Telefilm Canada has raised more than $14-million in private donations for Canadian filmmakers – a first in the federal agency's nearly 50-year history.
The bulk of the new money came from Bell Media and Corus Entertainment, which contributed $8-million and $5.7-million, respectively, to Telefilm's Talent Fund under the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission's tangible benefits policy.
"We're very pleased with the support of Bell Media and Corus Entertainment on this initiative," said Telefilm executive director Carolle Brabant in an interview.
"That was the goal of the Talent Fund, to have the private sector support even more this very important industry in Canada. We're very, very excited with the response we got."
Under the tangible benefits policy, companies that buy television or radio assets must pay a percentage of the purchase price toward programs that will benefit the entire system.
When Bell Media acquired Astral Media last year, the CRTC ordered it to spend some $246.9-million over the next seven years on a variety of arts initiatives, including supporting Canadian filmmakers.
Telefilm, the Crown corporation in charge of promoting and developing the Canadian film industry, launched the Talent Fund in 2012 to encourage private investment. Money raised will go to both emerging and established filmmakers for new projects.
The agency announced the total donation amount to date on Thursday at a meeting of the fund's advisory committee in Toronto. Its goal is to reach $25-million by 2017.
In 2012, the federal government slashed subsidies to a trio of arts agencies – Telefilm, the National Film Board and CBC – by 10 per cent over a period of three years. The $10.6-million cut forced Telefilm to tighten spending on documentaries and dramas at the time.