Friday, November 07, 2008

Harper Kills National Portrait Gallery & I'm OK With That

Prime Minister Harper has cancelled the relocation of the National Portrait Gallery project out of Ottawa. I always felt this institution should be in the nation's capital even though Edmonton (my home town) and Calgary spent time, cash and talent to put in a bid. I also never believed in the sincerity of the Harper Party in this project and it never had a political champion. It was always a non-starter in my mind.

Claiming no proposal was acceptable in cancelling the project is a political shifting of blame for a poor federal government policy decision in the first place. There is no need to spend that money for this purpose now as the feds flirt with recession.

The Alberta government pledged $40m to support the project. That culture funding is now freed up and ought to be reassigned by the province to support the new film and television funding program that is in the policy development process.

Alberta was the first province to support film and television production. It was so successful at developing creative and lucrative work for film industry workers that everyone else quickly got into the act. Alberta killed the program in 1996 with the focus on debt and deficit elimination and an ideological stance that government should not be in the business of being in business.

Well it is time to get back into supporting the infrastructure needed to support the cultural creatives in Alberta. Film and television industry is very viable even in these tough times. It provides huge investment multipliers for the bucks and is clean money that advances innovation as well.

There is $40m freed up now and Alberta should put that cash into the new proposed film and television fund. Full disclosure, I helped in a small way in the development the new funding deal. I also facilitated in getting some big new television series to come to Alberta. I even have a Co-Producer credit in the production of a home-grown sketch comedy series on APTN "Caution May Contain Nuts" that airs on late Saturday nights if you are interested.