New Brunswick Film Tax Credit update: out with the old, in with the new. UPDATED: OFFICIAL RESPONSE FROM MEDIA NB

Ok, so there appears to be some hope for our colleagues in New Brunswick.  Details have emerged regarding how the province plans to phase out the current Film Tax Credit, and news of new Digital Media Tax Credit is mentioned.  Here’s the release I was sent, it originated from the office of Deputy Minister Carolyn MacKay, and was addressed to New Brunswick Producers and Media New Brunswick.

As  you are aware, New Brunswick is facing some tough economic realities that are very challenging and have necessitated some difficult decisions.  This is certainly one of them.

Government has made a decision to phase-out the New Brunswick Film tax credit.  This was announced on Tuesday, March 22, 2011, by Finance Minister Blaine Higgs as part of the Budget speech.

The Government has made a commitment to honor all existing tax credit related commitments and contracts with producers.  Please be assured that all approved projects and commitments will be respected.  The phase-out of the tax credit will be implemented in the following manner:

Pre-production applications for the film tax credit that have received Wellness, Culture and Sport’s approval prior to March 22, 2011 will continue to be eligible for the film tax credit.

Productions that have received a development loan or equity investment from Wellness, Culture and Sport prior to March 22, 2011 will continue to be eligible for the film tax credit.

Respecting other funding partner timelines, new tax credit related applications may be presented to the Arts Development Branch of the Department of Wellness, Culture and Sport until April 5th, 2011. New pre-production applications for the film tax credit that are received on or before April 5th, 2011 will be reviewed by the Department and may receive pre-approval to be eligible for the film tax credit.

During the upcoming year, work will be undertaken on the development of a digital media tax credit.

Any questions concerning the phase-out of the New Brunswick Tax Credit can be addressed to Nathalie Dubois, Director or Sandra Jamieson, Assistant Director of the Arts Development Branch, Department of Wellness, Culture and Sport.

Media related questions concerning the phase-out of the New Brunswick Tax Credit can be addressed to Jane Matthews-Clark, Director of Communications for the Department of Wellness, Culture and Sport.

Good news, compared to the death sentence the government appeared to be handing down a few short days ago.  This is clearly some consolation, but it should be noted that just last year, the government made a ten year commitment to their film tax credit, and while this new system may do the trick, the fact remains that they’ve clearly gone back on that promise.

As an aside, does it not strike you as a ridiculous Public Relations snafu to have not announced the digital media credit at the same time as they cut the funding to the existing credit?  Could’ve saved a whole community a few sleepless nights.

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UPDATE: Here’s the official response from Media NB

The producers of New Brunswick received a memo from Carolyn MacKay, Deputy
Minister of Wellness, Culture and Sport, this afternoon. After informing producers that they must have their 2011 applications for tax credits in by …a tight deadline of the 5th of April or lose out of pre-committed funding, the memo made a brief mention of a possible future “digital media tax credit”. Specifically it says: “During the upcoming year, work will be undertaken on the development of a digital media tax credit.”

Due to the vagueness of this line, we have little confidence in this announcement.

The government decided, without proper consultation, to eliminate the present NB Film tax credit without considering what impact it would have on our industry. We do not believe that government is capable of developing a new digital media tax credit that will address the needs of our industry, without our involvement.

Until this new tax credit is in place it is imperative that the current tax credit system stay.

Also, there have been no formal announcements about the fate of NB Film as a division, nor about the future of their programs including equity investments, development loans and travel grants for producers.

We thank you for understanding in this most difficult time for our industry.

Yours truly,

Maurice André Aubin
President, Media NB/APNBP

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