Budget brings artful cuts

Film and TV funder Telefilm Canada has been hit hard by sweeping budget cuts announced last week by federal finance minister Don Mazankowski. Agency faces up to a $ 15.6 million cut from its $ 134.55 million budget by April 1.

Surprisingly, few industryites are outraged and no one seems shocked.

“The size of the Canadian deficit is a tragedy. This should have been done a long time ago,” said Max Films producer Roger Frappier, referring to the $ 6.24 billion slash that chops a minimum of 2% off every government department’s budget.

In addition, all grants and subsidies in every department–including the federal Dept. of Communications–will be cut by 10% annually.

Frappier, the country’s hottest feature film producer, voices a typical concern about lowering the Canadian deficit. However, he is quick to add, “Cutting 10% of all grants and subsidies without analyzing the specific economics of each sector is an easy way to do it, but one which can be damaging to areas like cinema, which creates a lot of jobs and (re-funnels) its money back into the community.”

Frappier’s partner, Pierre Latour, agrees the government needs to get a grip on the ballooning federal deficit, but thinks such sweeping cuts are irresponsible.

Telefilm Canada topper Pierre DesRoches would likely agree: As soon as the cuts were announced, he headed straight to the nation’s capital, Ottawa, to lobby the Canadian Minister of Communications, Perrin Beatty, who in turn was reportedly in meetings with Mazankowski on Friday.

DesRoches is expected to make a public statement today that will clarify details of the cuts.

Telefilm spokesman Michel Montagne estimates that if DesRoches’ lobbying was unsuccessful, about $ 9.36 million will be cut directly from the $ 54.6 million broadcast fund and the $ 15.6 million film fund, which come from Telefilm’s $ 113.1 million parliamentary allocation.

Montagne expects an additional $ 6.24 million in revenues to be grabbed this April, on top of these cuts.

In addition, Telefilm’s admin budget had 2% (about $ 257,400) silently sliced two weeks ago, leaving it with $ 13.78 million as an operating budget. With the upcoming 3% reduction, Telefilm will have $ 13.37 million for admin in fiscal ‘ 93-’94.

The total $ 15.6 million pending chop is the most dramatic in Telefilm’s 25 -year history.

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