This report, prepared by Hill Strategies, uses 71 interviews with media artists, arts organizations and funders to examine the realities, functioning and importance of Canada's media arts sector. This study marks the first phase of research into an under-researched areas of the arts, with the next phase focussing on data development and analysis.
The authors found that the media arts sector comprises a broad range of artistic work in film, video, audio and new media. The sector was found to be "rapidly changing, difficult to define, very active and struggling to find money for its activities". Interviewees indicated that the production and exhibition of works by Aboriginal and culturally diverse artists are key to the development of the media arts.
The report notes that the development and adoption of digital technologies has been the biggest change in the media arts sector in the last ten years. There has been an increase in the number of artists owning their own equipment, leading to the sense that the media arts sector has become a "more scattered community, making it harder for organizations to attract members and to provide networking opportunities and a sense of community".
While many artists, especially younger artists, are turning to the media arts to explore their creative vision, many interviewees expressed concern over the exhibition opportunities for their works. In particular, many interviewees expressed the need for "more permanent venues and a better-structured, cross-country exhibition circuit for media artworks", "a more active and better funded distribution network in Canada", as well as better communication among artists, service organizations and government agencies. Some respondents spoke of the need to improve the visibility of the sector, including more media literacy work in schools, universities and museums.
The report recommends priority areas for action to meet the challenges, needs and gaps identified in the interviews, including recommendations concerning: distribution and exhibition opportunities; information sharing and networking among artists, arts organizations, service organizations and government agencies; increased funding for media artists and media arts organizations; the development of ways to "manage the landscape, address competing priorities and manage the varied and diverse set of practices within the sector"; raising the profile and recognition of the sector; and improving artists' remuneration across artistic sectors.