Banff TV Foundation plans arts congress

With the success of the Banff Television Festival and The World Congress of Science Producers firmly under his belt, and the World Congress of History Producers expected to be just as successful, why would Pat Ferns take on anything else? It's all about serving the niches in need, he says.
April 19, 2001

Pat Ferns, president and CEO of the Banff Television Festival, has spied another niche that he feels might benefit from its own event – arts programming. Ferns has something of a soft spot for arts as he was a one-time producer of shows in the genre, but that isn’t his only reason for proposing an arts congress. ‘I think there’s an appetite for this,’ he says. ‘I think with the changing structures of funding for arts programming 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 specialities coming on screen, it’s important that we explore how everyone can work together to make good things happen.’

Establishing an arts congress would also allow the Banff TV Foundation to pursue its mandate, and take some of the pressure off of the Banff Television Festival. Ferns explains: ‘We don’t want to grow the television festival much larger, because we think it will become something quite different if we do. So, part of the challenge is then figuring out where do you divert people to where you’ll still be able to provide them with the same kind of innovation, excellence and opportunity that’s associated with the festival. The first opportunity we had to step in was the World Congress of Science Producers, and that got us thinking about other niches that are not as well served.’

Ferns says planning for the arts congress is still in early days, though there was some progress at MIPTV. In Cannes, Ferns says he had the chance to sit down with various parties, including U.S. Independents and IMZ (International Music Centre, a Vienna-based association of cultural and music program producers from around the world).

Based on discussions with IMZ, Ferns says the arts congress may alternate between Europe and North America, though the first event – tentatively scheduled for 2003 – will most likely take place in Ottawa, Canada, or Washington D.C.

About The Author
Barry Walsh is editor and content director for realscreen, and has served as editor of the publication since 2009. With a career in entertainment media that spans two decades, prior to realscreen, he held the associate editor post for now defunct sister publication Boards, which focused on the advertising and commercial production industries. Before Boards, he served as editor of Canadian Music Network, a weekly music industry trade, and as music editor for As content director, he also oversees the development of content for the brand's market-leading events, the Realscreen Summit and Realscreen West, as well as new content initiatives.