneering phase, was leadership from the City of Calgary.
Government has played a very significant leadership role in helping to set the stage for this new cultural district. [Technical difficulty—Editor] from a digital perspective, it's both an evolving network and also a series of cultural infrastructure amenities that live within a certain physical ecosystem here in Calgary.
To give you a sense of the neighbourhood, East Village is a mixed-use aspiration, amenity-rich neighbourhood. It will be home at some point to more than 11,000 residents. The city has invested in some significant infrastructure projects, including the refurbishment of an island, a river walk, a brand new central library, which opens later this year, and of course National Music Centre, in which they invested $35 million. We broke ground in 2013. We've incentivized a lot of new activities to move into this neighbourhood. That's at a particularly interesting time in Calgary's [Technical difficulty—Editor], which is obviously a hotly debated topic nowadays. Tech and culture in particular are new areas at which the city is looking very seriously with respect to diversification. It's a digital network, and it's also an infrastructure network that is really in the early phases of developing.
My own view on cultural hub—because I've been involved with his project for well over 20 years, and that's how long it's taken it to get off the ground largely in some ways because of the shift that has to happen in Calgary's mindset—is that a cultural hub physically needs to be within a very eclectic neighbourhood. While it welcomes cars, it needs to be very pedestrian friendly, which East Village is aspiring to be. At the same time, it needs to have a very strong sense of authenticity about it and diversity within it.
All of those elements are actually [Technical difficulty—Editor] neighbourhood. Our government, as I said, has played a significant role in creating East Village. The City of Calgary created an arm's-length, wholly owned subsidiary called the Calgary Municipal Land Corporation to oversee the development of this neighbourhood.
The province eliminated or stopped collecting taxes in this neighbourhood for a period of 20 years to incentivize the CMLC to fund— and use those tax dollars to fund— and build projects such as infrastructure upgrades, and also to incentivize developers to move into the city.
I can share from my perspective how National Music Centre, hybrid cultural organizations [Technical difficulty—Editor]. Thank you.
With reference to model types—and referred to the issue of non-profits—I've looked back at some of the research, and the heritage committee at some point also looked at the concept I referred to in our last meeting, on the blending of the non-profit and business models.
I'm wondering whether or not you have had a chance to look at it, or whether there's some value in looking at, a model in British Columbia that blends the non-profit and the for-profit models. Nova Scotia has done some work on it and so has England. British Columbia has done some work on it. With a non-profit or a foundational model, you are limited in the number of things you can do. You can't buy franchises. You can't pay a board of directors. You can't sell shares. You can't do all of those things, but in the business sector, you can.
Is there some value in government looking at a blended model? Would a blended model, with business principles combined with non-profit principles, from a philosophical point of view, represent a model for incorporation? Would something like that give you more flexibility, more options, in terms of being able to address the initiatives you so clearly outlined?
I agree that there needs to be some latitude between non-profits and for-profits co-existing, and even some policy—and that's obviously down to legislation to, I think.... I guess I would describe it as loosening the reins a little bit, just because of the narrowing of the gap between the non-profit sector and the for-profit sector in certain instances.
For example, with the National Music Centre, one of the things we have seen within cultural districts, certainly in North America, is the relationship between live music centres and the clusters of tech companies that surround them. It's no secret, I think, to most people that [Technical difficulty--Editor] Austin has the largest concentrations of tech companies anywhere in the world, and they are also the live music capital of the world, because we've seen a relationship between tech workers and companies in the creative sector wanting to be close to that kind of vibrant music scene.
In the case of National Music Centre, I think that when the building Canada fund provided $25 million under the previous government for this particular project, there was a real restriction in the guidelines of the money, which could not be used to fund our live music venue here at the National Music Centre because it wasn't considered a core charitable activity of the National Music Centre. The National Music Centre is a charitable organization registered under the CRA. [Technical difficulty--Editor] We were quite motivated to go to the CRA and really argue this point, because we felt that, as a music organization, being able to present live music within a club environment was an important activation and a way we could incentivize others to locate within this hub and neighbourhood.
I think that's one thing we certainly learned throughout the process of working through the bill [Technical difficulty--Editor] that I would very strongly recommend you consider creating a little bit more latitude, because as a charitable organization, presenting live music—given our mandate—is a very important part of who we are as an organization. It has a direct link to certain investments in the for-profit sector that otherwise may look elsewhere within a given district to locate. That's a real concrete example I could give you to think about for consideration.
If I may, I have a second example that relates specifically to the blending of the non-profit world and the for-profit world within the music space specifically.
Traditionally, non-profit music organizations were largely funded through philanthropy and grants [Technical difficulty--Editor] various elements of Canadian Heritage, as split typically from what we would describe as the for-profit industry or the music industry. Often that was broken down between classical music, jazz, and world music on the non-profit side and pop, hip hop, rock, and indie music on the commercial side.
I find that those people, those different spaces at Canadian Heritage, often don't speak with each other. Very often they work in very different spaces. We have gotten to know them both, because at the National Music Centre, we're an all-music organization, blending both the non-profit side of helping artists to develop their skills as artists, if they play classical music or if they're original singer-songwriters, and also working on the industry side within spaces around FACTOR and the [Technical difficulty--Editor] that look after those within Canadian Heritage. What we have found is that artists, no matter what music they play, are trying to build small businesses effectively and build careers around themselves.
I have found there has often been, within those two spaces, two separate cultures within Canadian Heritage that operate very differently. My own view, because I've worked in the music business now for over 20 years, is that there's a narrowing of the gap between how artists make a living within the traditional side of the performing arts in music, whether it's classical or world music, and on the commercial side if you're playing in an indie band and you're touring Canada.
This is partially why I led with the notion that although place is important, it's really your impact as services and networks across a variety of spaces that could be construed as public as well.
In terms of what the film centre does in that particular community, we certainly have quite a number of open-type policy initiatives where the community itself is welcome to come to our space. We run a number of different programs through our film and television department that welcome some of the students who go to schools in that community. That is just par for the course of being a good neighbour and a good cultural centre in a neighbourhood.
More important is the type of community-based work we do. For example, through our digital media department, the technology start-up products that we create can be deployed in other sectors and in other communities, and we can actually distribute such deployment in channels that are embedded in communities.
A good example of this is the work that we are doing with the Toronto Public Library system and its various community partners, like the Parkdale economic community development initiative, which is working on a number of different community service-based activities, including the development of a land trust, community gardens, etc. We are pairing that type of domain subject-matter work embedded in the Parkdale community with virtual reality experience productions that would highlight and provide more enhancement and understanding of the impact of such services in that community through the use of virtual reality and augmented reality. These types of experiences then get distributed through the Toronto Public Library system, including the public library.
On May 8, a Jane's Walk is happening that is being run by the Toronto Public Library system. Community residents can take a tour of the Parkdale neighbourhood. We are using AR-based technology created by our startup Albedo Informatics to showcase and highlight how the community has changed over the years using augmented reality on mobile devices. That is the first-ever AR-enhanced Jane's Walk in that particular neighbourhood.
It's this kind of intervention that I think creates the notion of these types of distributed network hubs.
We invented the National Music Centre charitable organization, and we've been doing work here in Calgary for well over 20 years. We invented the brand of the National Music Centre.
What we've done to fulfill this national mandate is we have about half a dozen partners who we work with across the country, both in the non-profit and the for-profit space. In the non-profit space, we work with several other presenters. We have some emerging partnerships with other venues in Toronto. It's not public yet, because we're still working on the details of what those are.
Once our programming gets up to a certain place, we would like to be able to present some of our programming in Toronto and Montreal. We have relationships in Quebec, as well, that we're working with, because we're a bilingual organization.
Also, on the for-profit side, we're the home of the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame, and the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame. Those are music industry associations that are all headquartered in Toronto. Their physical halls of fame live here in our building at the National Music Centre at Studio Bell.
Those partnerships took years to develop. When an industry association recognizes artists, they get inducted at particular ceremonies. Those artists are recognized through an exhibit here at the National Music Centre, and the artists themselves actually come to visit the space, spend time at the space [Technical difficulty—Editor] through this region here in Canada.
It's a great national partnership. There's also a live streaming component that we've created for all of our international audiences, which we're starting to develop slowly. Partnerships are how National Music Centre is national.
The second way is that through music industry and non-profit artist development, we bring artists from across Canada to work in our studios. We have very unique recording studio environments here that encompass 450 years' worth of working music technologies. We had an artist, Émile Bilodeau, who was here last week from Quebec. Safia Nolin, another well-known Quebec artist, is coming here to record an album in about two weeks. We've had artists from [Technical difficulty—Editor] as well.
That's another way in which we fulfill our national mandate.
Thank you very much, Madam Chair.
As I have been lucky enough to visit the National Music Centre in Calgary, I note that you actually have very similar names but very different missions, if I'm not mistaken.
The Canadian Film Centre and the National Music Centre have a lot in common. However, the two organizations are completely different. It is true that a lot of artists like to use the vintage equipment.
that you can find at the National Music Centre. I'll get back to you, Andrew, a tad later.
Ms. Serrano, your organization somehow brings master classes to various interveners, who actually register and pay tuition fees to access the various themes that I can see on your website. Is that correct?
Yes. We have postgraduate training programs, or residency programs as we call them. We have large endowments of scholarship to allow a diversity, and to ensure that anyone with talent can still come to the Canadian Film Centre. Those folks, essentially, get the benefit of an international roster of masters in their field, and learn from them.
We also have programs that are specifically tied to the industry itself even more directly. For example, our television program is such that a show runner comes in and has a TV show in mind to produce, and then the writers that are part of this program all write the bible with this person, with the intention that this particular program will end up on Netflix. Indeed, that has happened many times, with Orphan Black, with Travellers, and a variety of shows. Many of these writers who helped in the program end up becoming paid writers for the show.
We're really closing the gap between the talent that goes through the doors and the industry that we're building through this talent. In our digital media space, we have a totally different model, which is really to run an accelerator, where we provide investments into technology companies and help support the growth of these companies.
Okay. Considering the supposed investments of $25 million to come from Netflix in the Quebec region, we may hope they will do something with l'inis.
Mr. Mosker, we were saying earlier that the people in Charlottetown are lucky to have someone like Alanna Jankov. I would say the same about the people in Calgary, who are lucky to have someone like Andrew Mosker. You have really invented a new model of an outreach centre. The last time I was there, I had the opportunity to see all the vintage equipment on display there that can still be used. It also gives a lot of life to real production.
It is true that I saw a lot of young people involved in production and playing instruments, not all the instruments and perhaps not the vintage instruments.
We could have just as easily met with you when we were studying museums. Your centre is like a new museum that does a lot of cultural outreach. It is a sort of cultural neighbourhood. In any event, it is located in a cultural neighbourhood, that is for sure. In a way, it is a kind of cultural hub because people come to you in order to create.
Is there a particularly local dimension? Can local artists drop by and see and use your equipment?
Absolutely. The National Music Centre seeks to create opportunities not only for local and regional artists, but also for artists from everywhere in Canada. In terms of the live programming we present here, I feel that last year, [technical difficulties
] participated in the local events here at the National Music Centre. Local artists are very involved in our programs.
In addition, we have our artists in residence program, which is just in its early stages because it has been in place for only 22 months. Artists from all over Canada come to see our studios, which are really unique in the country, and to use our vintage equipment, which is a source of inspiration for them professionally.
As I told you two weeks ago, we have established a partnership with ADISQ in Quebec, whereby the new artist who wins the Félix de la Révélation prize each year is received as an artist in residence with us. Last year, Émile Bilodeau came here to record a new album. It was the first time in his life that he had been to Alberta. It really inspired him to see a recording studio with vintage equipment here in Canada. He wrote and recorded eight songs in three days. He came back to give a show before a Calgary audience for the first time. On Facebook Live, he talked about his experience recording his songs here. His fans everywhere, in Quebec and around the world, have a good idea of the way in which he created a new album here at the National Music Centre in Calgary.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
Good morning, Ms. Serrano and Mr. Mosker. Thank you for your quality presentations. I also acknowledge the excellence of the service you are providing to the country.
I have three closely interrelated questions, which I'll ask of both of you, and you'll see why I asked the three of them together.
First, do you have a model elsewhere in the world that you're looking to or at, or are considering?
Second, what is it that you aspire to be? Could you give us an indication of where you believe your organization will be a few years from now, or even a decade from now.
Third, how could the Canadian government help you achieve that vision? With this third question, I don't only mean with money. It could be other types of support.
Mr. Mosker, you referred to the CRA. If it is getting rid of red tape or other cumbersome elements that often impede your progress, please feel free to refer to that.
Right now we have a very strong partnership with cultural services at the French embassy and, as such, I've been touring France quite a bit and being hosted by the Institut Français. I've seen many interesting models in France for how they support these kinds of interdisciplinary networks.
The one I recently visited, which I thought was really quite remarkable, was a small town outside of Paris called Laval. It had decided about 20 years ago to focus on really becoming well-known as a place that would understand, innovate, produce work, and convene anyone interested in virtual reality. That was 20 years ago.
As many of you on the committee know, it's the hottest thing right now. Fast-forward 20 years, and they have an incubator and an internationally renowned conference. They have scientific labs situated in the region. They have a bunch of start-ups. They have creators and artists who they're starting to integrate into their space. They have a cultural kind of facility for theatrical and immersive art presentations. All of this is in a tiny little town outside of Paris that most Parisians don't even know about. What that really represents to me is this idea of what I was talking about from the get-go, which is that the cultural hub does not need to look like what we think a cultural hub looks like. It doesn't need to look a gentrified downtown Toronto space with multi-use buildings, etc., although those are beautiful spaces to live in. They're great spaces to hang out in, and certainly they have contributed to the quality of life and to the quality of the arts and culture in a city.
However, I think what we're now finding as globalization takes hold is that we can start to reinvent our notion of what a cultural hub can be. I think it is about removing our biases between urban and rural areas. We need to remove biases about what disciplines and/or sectors make more sense to be part of a hub. I think this kind of mixing of things is really the most important part.
Then, most importantly, the role of an international network is really critical, because the world is getting much smaller and the opportunities for Canadians are really limited by the tiny market that we have. So striving for excellence and quality of content, of thinking, of talent, and of work, and supporting that across networks and then selling it globally is really what we aspire to do.
In terms of successful models that we've seen around the world, I've been very fortunate. I've been involved with this organization for well over 20 years. Before we built National Music Centre, I spent 10 years looking around the world at various models. The reason the National Music Centre created a sort of a tri-model was the integration that was happening as a result of technology and this convergence, particularly in music, that continues. It's not over yet.
I'm going to build on France, again. There are lots of great facilities in France that certainly inspired the National Music Centre. La Cité de la musique is a wonderful facility—if you haven't seen it, I highly recommend it—and le Centre Pompidou, as well [Technical difficulty--Editor] brings together many disciplines in a very creative way. Those are big facilities.
Getting down to much more granular level in neighbourhoods, I think that the Americans particular, as a result of trying to renew inner cities after the Second World War, have spawned this idea of looking at how we bring life back from the suburbs to the inner city. That's especially the case in the south, in Tennessee and in various parts of Mississippi.... I've spent a lot of time down in those areas looking at what Memphis, Nashville, and Austin, further to the west, have done vis-a-vis music and their cities, and learned a lot from this convergence of [Technical difficulty--Editor]. These were, in many ways, I think, a huge inspiration for East Village in Calgary and the National Music Centre. For example, if you haven't seen our facility, it's built in and around an historic hotel called the King Eddy Hotel, which was Calgary's home of the blues for many years.
There's a similar model in South Memphis, with the Stax label, an R and B label that existed from the 1960s to the mid 1970s in a really downtrodden part of south Memphis. They rebuilt that studio and built a museum and a charter school around it. Instead of putting it in the high density tourist area of Beale Street, they put it back on the original [Technical difficulty ] to be a catalyst for the neighbourhood to bring people together through the power of music and education. It's worked. Twenty years later, there are new developments around there. It's a safer place to go and visit.
Those were big inspirations to us on a more micro level. I think everyone looks at Austin and Nashville in the music space and wonders what lessons can be learned and transported to wherever you live. In the case of Calgary, we're certainly looking at ways that we could bring tech space, innovation, and music together and live and build a new ecosystem or add to the existing ecosystem here in Calgary. Those were our models.
I know, Mr. Mosker, you were attempting to finish, but one of the things that I would ask, because it is new and being set up.... I don't know what Ralph Klein, as mayor and premier, would have done without East Village. That was his second home, as he hung out in the blues bars with a beer.
I know you've been at this for many years, and as a start-up, you mentioned the CRA, but at the federal level, what specific a recommendation would you give us that would facilitate the next one that's starting up?
Both this government and the previous government have been very supportive of making investments in infrastructure to help reinvent, in this case, an inner city in Calgary. Calgary, as you might know, is largely a suburban environment, and there was a real need, for sustainability reasons, to start building up the inner city. Both governments understood that, and led with funding and ideas.
The other thing the government can do is to be a champion. Even recently, since we're a start-up, we've had come to our space for the Junos in 2016 get very excited and engaged about this interdisciplinary model that we've [Technical difficulty--Editor] that celebrates some of the current activities we're doing in music now. Having champions is very important.
Minister Joly is only one person. Simon Brault, the president of the Conseil des arts du Canada, came here two days ago and did a full tour of the facility. It's the first time he has seen it. He tweeted messages about it, which is fantastic. That type of championing of a young organization, which in this case the Government of Canada has put $30 million in infrastructure money into, is absolutely critical, because at the start-up phase what you need more than anything is credibility. We haven't proven ourselves programmatically, so that type of credibility as a result of their saying that this is something they believe in and that it has great potential [Technical difficulty--Editor] forward, using creative Canada as an example, and there are other policies....
Being a champion and helping the start-up promote the space is hugely important. Recently the Government of Canada also brought the passport project to the National Music Centre, in conjunction with Manitoba Music, to help give Canadian artists export readiness skills. We hosted that. That was led by the Department of Canadian Heritage. Those kinds of investments and championing, in addition to the CRA opportunities, are great ways that you can help a start-up get off the ground.
Part of what we regularly do is to be quite rigorous in looking at the economic impact of the work we're doing. We essentially know how many jobs we're creating on a basis, because we have these rolling kinds of very detailed surveys of the people who come through the doors of the film centre and look at how they've impacted the economy. We have chosen not to do as much on the ancillary impact. We're trying to look at the direct impact, as opposed to if a production happens, considering what the other kinds of economic ramifications are for restaurants and hotels and those kinds of things. Our economic studies typically tend to be quite direct, which has been really useful for us. The results have been great.
I want to say two more things quickly in addition to what Andrew talked about, namely, what the federal government can still do. That is partially your question also, Mr. Hogg.
One, I think, is this notion of supporting social infrastructure. I think it's important to support capital infrastructure projects. As you guys have heard and alluded to, the results of these economic impacts have to do with programming. So thinking about the supports around the social infrastructure needs of hubs and cultural districts is going to be critical.
Two, I think it would be really interesting for the feds to maybe eat their own dog food a bit in trying to support the development of start-ups and more innovative enterprises. Are any prototype dollars to be used to try new models? I don't think there's any reason—