Market Reports Bring a World of Insight to Creative Companies
Canadian artists and companies working in creative industries looking for global success have a new resource: a series of reports to provide insight into key markets and help them promote and advance their activities abroad, with assistance from the Canadian Trade Commissioner Service (TCS).
The reports are the result of collaboration between the TCS and the Department of Canadian Heritage to increase support for creative industries internationally, given their export potential and their ability to build strong partnerships in particular markets, says Emma Hicklin, a trade commissioner in Global Affairs Canada’s trade sectors bureau in Ottawa.
In its 2016 budget, the Government of Canada made a commitment to support the promotion of Canadian artists and creative industries abroad, says Hicklin, who covers the creative industries sector. “To that end, these reports offer commercial knowledge to Canada’s creative industries interested in international markets and encourage companies to take advantage of assistance offered by the TCS when they are looking to export their creative content and services.”
To date 10 reports have been prepared covering four countries: Germany, France, Ireland and China. The reports cover specific sectors in these markets, Hicklin says, adding that other reports are in the works.
The content of the reports varies between overviews of the creative industries and more export-oriented, “actionable” or practical information about specific issues such as regulatory, tax and financing matters. They are meant to give Canadian clients a better understanding of the opportunities in creative industries in various international markets, Hicklin says.
“And, more importantly, they’re meant to facilitate discussion between creative companies and our trade commissioners abroad, who are there to provide them with export guidance and services.”
The reports “come part-and-parcel with the guidance and knowledge of our trade commissioners,” Hicklin explains. “We encourage Canadian companies interested in the reports to begin a dialogue with the relevant trade commissioner to delve deeper into the intricacies of the market and discover the ways in which the TCS can help them realize their exporting goals.”
Companies and organizations involved in marketing cultural content and services abroad say they welcome the reports and the renewed commitment the reports represent for Canadians working in the field internationally.
“It’s really helpful to have information formalized, and to see what’s going on—what we should be aware of, what are the opportunities and where we can leverage our strengths,” says Heather Farnworth, director of international sales for the Ontario Science Centre, which designs and builds exhibits as well as providing consulting and training for science centres and museums around the world. Currently the centre has five exhibitions that travel internationally, with a strong emphasis on Asia and a new plan to explore opportunities in South America.
Farnworth says the TCS is helpful in supporting the centre’s activities, from hosting events and making introductions to helping it deal with “tricky issues” like tax implications and duties. “The TCS gives us the lay of the land, the pros and the cons, the things we should think about in doing business in particular countries,” she says.
The result is jobs and millions of dollars in revenues for the Ontario Science Centre and for Canada, as well as “brand awareness” for Canada around the world. “We’re always promoting Canada; there’s always something for us to learn as well as offer our colleagues,” Farnworth comments, noting that cultural activities are “critical to innovative thinking,” and especially come through collaborations and partnerships.
“It’s important to understand the needs and the market trends, what’s motivating our clients and what’s relevant to the various institutions we approach when doing business in these countries,” she says.
Ashley Larose is the senior manager of international sales for the Sudbury, Ont.-based Science North, which focuses on producing multimedia productions and large-format films in foreign markets. She says the TCS “really understands our business” and has been an important part of her organization’s success abroad.
“They have their ears open, their boots on the ground and their finger on the pulse of the markets we’re interested in,” she says, noting that the TCS has helped Science North form relationships with partners, which is critical in regions such as Asia. “There is an inherent trust there that has been really, really helpful.”
International partners have a renewed interest in dealing with Canada, Larose notes, and they recognize that Canadians are leaders in areas such as informal education. “People understand that there is talent here, there’s great support from the government for science initiatives and we’re a great model for the world to follow,” she says, stressing that it takes time and money to develop the right approach in markets abroad “but it does pay dividends.”
Henrik Meyer is a film producer and president of the Vancouver, B.C.‑based film production company Red Cedar Films Inc.. He says that in dealing with the TCS, “we have had terrific support, we’re grateful for that.”
With the help of trade commissioners in Berlin, Red Cedar entered into a co-production with a German company in 2016 to make a documentary film called The Whale and the Raven. The film, which will be completed next year, profiles a couple who live on a remote island in northern British Columbia to research endangered whales in the waters of the Great Bear Rainforest.
Creative Industries Market Reports
The Canadian Trade Commissioner Service (TCS) and the Department of Canadian Heritage have produced a series of reports to help Canadian creative companies understand and navigate specific international markets and sectors. The reports available to date include:
Animation Market in France
Film Financing in France: How it Works
Music Market in France
Television Financing in France: How it Works
Book Market in Germany
Film and Television Market in Germany
Performing Arts Market in Germany
Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) Technology Market in Germany
Creative Industries Snapshot: Visual Arts, Museums and Exhibitions, Theatre and Live Entertainment, Film and Video, Video Games and VR
Creative Industries in Ireland: Animation, Film and Television, Visual Effects (VFX) and Special Effects
Meyer says the TCS has been “crucial” for the partnership. “They are the matchmakers,” he comments, and also helped the companies structure the co-production. “The trade commissioners know many of the answers, and if they don’t, they know where to find them.”
The new market reports will be an important resource in working abroad, he adds, from providing an overview to dealing with tax questions and helping Canadian companies look for funding agencies. “It can be quite complex and complicated.”
Hicklin says that the markets covered by the reports offer opportunities for Canadian creative industries and are key targets for exporters in the sector. Specific sub-sectors were chosen based on the market and where there is the most potential for commercial success. Future reports will cover other priority and emerging markets of interest.
Challenges for Canadian companies in the field vary by sub-sector and by target market, but generally Canadian creative companies are up against a lot of competition, regulations and policies designed to protect domestic creative industries in foreign markets, she says. Trade commissioners can help identify such challenges, based on the market, and provide guidance for navigating them.
“Whatever the business needs, our trade commissioners will do what they can to assist,” Hicklin says.
Many companies involved in creative endeavours are typically small, independent firms that may not have the resources necessary to execute an export strategy, she notes. The TCS can help supplement the activities necessary to target and succeed in a market, for example by providing insight on the intricacies of doing business there or by matching Canadian companies with local contacts to pursue specific opportunities.
“The market reports are simply one piece of the work being undertaken to increase support to Canadian creative companies, by offering market intelligence and an introduction to our trade commissioners,” Hicklin adds.
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