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Posted: Mar 29, 2012 A MESSAGE FROM SMPIA'S PRESIDENT
A Message from SMPIA’s President:
Last Wednesday was a defining moment in the history of the film industry in Saskatchewan. The message from the budget was the winding up of the Saskatchewan Film Employment Tax Credit. Countless productions over the last 14 years have used this tax credit to finance their projects. Without a tax credit it would be impossible to be competitive in the production world.
We all felt a sense of betrayal and shock at this announcement which was followed by the question "what do we do now". The board of SMPIA was immediately consumed by trying to find answers to the questions "why now" and "what can we do about it". The public support was swift and the media support was amazing. Our issue became a public issue and we benefited from that public support.
Last Friday morning I requested a meeting with the Premier and was told that we could expect a meeting early this week. On Monday of this week a meeting was arranged between the President of SMPIA and the Premier of Saskatchewan as well as other national industry leaders. The meeting, while productive, was tense and frank but it was clear that this Government will not return to the tax credit that was eliminated in the budget. We explained that the decision would create significant hardship for this industry and at minimum that an extension needed to be granted to save the current season and give us time to find a new funding strategy. The Premier also responded that while he did support the industry he wanted something that was sustainable.
Yesterday, I received notice that the tax credit application deadline would be extended until June 30 and that there was a desire to find a new funding program for the industry. There was a desire to look beyond just another tax credit model but a more comprehensive plan that would include industry control of the sound stage, non-refundable tax credits, SaskFilm and other issues. This extension helped two fold. First to give us breathing room to work on a new plan for our industry and second to ensure that as much of this year’s production season could be realized.
The opportunity is now ours. We can be wise and work with the government to work towards a plan that will build a long standing Saskatchewan Industry. The alternative is to be angry and to fight for the return of a tax credit that no longer is available to us. It is my hope that each member of our community will support the Board of SMPIA as they strategically move forward to find a new model of success for the growth and sustainability of this industry. I would also ask that you give the board the time to organize a structure to work through the concepts. It is our promise that any funding models that will be presented to the Ministry will first be presented to the general membership of SMPIA.
I would also ask that you allow the organization to lead on this issue and that all other activities be coordinated through the board and eventually to the committee's that will be structured with your help. One should consider the value of any individual action and whether it brings us closer to the successful conclusion of our goal or draws negative attention creating unwanted setbacks. It is vital that we do not work at cross purposes.
To this end, I would encourage those in the industry who aren't SMPIA members to sign up at www.smpia.sk.ca so you can be kept in the know about the activities of the committees and the actions that are needed. If you haven't been a member before, you can join SMPIA as an associate member for free for the first year. If you are a member of a company or organization that holds a SMPIA membership such as IATSE, DGC, ACTRA or the Filmpool, you can join for only $25.
The board of SMPIA understands your frustration and the need to take action now. If our industry ever needed to show discipline and unity, that time is now. I would please ask you to respect the work that's been done to this point and the future work of the board. If you have concerns or you feel things are not going the way they should, I ask that you call me or a board member to discuss this with you.
Finally, may I say that many national organizations have reached out to us and care about what happens in our provincial industry. They are prepared to help financially and with advice to help us with this situation. The board asked Kevin Dewalt to seek a goal of raising a minimum of $30,000 to be used in managing this cause. To date Kevin has raised $20,000. We appreciate his efforts and those who have donated to help shore up our communications and staffing needs.
Attached to this message is a list of the areas that we are looking for volunteers in as well as the distinct messages that can be used in your conversations to gain additional support from the community.
Thanks you all for your support,