ISO Distributes Over $12.6 million to Indigenous Content Creators and Initiatives in Last Fiscal - ISO-BEA

Toronto – The Indigenous Screen Office (ISO) is thrilled to announce $12.6 million in funding  for the Indigenous screen sector over the last year, with over 300 Indigenous-owned companies and individuals supported. Funding support has also gone to production and post-production crews, training initiatives, partnerships and sectoral development projects in the 2021-22 fiscal year, including a Netflix-funded Apprenticeship and Cultural Mentorship program. In less than two years since the pandemic began, the ISO has delivered over $20 million in funding. 

The full annual Canadian Heritage funding of $13 million was spent within eight months of signing the ISO’s first annual contribution agreement, while at the same time building the required organizational capacity, program design and infrastructure, including the new online application portal ISO Apply and the hiring of five new full-time roles. 

“The team hit the ground running and worked tirelessly to ensure the successful delivery of funding and initiatives to the Indigenous screen-based sector,” said Kerry Swanson, Co-executive Director. “The ISO’s trajectory over the last two years demonstrates what the Indigenous screen sector is capable of with real funding and resources.”

In 2020-21, the ISO disbursed over $3.8 million in development funding for Indigenous, Black, and People of Colour creators in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the pressing need for equity in Canada’s screen sector, as well as an additional $3.8 million in Covid emergency, sector development and apprenticeship grants. 

In 2021-22, ISO funding went exclusively to Indigenous-created content and Indigenous-led sector development initiatives through the following envelopes: Story Fund (Development, Production and Enhancements), Sector Development Grants, Netflix Apprenticeship and Cultural Mentorship, and Strategic Initiatives. 

“We are continuously monitoring the effectiveness of our programs and listening to content creators as we improve our funding programs each year,” said Kristy Assu, Director of Funding Programs.

The ISO gave funding to projects in nine provinces and territories last fiscal, with B.C. having the highest number of projects supported, followed by Ontario then Alberta.

“We see continued growth in the Indigenous screen sector across the country and larger budget projects creating new economic opportunities and exciting avenues for artistic and cultural expression,” said Swanson. 

“It’s inspiring to see how many productions are incorporating Indigenous languages,” said Assu. “There are 80 projects either in development or production that will include an Indigenous language, seven of which will be entirely in an Indigenous language.”

The Netflix Apprenticeship and Cultural Mentorship program saw $450,000 awarded to 19 recipients. “We are thrilled that Netflix has committed to this program for a fourth year,” said Swanson. “They are supporting our mission of Indigenous narrative sovereignty and the development of the sector.”

The last year also saw the ISO continue to work with partners on strategic initiatives including Canada Media Fund, Telefilm Canada, APTN, CBC, CMPA, Creative BC, and Ontario Creates.

More announcements will be released soon regarding partnership programs and initiatives. 

Some of the 2021 highlights include:

  • The ISO is supporting new digital works including VR, virtual production, augmented reality and groundbreaking Indigenous new media labs, as well as a circumpolar 360 short film project premiering at the Venice Biennale.
  • The Rogers & Creative BC Indigenous Fund provided 30 BC-based development grants with a 35 per cent funding top up, for a total of $220,500 in additional funds.
  • In its granting programs, the ISO supported gender parity and diversity including: 40.12% female, 23.45% male, 21.6% 2SLGBTQIA+, 0.61% with a disability, 0.61% who are deaf, and 8.64% who have a non-visible disability (information gathered from voluntary data reports).
  • The Sector Development program funded projects that incorporated training and learning of new skills development, with approximately 95 contract or F/T roles created and 188 trainees across all projects.
  • Netflix Apprenticeship and Cultural Mentorship grants supported 13 companies and six individuals.

About Indigenous Screen Office
The ISO fosters Indigenous narrative sovereignty by increasing support and representation of Indigenous Peoples throughout the screen industries.