Building Waterloo's creative media community

The first time I visited Waterloo I was struck by the energy and support that came freely from the participatory startup community.

It was a dreary February evening and I was in town on a last minute decision to promote the Canadian Innovation Exchange (CIX) as a sponsor of Start Up Camp Waterloo. However, the energy and excitement inside the Accelerator Centre (AC) was palpable and in striking contrast to the weather outside. I was smitten and knew, at that moment, that this startup community was one that I needed to be a part of.

To be sure, the idea of community has always resonated with me. Community is what we’re all drawn to: it gives us a sense of belonging; shared values and interests; and a network to support and call upon. Regardless of where I am, whether as a committee member on the Scarborough Walk of Fame, as a part of the Canadian Film Centre family, or even the Toronto film and television industry, I have always tried to make a difference within that community.

Impact of MBET

In 2012 I was ecstatic to be accepted into the Conrad Centre family. Joining the Master of Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology (MBET) program at the Conrad Centre was an opportunity for me to connect with yet another community that I could learn from and in time, hopefully, contribute to. The learning, experience and networking that membership provides has lead me to my current social venture and community building role as Executive Producer of the CREATE Region Symposium 2014.

It was Doug Beynon’s (Conrad's Entrepreneur-in-Residence) tireless inquiries into my ambitions that exposed my desire to build a production studio in the region. And Doug, as he’s wont to do, then connected me with folks in town that he knew were engaged in similar-type activities. These folks of course connected me with other folks and so on, and so on…

The end result is that in the fall of 2013, the CREATE Region concept was developed from discussions with stakeholders in the community and centred on the identified need articulated in the Kitchener Economic Development Strategy 2011-2016 (KEDS.11) to support and develop the unlimited growth potential of the emerging digital media sector in the Waterloo Region.

CREATE Region

 Creative Enterprise Initiative

CREATE Region’s general mandate is to focus on delivering services and programming to the creative media sector, to spotlight and coordinate activities within the sector, and to facilitate linkages while advocating for and managing supportive sector policies.

This important work begins with the CREATE Region Symposium 2014 on May 30th that will bring together academics, industry leaders, investors, policy makers and practitioners from the creative industries to discuss the way forward to building our own truly competitive creative media cluster in the Region of Waterloo.

CREATE Region is a startup that is focussed on developing and building a community in the content layer of digital media. It won’t end with the symposium - stay tuned! The community has embraced this necessary and meaningful conversation that we’ve started. And, like that evening a few winters ago, the energy and excitement is still palpable.

Want to attend the Symposium?

The event is near capacity but I have 5 registration spots available to members of the Conrad Centre family who are truly interested in being active in the content layer of digital media. E-mail me for more information.

About Rawl

Rawl Banton started his career in traditional media - radio, film and television - and has seamlessly transitioned into the world of digital media. A practitioner and independent consultant, Rawl’s projects have been experienced by varying audiences at prestigious events and festivals such as the Banff Summer Arts Festival, opening night at nextMEDIA: The Future of Digital Content (FDC), The Power Plant (PowerBall 9:Revolutions) and as a special guest of the Consul General of Canada in San Francisco for The Great Canadian Whiteout at the Game Developers Conference.

Rawl Banton

Production residences at the Canadian Film Centre Media Lab and the Banff New Media Institute complement Rawl’s experience in original intellectual property creation. Further, Rawl’s completion of the Independent Film & Television Producers program coupled with his Master of Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology (MBET) from the University of Waterloo provide him with a great balance of practical experience and formal training in media development and commercialization.

Rawl has been awarded content development and production contracts for radio, television, mobile, and interactive installations. He continues to develop original projects with his company Animyth Studios and is steadfast in his resolve to help strengthen the capacity of the content production community in Region of Waterloo.

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