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This article was published 14/11/2017 (699 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
With many members of Winnipeg’s thriving cultural-industries community in attendance, federal Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly received a warm reception to her speech to the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday.
Joly charmed the crowd as she outlined the Liberal government’s new Creative Canada program and detailed some of the ways the federal government is investing $1.9 billion in arts and culture — more than any other G7 country.
The lion’s share of that will go to CBC-Radio Canada and the Canada Council for the Arts — but she said the plan also is to invest in Canadian creators and creative industry professionals, promote the distribution of Canadian content at home, export it internationally, strengthen public broadcasting and support local news programming.
Joly was congratulatory and supportive of the Manitoba cultural industries community, saying it contributes about $1.7 billion to the provincial economy while providing 22,000 jobs — about 6.4 percent of Winnipeg’s labour force, higher than national averages.
Aside from addressing the importance of the social value arts and culture adds to the community, she said, part of the determination to embark on a new policy is to also focus on the economic development side and to embrace the realities of the digital era.
"The world has changed dramatically," she said. "Canadians are seeking out and consuming content of all types online using global platforms and mobile devices. It’s time for our policies to evolve to respond to the challenges of the new digital and global marketplace and to the opportunity our creative economy offers."
Conspicuously absent from the Creative Canada plan is support for local journalism, an industry particularly hard hit by the shift to digital advertising and consumption of news from on-line platforms.
Joly reiterated her stance that the federal government would not support unviable business models, but she did say there would be support for journalism organizations as they transition to digital platforms.
She said there will be an announcement soon about "modernizing" the $75-million Canadian Periodical Fund, but with revenue in legacy news organizations falling for years the future of professional local reporting is increasingly vulnerable.
Bob Cox, the publisher of the Winnipeg Free Press and chairman of News Media Canada, the 800 member national association for the Canadian news media industry, said Joly’s remarks continue to frustrate the industry that believes it is just as deserving of support as other cultural industries.
"The Moose Jaw Times Herald just closed down," he said. "We are running out of time."
Martin Cash has been writing a column and business news at the Free Press since 1989. Over those years he’s written through a number of business cycles and the rise and fall (and rise) in fortunes of many local businesses.
Updated on Wednesday, November 15, 2017 at 7:38 AM CST: Edited