The Ontario Media Development Corporation (OMDC) recently announced the appointment of Mark Sakamoto as its new Chair. An OMDC Board member since 2008, Sakamoto succeeds Kevin Shea, whose term expired in August after nine years.
Sakamoto is Executive Vice-President for Think Research, an international cloud-based software firm in Toronto. In that capacity he is responsible for driving all aspects of business development. A lawyer, Sakamoto has also worked for a national broadcaster and for a national law firm. He began his career as a music promoter for international live acts and co-founded Vote Out Loud, a non-profit that works with high-profile musicians to encourage political awareness and participation among young Canadians.
Sakamoto has been a significant contributor to the OMDC Board of Directors, having served as Chair of the Strategic Planning Committee and as a member of the Audit Committee. In addition to his experience at OMDC, Sakamoto sits on the Board of the University of Toronto's Trudeau Centre for Peace, Conflict and Justice at the Munk School of Global Affairs. His book, Forgiveness: A Gift from My Grandparents, is a #1 national best seller.
Outgoing Chair Kevin Shea was appointed by the Premier in 2006. Under his leadership, OMDC helped build Ontario’s creative industries to record levels by investing in the development and distribution of critically acclaimed digital content; by enhancing export programs to ensure that Ontario companies and products feature prominently in international markets and compete successfully on the world stage; and by initiating new programs that encourage partnerships, collaboration and innovation across sectors and borders.
“I am proud to welcome Mark Sakamoto to his new role as Chair of the Ontario Media Development Corporation. Under his leadership, OMDC is well-positioned to build on the momentum started by former Chair Kevin Shea. Mark’s breadth of experience will benefit OMDC as well as the vibrant creative industries they work so hard to support.”
- Michael Coteau, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport
“We are delighted that Mark has been appointed as OMDC’s new Chair! His industry knowledge, strategic vision and dedication will help ensure that Ontario remains a leading global jurisdiction for cultural content creation and distribution – and that translates into jobs and investment for our province.”
- Karen Thorne-Stone, President & CEO, Ontario Media Development Corporation
“I am deeply honoured to have been appointed Chair, and I look forward to continuing to work with OMDC’s dedicated Board, management and staff to ensure that Ontario remains a recognized leader in stimulating the creation of creative media content that’s in demand around the world.”
- Mark Sakamoto, OMDC Chair and Executive Vice President, Think Research.
One of the OMDC’s key responsibilities is the administration of the provincial government's highly touted Ontario Music Fund (OMF). Back in June 2015, it was announced that this would be extended from a three-year program to a permanent, recurring grant program.
Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport Michael Coteau and Minister of Finance Charles Sousa made the announcement during the Supercrawl 2015 lineup reveal in downtown Hamilton. "We know that when we promote culture and art, we promote who we are as people," Sousa said. "We know how important this is for our economy."
The (OMF) program was originally announced in 2013, and was intended to be a three-year, $45-million grant to bolster the efforts of Ontario's record labels, industry associations, music startups and promoters.
The fund provides $15 million a year to fund the music industry. The province says that the OMF's first year helped "create or retain" 2,000 jobs and generate $24 million in revenue for "music related businesses."
The super-fund has not been without controversy, however. As part of the government's overall strategy to create new jobs, the OMF was expanded two years back to allow the three major labels - Sony, Universal and Warner Music - to receive provincial funding, resulting in payments of several millions of dollars in the past two rounds, and both Billboard and Toronto Star columnist Michael Geist have criticized the funding agency for a lack of transparency about where and to what results the matching grants are deployed.
FYI reported on this issue recently: goo.gl/ot0IVh