Building Michigan’s creative economy

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

MFO’s new strategic plan focuses on improving perception, building partnerships and strengthening education alliances

LANSING, MI – Fostering a positive perception of Michigan as a place of unparalleled innovation in design and the arts while increasing jobs in the state’s creative industries are top priorities for the Michigan Film Office (MFO). 

The key focus areas are revealed in the newly published Michigan Film Office Strategic Plan, a series of action steps drawn from an extensive three-month survey of policymakers, industry partners along with film and creative industry stakeholders on the state and national level. (NOTE: Click here to download 2015 Michigan Film Office Strategic Plan)

“We are addressing challenges to the sustainability of our mission, and forging a new path that will transform the Michigan Film Office as a catalyst in the evolution of the state’s creative industries,” Jenell Leonard, MFO commissioner, who began her tenure in February. 

The recommendations for transforming MFO place emphasis on further building a positive perception of the state for its creativity/innovation legacy, and strengthening regional partnerships with the private sector, cultural institutions, arts groups and philanthropic community.

In addition, the plan calls for improving collaborations with the state’s educational community, including high schools, colleges, and arts programs as part of a broader job-retention strategy.

In recent years, MFO’s annual appropriated budget has been intensely debated. Part of the impact from the uncertainty regarding long-term funding has created ambiguity about the sustainability of the incentive program. The newly crafted strategic plan aims to chart a long-term course largely unaffected by budgetary changes, while building partnerships with private-sector entrepreneurs and strengthening alliances with the state’s educational community.

“We are committed to providing services to the Michigan film community and further developing opportunities for the diverse range of creative services,” said Leonard.

Currently, in addition to administering the film incentive program, MFO assists production companies working in film and digital media, provides scouting services and serves as liaison to obtain permits and licenses for productions. MFO’s industry directory provides a comprehensive list of more than 5,800 site locations throughout the state along with contact information per county for vendors and production crews.

“The MFO will continue administering the film incentive program, per statute, but considering the wide range of creative industries in Michigan, we are also committed to pursuing additional areas to help cultivate an exciting environment where talented, creative people thrive, businesses flourish and the state is in the international vanguard of inspiring places to live, work and play,” said Leonard.

During fiscal year 2011, Michigan’s creative industries generated $3.6 billion in wages (3.1% of total state wages), according to Creative Industries report coordinated by Creative Many, a statewide advocacy and public policy organization.

Creative industries employment represents approximately 74,000 employees in 9,800 businesses, including advertising, publishing, design, film/audiovisual, broadcasting, architecture, cultural/heritage, art schools, music, visual arts and performing arts. Counties with top creative industries employment including Oakland, Wayne, Kent, Washtenaw and Macomb.

Incentive to create:

MFO has served the state since 1979. From 2008-11, the office administered tax credits and since 2012, the office has overseen disbursement of a cash-rebate program as a means to attract film production to the state. 

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