The Problem

Many cities in Canada, such as Calgary, Vancouver, and Toronto, have been very successful in expanding their cultural industries and exporting intellectual property (IP) in the form of art, music, film, and entertainment.

Edmonton has missed many of these opportunities – and the significant jobs that go with them – through inattention and lack of action. It’s time we catch up.

The City of Edmonton has invested millions of dollars into supporting and growing our cultural sector, yet we remain behind many of our peers.

It is time we realize a profitable and self-sustaining industry is within our reach. As a City, we must focus on exporting our intellectual property to new markets.

There is a simple question for all of our arts and entertainment groups: are you product-ready? Do you have a product that can be exported for others to experience and appreciate?

“Edmonton First” Art Procurement

When we collect tax dollars from our citizens and businesses, we do so with the idea that these taxes will contribute directly to our community.

When we create new art installations, murals, and projects, they should be commissioned from local artists who have deep roots in Edmonton.

As Mayor, I will ask our public art project contracts go directly to local artists who call our city home, with local procurement being the rule rather than the exception. Local artists are defined as firms or individuals who have lived in or operated principally in Edmonton for a period of 10 years.

Film Industry

If you drive a few hours south to Calgary, you will find an exceptionally strong film industry. For years, our top film talent in Edmonton has left for opportunities in Calgary and Vancouver.

Twice in the last decade we have essentially “restarted” our film industry in Edmonton. While I was optimistic these changes would yield results, they have not materialized.  I believe in creating a “film focused” commission, managed directly as a special project out of my mayoral office.

For our film industry to be successful, we must do the following:

· Organize our cultural talent in Edmonton into larger, more commercially viable projects

· Partner with experienced studios and distributors in Canada and United States to create multi-year, serial productions willing to put down roots in Edmonton

· Focus on technology-driven productions, requiring sound stages, sets, and warehouses

To help boost our film industry, I am planning to create cultural free trade zones called “cultural economic zones”, of which our film and music industry will be a big part.

Cultural Economic Zones

Edmonton will be create the first of several property tax-exempt Cultural Economic Zones, allowing art hubs and facilities to operate and expand. No longer will opportunities like this only belong to not-for-profits; commercial ventures can also put down roots in our Cultural Economic Zones.

The first two Cultural Economic Zones I am looking to create will be located at:

· the Film Alberta studios and along Allard Way, focusing on film IP

· the CKUA building in downtown Edmonton, focusing on music IP

Building our Cultural Industries

Here are several strategies I’m planning to help build, support, and export our local art and entertainment with a focus on creating sustainable industries:

Festivals

Edmonton is the festival capital of Canada and our theatrical and musical performers are second to none. The City of Edmonton will look to expand our festivals and drive national tourism to Edmonton through low-cost online advertising and digital engagement strategies.

Digitizing the Art Gallery of Alberta Catalogue

By digitizing the collection at the Art Gallery of Alberta, we will be able to sell more of our pieces to international clientele and support my mission for exportable art.

Public Library of Canada Publishing House

The City of Edmonton will seek partnerships with other public libraries across Canada and be home to a new publishing house, which will seek to contract with authors and illustrators to provide exclusive content and literary works for local libraries which can then be exported around the world.

Music Clearing House

At the CKUA Cultural Economic Zone, we will help CKUA’s ongoing work to establish a music clearing house for musicians and performers to produce cultural IP and export/broadcast this IP through current on-demand models.

Lounges & Local Music

We need to reward bars and lounges for supporting our local arts community. By creating a strong music circuit that financially supports local performers, we will increase opportunities for these performers to expand their profiles nationally and internationally.

Working with the AGLC, I will advocate for increased operating hours for bars, pubs, and lounges that have live music at their venue. These venues will be able to operate until 3:30 a.m. to provide greater capacity for musicians to perform.

Summary

Edmonton has a wealth of arts, culture, and entertainment that is just waiting to be exported and promoted. Past attempts to do so have failed – despite millions of dollars of investment – due to a City Council and city administration that focused on process rather than results. Through a variety of business-minded strategies and initiatives, we will be able to foster a highly successful arts industry and export a cultural product unmatched in Canada and highly competitive on the world stage.