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City provides millions of dollars for new Edmonton Screen Media Fund

WATCH ABOVE: A new multi-million-dollar fund aimed at supporting digital media and film projects in Edmonton has been launched. Chris Chacon reports.

Edmonton’s digital media and film sector is getting a boost. A new multi-million-dollar fund, aimed at supporting local projects and ventures has been launched.

“We went operational with some programming to support the local industry, and probably most important, we have $4 million in capital funds that were made available to us by the city,” explained Carman McNary, board chair with the Edmonton Screen Industries Office.

On the heels of unexpected cuts to city funding in the recent provincial budget, Edmonton’s mayor and council have stood firm in supporting the arts through the Edmonton Screen Media Fund.

“So city council is having to make a lot of difficult decisions with our budget, but I think we’re all committed to investing in economic growth and economic diversification as part of the long-term solution to our own city and province’s financial challenges,” Mayor Don Iveson said.

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The challenges are something the city is looking to overcome.

“We’re not going to scale back on my watch on these efforts to actually grow our economy, grow employment in sectors where we have emerging strength,” Iveson added.

While the city has had to restrategize its finances, many in the Alberta film and media industry have too, following the scrapping of the interactive digital media tax credit from the provincial budget.

“In terms of gaming, there’s no question that it makes it a little bit tougher, but we have other advantages,” McNary said. “So maybe on the tax side we’re at a disadvantage today, but on the cost side, we’re at a distinct advantage over some of the other markets.”

“A growth of screen industries in our city is important, regardless of what the tax policies are at the provincial level that may make it a little bit harder for us,” Iveson said. “But that’s beyond our control at city hall.

“What we can control is support for the sector.”

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In addition to the axing of the digital media tax credit, which offered a 25 per cent refundable tax credit for salaries and bonuses, the provincial budget also cut the scientific research and experimental development tax credit.

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The Edmonton screen media fund will contribute as much as 15 per cent of a project’s budget, up to a maximum of $250,000.