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Official response to BIPOC TV & FILM

08 July 2020

In response to the questions posed to Telefilm Canada from BIPOC TV & Film via social media, Telefilm would like to offer the following answers:

How many Black, Indigenous and People of Colour filmmakers and Black, Indigenous and People of Colour-owned production companies have been:

  • Granted funding in the past 5 years?
  • Granted funding about $500k?
  • Granted funding above $1.2 million?
  • Granted funding above $2.5 million?

Telefilm cannot provide detailed numbers for the above, as the data was not collected. We will continue to prioritize data collection in order to identify challenges, and allow us to better provide more directed funding, and customized initiatives tailored to support clients that may not have received any financing from Telefilm Canada, or clients who may not have received adequate support to date.

However, corporate data collected in the recent COVID-19 Top-Up for underrepresented communities provided us with the following statistics:

As backgrounder, emergency assistance was allocated to the operating parent company in proportion to their participation in each project that Telefilm funded over the last three fiscal years (the period from April 1, 2017, to March 31, 2020) and up to %15 of the Relief Fund this was designated for companies who self-identified their ownership, and control by the following identities, and/or control by the following identities: Visible minority/Racialized Persons, Indigenous, LGBTQ2+, person of an Official Language minority communities, persons with disabilities, and women.  A company ownership and control could identify by multiple identities, not just one:

Table for the Total COVID-19 support

The total COVID-19 support is composed of base support and top-ups for underrepresented groups, regional companies and affected productions. For more details, you can access our guidelines.    For example, this table indicates that out of the 471 companies, that received COVID-19 support funds, 64 companies (or 13%) are majority-owned and controlled by a person who self-identified as a visible minority. The total support to these companies is close to $3.8M. Please take note that since a company could identify by multiple identities, we cannot add results for different identities together as this would lead to the double counting of some companies.

Additionally, we can offer the following statistics as part of projects funded from our Indigenous stream:

In the 2019-2020 fiscal year, Telefilm committed $4.3 million to 21 projects led by Indigenous creators through the Development and Production Programs’ Indigenous streams.

  • The Production projects are assessed by an external jury having Indigenous representation, and applicant companies funded through the stream must demonstrate that at least 51% of a project’s copyright is held by a production company whose majority shareholder is Indigenous and that two of the three key members of the creative team (producer, director or screenwriter) are Indigenous.
  • The Indigenous stream of the Production Program has grown each year since launch, from 2017-2018 (14 projects received) to 2019-2020 (23 projects received).
  • In addition, a significant number of projects were made with Indigenous creatives in the key positions of writer, director or producer, but did not meet our definition of an Indigenous production and were therefore not submitted to the juried Indigenous streams.
    • An amount of $5 million was allocated to projects from Indigenous creators through Telefilm’s main development and production programs in fiscal 2019-2020

How many Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour staff work at Telefilm?

There are currently 189 employees at Telefilm. Of those who chose to self-identify upon being hired, this is the information available.  The categories of identification are based on the Employment Equity Act:

Overall:  189 employees

  • Visible Minorities/Racialized Persons: 20%
  • Indigenous: 1%
  • Women: 77%
  • Person w/Disabilities: 1%

Persons at Management to Executive Level (all departments): 29 employees

  • Visible Minorities/Racialized Persons: 21%
  • Indigenous: 0%
  • Women: 55%
  • Person with Disabilities: 0%

Project Financing Team: 12 employees

  • Visible Minorities/Racialized Persons: 8%
  • Indigenous: 8%
  • Women: 75%
  • Person w/Disabilities: 0%

As part of our hiring process, Telefilm also encourages candidates to voluntarily indicate if they are a member of a visible-minority group, a member of an Indigenous community, a woman, a person with a disability, or other. An internal Diversity and Inclusion committee was established in the Fall of 2019.

How many Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour readers does Telefilm employ?

Telefilm does not ask readers to self-identify, so we are not able to provide accurate data. We are reviewing this process as part of our ongoing commitment to supporting diverse talent.

Actions for Canadian Heritage & Telefilm:
  • Change the Telefilm Board of Directors to reflect the racial diversity of the country.

Appointments to the Telefilm Board of Directors are made by the Governor General in Council. Telefilm does not choose who serves.

  • Appoint Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour executives and creative decision makers

Our hiring practices have evolved to encourage more representation among Telefilm’s ranks. Telefilm has also been in the process of creating at least one new role which will focus exclusively on diversity and inclusion.

  • Replace outside readers process with a rotated, peer jury model that ensures Black, Indigenous, People of Colour representation and protects against bias.

The Talent to Watch Program and the Indigenous Stream of the Production and more recently the Indigenous development stream currently have a jury model that reflects this . This model has been effective, and Telefilm is already in the process determining how similar processes can be applied to other programs.

  • Hire Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour staff so these decision makers aren’t working alone

Telefilm is committed to building a skilled, diverse workforce that’s reflective of Canadian society. Our organization promotes diversity and inclusion and encourages candidates to voluntarily indicate if they are a member of a visible-minority group, a member of an Indigenous community, a woman, a person with a disability, or other.

  • Set term limits to protect against favouritism and unconscious bias

As part of its commitment to ensuring that we have a more inclusive pipeline, Telefilm will be reviewing different decision-making and financing models, such as a rotating peer jury system (like we have in Talent to Watch and Indigenous Stream), as well as revising our selective and fast track financing.

  • Earmark money and set benchmarks specifically for Black, Indigenous and People of Colour projects and filmmakers

Telefilm is firmly committed to demonstratable action in creating greater access to our funding portfolios for current and future clients of underrepresented identities and communities who have historically been disadvantaged by our processes, and work culture. We know that there is much work to be done. We are finalizing a strategic framework for Equity and Representation which includes immediate actions. This document will be shared by the end of July.