B.C. creative sector points the way in sustainability, diversity

B.C.'s creative industries now deliver $6 billion to the B.C. economy annually and support 94,000 people working across the sector. But the context within which our success is growing shared equal focus in 2018, with action-oriented collaborations for sustainability as the year’s key theme. It’s not only what we do, but how we do it in B.C. that sets our creative industries apart globally.

Storytelling, regardless of the platform, is an art form. But what distinguishes the industries Creative BC represents is their focus on scale and economics – on turning those stories into content for global consumption. And like any other industry, this aspect of the business brings with it pressures, supply chains and competitiveness.

Increasingly, the work uniting B.C.’s creative industries is a formalized pursuit of greater sustainability within the sector. My prediction for 2019 and beyond is that B.C.’s global reputation for creative expertise will be paralleled by a reputation for stewardship. I believe our creative industries will lead the way across all the key pillars of sustainability – economic, environmental, social and policy.

Together, the sector is looking out for the planet that supports us and for the people working within it. The intention is for generations of diverse talent to enjoy fulfilling creative careers in film, TV, animation, visual effects, interactive games and apps, music and sound recording and book and magazine publishing.

The following are a few examples of the many seeds being sown by these industries, including via programs supported by the government of B.C.:

Reel Green, an initiative focused on better environmental practices in the motion picture industry, began at a grassroots level at the provincial film commission in 2006. Now, the B.C.-based initiative is the first in the world with a formal five-year strategic plan, designed in partnership and committed to by industry. We are pleased that B.C. secured licensing in 2018 for what is known as the albert suite of tools, so that all of Canada can leverage them to reduce the industry’s environmental footprint.

Respectful workplaces are inclusive and diverse. They represent business cultures of mutual respect, dignity and freedom from any form of harassment. To take material action, Creative BC contributed to national guiding principles for funding bodies like ours. We wrote requirements into our guidelines for all applicants, and we are partners in the Canadian Creative Industries Code of Conduct initiative. Creative BC also delivered a targeted provincial fund this year to train all B.C. creative industry association boards of directors and leaders in respectful workplace best practices. They are now applying this knowledge and making change in their respective industries through 15 newly announced, industry-led projects.

Creative BC is committed to ensuring program access and representation for B.C.’s Indigenous storytellers and for B.C.’s diverse creators – from regional voices to those of women and visible minorities. This requires consultation with interest groups and partners like the First Peoples’ Cultural Council, with whom we work to design responsive and supportive pathways for participation in the creative industries. Tracking our progress also requires benchmark setting. To this end, Creative BC has implemented metrics and is using them to drive support for, and therefore production of, increasingly diverse creative content.

B.C.’s creative industries are driving not only economic growth, but also, in parallel, social, policy and environmental change for the better. Together we are crafting the future of the creative industries, and as one of my team members said to me recently, inaction is a choice. In B.C., our choice is to collaboratively and responsibly take actions that sustain the sector about which we are so passionate, and this choice is as deeply inspired as the stories that we share with the world. 

Prem Gill is CEO of Creative BC.