Quebec’s multimedia lobby is asking the province for several new measures to focus programs intended to help the industry. Invited by the provincial government to present a report on the industry to a panel examining proposed changes to the audio/visual funding regime, the Alliance NumériQC’s Michel Chioini, senior VP and treasurer, asked the government to conduct a separate hearing into how several programs to aid the sector could be brought under the same roof and to begin treating the industry as equal to its more established film, television and audio counterparts. Chioini tells Canadian NEW MEDIA the first step to building a stronger multimedia industry in the province will be to establish a dialogue and partnership with the government. "We don’t ask for impossible things. What we want to do is to build a partnership with them. We want to be aggressive, but in the right way," he says. "We know the industry, the problems, and we know the audio-visual industry, and we want to be treated similarly to that. We don’t want to invent needs. We have needs. We have the industry. The population is ready to receive multimedia content – good content. We want to tell the government, ‘hey, we have to build a multimedia policy across the province to make sure we can build something solid.’" Re-instate multimedia program Among other changes, Chioini says the Alliance is asking for a re-instatement of the old Programme d’aide à la production de titres multimédias, which had been administered by the Société de Développement des Entreprises Culturelles (SODEC) under the province’s Ministry of Culture and Communications. The fund has been suspended for the past two years. The Alliance would like it to start back up again, this time with money for development and production, as well as marketing, along with an expanded envelope of funding. He notes, however, that working with SODEC to bring the fund back will be a long process and that it’s premature to begin talking about specific dollar demands. Another way the government could help, says Chioini, would be to increase the dollars available in another fund, the Fonds de l’autoroute de l’information (FAI). While the program to put French content online has been well received, it has over 600 funding requests per year. "We think this program is a good program, but it’s very, very, very selective – they have a lot of demand, it’s incredible. It’s very difficult to (win funding) from them," Chioini says. Another program offered by the Quebec government, its well-recognized and praised labour tax credit, is performing well, he says, but is offered by a third agency, Investissement Québec, which is in charge of research and development. While the credit works well, says Chioini, it would be more suitably managed by a cultural agency such as SODEC. It’s a theme he returns to often, arguing the FAI fund should be housed as well with the other two. "We see multimedia more in a cultural way than R&D," he argues. Chioini says housing the various programs under a single cultural agency would be a good way to recognize multimedia as a cultural industry sharing many ties with the film sector, for example. "Yes, we would like to have more money, but we would like to be seen more like the cinema industry. We have the same difficulties. We have almost the same people who work on multimedia titles and cinema – it’s many of the same people who work on those products. We want to be seen as an industry apart, but very similar. So we would also like to have a public hearing just for our industry." Chioini says he hopes such a hearing could be arranged within the next 12-18 months.