Creative Processes Impact the Economy
Culture plays a dual role in society. Besides its intrinsic social value reflecting society's identity, spiritual health and advancement, culture has an explicit economic value as measured by the employment and wealth that it creates. In a recent report by Statistics Canada, it was estimated that the Province's culture sector and its suppliers account for 2.5% of GDP and 3.9% of employment. Cultural activities span a number of industries and involve many creative processes. Market opportunities for cultural industries are diverse and include both local and export. For example, the Province's culture plays an integral role in defining its tourism product. Trends which are expected to favourably impact the demand for cultural products in the future include a decline in the average retirement age, an older population structure, higher education levels, and higher incomes.
This industry has produced many exciting projects in recent years and has a number of promising works currently under development. Recent projects include: Extraordinary Visitor; When Ponds Freeze Over; Dooley Gardens, The Divine Ryans -- the first inter-provincial co-production, and Misery Harbour -- the first international co-production between Newfoundland and Norway. Production budgets were estimated at $5.5 million last year and $9.8 million the previous year. Prior budgets were typically $2.0 million per year. The Province offers many unique opportunities for location shoots with scenery and architecture similar to parts of Scandinavia, Ireland and many European cities. Strides have been made in improving the business environment for filmmaking -- today, Newfoundland and Labrador has the highest labour tax credit in Canada for film production.
One of the most interesting developments in the performing arts industry in recent years has been the growth in "Living Interpretation" which locally attracts an audience of more than 70,000 people a year. Living Interpretation makes history and culture come alive through plays and demonstrations based on historical events, people and skills and is a tourism product in growing demand. One of the longest running and most successful interpretation programs is Rising Tide's theatre festival, Summer in the Bight, featuring the Trinity Pageant. Now an anchor event, this "must see" is a major travel generator attracting many of the more than 20,000 visitors annually to the Trinity Bight area, generating additional income and opportunities for bed and breakfasts, restaurants and other tourist related businesses.
Writing and Book Publishing
The provincial book publishing association indicates that almost 50 books were published or reprinted last year. While the majority of this work has been centred around trade (commercial) publications, considerable effort has been expended on the development of educational material for local and other markets. For example, Softwaves Educational Software, associate company of Breakwater Books, recently released the Alpha version of its CD-ROM product Finding the Balance: Ecology and Environmental Issues on a Global Scale. This product, based on a textbook published by Breakwater of the same name, has been recommended by the United Nations Environmental Program. Writing and publishing often provide the creative foundation for the performing arts and film industry. Local author Bernice Morgan's novels, Random Passage and Waiting for Time, are being developed into a series for television. Both German and French rights have been sold for these books.
The Province and its people have long been acknowledged as having a rich history and distinctive qualities that shine through cultural activities. It is the uniqueness of the Province's culture that defines its competitive advantage in many markets and will, no doubt, play an important role in the tourism industry.
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