Mélanie Joly says the CBC should take more Vice-like risks

Canada's new heritage minister says cultural institutions — including the CBC — will get more funding, but they must still adapt to survive.

Canada's new heritage minister says the Trudeau government will increase funding to "battered" arts and cultural institutions, including the CBC, but that they should adapt to the digital age.

In an interview with q host Shadrach (Shad) Kabango, Mélanie Joly touted the Liberals' pledge to increase annual federal contributions to the creative sector, including doubling funding to the Canada Council of the Arts from $180 million to $360 million, increasing funding to Telefilm and the National Film Board of Canada, and restoring $150 million to the CBC.

"In order for innovation to happen, you need to have the right ecosystem, and at the core of that ecosystem is arts and culture," said Joly, who has served on boards for various cultural institutions including the Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal, the Governor General's Performing Arts Award and Business for the Arts.

"It's time for Canada to realize the incredible potential of arts and culture," she said. "They are extremely relevant and have been quite battered over the years from underfunding."

Joly said the creative sector employs about 600,000 in Canada and adds up to $47.7 billion per year.

Shad talks to the new heritage minister Mélanie Joly about her intentions for her portfolio, which includes the CBC. (Carolyn Wu/CBC)

But she insists arts and cultural institutions, including the CBC, need to adapt to modern times to stay relevant.

"I really believe a public broadcaster is relevant and important," said the former Montreal mayoral candidate. "But it needs to be adapted to our times."

She notes CBC did well in the '30s and '50s to adapt to a new technology — radio, then television — and it needs to do so again in the digital age.

She points to Vice, an alternative magazine and media company founded in her hometown of Montreal, as a possible blueprint.

"I like the Vice magazine approach, where it's really talking about different subjects in a different manner," said Joly. "So I would like to see the CBC be somehow a risk-taker in terms of content, and that's how I think ultimately it will make sure to attract new audiences and again be relevant."

YOUR LETTERS | Should the CBC should be more like Vice — or does the idea kind of freak you out? Web producer Fabiola Carletti reads audience feedback.


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