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Alberta government hikes grant program for entertainment productions

October 04, 2017 - 5:48 AM

CALGARY - Alberta’s government and film industry is hoping a revamp of a grant program will lead to bigger productions and Netflix programs being shot in the province.

On Tuesday, Culture Minister Ricardo Miranda announced the $45 million Screen-Based Production Program in annual spending would replace the previous Alberta Production Grant, brought in by the Conservatives in 1998.

Jurisdictions often offer grants to studios as incentives to offset some costs and the previous limit for an individual project was $5 million.

The NDP is raising that cap to $7.5 million and each application will be examined for maximum economic impact and job creation, as opposed to what Miranda described as a poor first-come, first-serve basis.

“What we inherited was a grant system that was a bottomless pit and it left us scrambling for the money that we needed,” Miranda said.

The grant will also offer incentives for local productions, including up to 30 per cent of eligible production expenditures.

According to Calgary Economic Development, the industry contributes about $165 million to the provincial GDP, but CEO Mary Moran wants to see that grow significantly.

“As we start to attract larger productions, mid-sized productions that we hope to create a pipeline of that type of business, allowing us to grow over the years to five times what it is today,” she said.

Alberta is no stranger to film and TV crews; recent productions include "The Revenant," FX’s "Fargo" and Canada’s longest-running drama, "Heartland."

But Moran said the goal now is to entice more seasonal productions, specifically Netflix shows, to come to Alberta.

Luke Azevedo, Alberta’s Commissioner of Film, Television and Creative Industries, said being able to compete with other jurisdictions offering higher grants has been a challenge.

“We have the mountains, the badlands, the prairies and two municipalities over a million people all within a three-hour radius,” he said. “But when we started to talk about those larger budgets, it was very difficult for us to compete.

“We never lose a project because of our personnel or because of the locations, it was the money-based application.”


News from © The Canadian Press, 2017
The Canadian Press

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