Mr. Speaker, today I would like to salute the members of our local film and television industry. This industry is built on the dedicated efforts of businesses and individuals in the NWT who are committed to telling our stories to the world and contribute nearly $10 million to the NWT’s Gross Domestic Product annually.
In order to strengthen the economic viability of the Northwest Territories’ film and media arts industry and increase opportunities for investment, we need a comprehensive plan.
Mr. Speaker, later today I will be tabling a new strategy titled Take One: Northwest Territories Film Strategy and Action Plan. This Strategy will guide the planning and implementation of policies, investments and actions by our government to realize the economic potential of the NWT’s film and media arts sector, to achieve greater recognition for our local productions, and to market our territory as a destination of choice for future out-of-territory productions.
The NWT Economic Opportunities Strategy identified the potential for strengthening the economic viability of the film and media arts industry and increasing opportunities for investment in the NWT.
It highlighted the need for a definitive NWT film strategy to guide government investment, support business opportunities and stimulate economic growth.
Film and television productions do more than generate employment and spending for actors, technical staff and suppliers of goods and services. They also provide significant social benefits involving traditional knowledge, cultural preservation, youth empowerment, community pride and storytelling.
Furthermore, film tourism is a growing phenomenon internationally, and one we want to nurture in the Northwest Territories. It will help us to showcase our incredible landscapes, cultures, traditions and iconic landmarks to the world.
The NWT Film Strategy focuses on five key areas. These include: strengthening government and industry roles and partnerships; enhancing funding and financial support; developing the skills and competencies of NWT film producers; assisting in building infrastructure; and developing efficient and effective marketing and communications.
Some of these actions are already underway. Through the Support to Entrepreneurs and Economic Development (SEED) Policy, the GNWT provides $100,000 annually to support NWT filmmakers, an improvement was made to the funding categories last year to better reflect the stages through which a film is developed. Last month we also announced up to $200,000 in 2015-16 for the NWT Film Rebate Program, a new pilot program aimed at increasing film production activity throughout the NWT. It introduces, for the first time in the NWT, incentives to film on-location in our territory, and an increased incentive for productions filming outside of Yellowknife.
Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the Department of Education, Culture and Employment, the NWT Professional Media Association, NWT Tourism and Western Arctic Moving Pictures for their ongoing assistance; and the individuals, businesses, associations, governments, film commissions, production companies, guest producers and industry stakeholders who provided valuable input and perspectives during the consultation phase of the NWT Film Strategy.
I would also like to recognize the partnership and funding support of the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency.
Mr. Speaker, we have a vision of a strong and prosperous territory with a diversified economy and the film industry has an important role to play in that. We look forward to putting the Film Strategy’s recommendations in place over the next five years, in a manner that supports the integrity of the Northwest Territories’ unique film and media arts industry, and creates the environment needed for it to flourish locally and participate globally.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.