Pat Ferns, president and CEO of Canada’s Banff Television Foundation, plans to add an arts congress to the list of events backed by his organization. ‘With the changing structures of funding for arts programming,’ he notes, ‘there’s a lot that everyone can learn from the experience of others. With public broadcasters generally not having the budgets they used to and other specialties coming on screen, it’s important that we explore how everyone can work together to make good things happen.’
Ferns says the arts event will likely debut in 2003. As it is, the Banff Foundation already has plenty to keep it occupied – this year it will launch the first World Congress of History Producers (October 19 to 22), and will again present the World Congress of Science Producers (October 25 to 28) and the Banff Television Festival (June 10 to 15).
Though Banff is the driving force behind the proposed arts congress, Ferns has sought input from American umbrella unit U.S. Independents, Vienna-based international music center IMZ, and Germany’s Goethe Institut.
Meg Villarreal, director of U.S. Independents, explains that the suggestion to hold an arts congress is not a new concept. ‘The idea grew out of the Arts in a New Matrix seminars that were held for several years [in the mid-to-late-'90s] with the cooperation of the U.S., represented by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting; Germany, by the Goethe Institut; France, by the French cultural services office in New York; and Canada, by Telefilm Canada. This was a small, intimate, hands-on workshop/seminar that gave rise to collaborations and co-ventures among the four countries represented.’
Based on discussions with IMZ, Ferns says the arts event may alternate between Europe and North America, though the first will likely take place in Ottawa, Canada, or Washington, D.C.