Business was bustling at the second annual World Education Market, held in Vancouver from May 21 to 24, but not for those in the docs biz. The four-day international market, dedicated to the business of education and training, was attended by over 2000 delegates, including representatives from 347 exhibiting companies from 30 countries around the world – a marked drop from last year’s total of 451.
The decrease in exhibiting companies might, in part, represent the many industry folk who walked away empty-handed last year. Frank Batavick, VP acquisitions and product development for Princeton, U.S.-based Films for the Humanities & Sciences, attended last year’s WEM with seven colleagues in search of docs that could be used in the classroom. Says Batavick, ‘It was pretty lean pickings. There were not many producers there. It was pretty disappointing. Those producers that did show up [were] the clients I see all the time, so I didn’t find the market helpful.’ Not one of the seven reps returned this year.
Anthony Utley, director of television distribution at BBC Worldwide decided to give WEM a second chance, but this time around he went as a guest of Reed Midem. Utley reports from the market floor: ‘There’s not a television element here, but my colleagues from publishing, English language training, and foreign language training – anyone involved in the business of non-theatrical education – are doing really well.’ This is not to say that WEM doesn’t strive to capture the TV market. Says Utley, ‘There is representation here from TVOntario and The Knowledge Network, but it’s not major stuff at all – they might be acquiring the odd show for a couple of thousand dollars, but it’s really not a television market.’
On the up side, Utley says that WEM has found a focus – not in docs, but in various non-theatrical tools that aid education. ‘This year it’s not overly busy, but there are worthwhile people here. WEM seems to have found its level, and there is a much greater air of confidence about what’s going on.’