Letter from the Chair May

On the heels of EA shutting its Salt Lake studio we ask what does Montreal have that Utah doesn't?  We help connect the dots with a vibrant creative community and critical mass. We also look at this month's upcoming events.

Happy May Day and thank you for your continued support of UDEN!


Electronic Arts is the latest videogame company to shutter its studio in Utah after eleven years despite some great work from some great talent here. It's an all too familiar story that we have seen time and again in our creative tech businesses in Utah over the past twenty or so years. Meanwhile, Electronic Arts pledged to invest $500 million CAD into Québec’s video game industry over the next ten years.  What do they have that we don't?  

Critical mass.

About ten years ago, creatives (just like us!) in Montreal began coming together as a community, sharing and collaborating for the benefit of the greater good. They began to have commercial and critical success with their output. More creatives joined in and soon it was like a snowball: people went there for the jobs, companies followed because the people and capacity were there. They attained a critical mass. The economic benefit of the sector was recognized last fall by a $536.8 CAD million tax credit, because “As the Québec Taxation Review Committee clearly showed, the tax credit available to companies in this sector has significant economic spinoffs that benefit Québec society as a whole...” said Carlos Leitão, Québec’s Minister of Finance.

Not too shabby, right? They  are not alone: most states and many nations have digital accelerator policies because they recognize the value of the creative application of technology; the role of the UK's creative industries, including film-making, music, advertising and video games was recognized when the government unveiled its industrial strategy Green Paper in January for boosting the post-Brexit economy.

In Utah our creative sector is not prioritized because the state has a successful economy. UDEN agrees that we cannot build an industry based on incentives nor should we expect to have livelihoods based on handouts. It is up to us in industry to demonstrate that we can deliver economic impact through the quality of the work we create and the value it brings. Not only will we create jobs, but we will be able to demonstrate the economic benefits to Utah and so targeted incentives will follow to accelerate our industry sector.  Montreal, like New York and Austin, is an example of this happening in the past decade: communities creating their own futures.

OK, but how do we make it happen?

1. We need to become a community. Our regular UDEN meetings and the associated networking are intended to help these baby steps toward collaboration and familiarity with each other;
2. UDEN believes that VR and AR are a helpful technologies that all of us in our sector could focus upon and become expert in, thus providing a cause for the collaborative effort by which we become a community;
3. UDEN is working on some initiatives that will hopefully result in a digital apprenticeship program, supporting career pathways and fostering startups; the focus will be on value add (innovation) not tools (as these are already provided by the educational ecosystem) - more on this in the coming months!
4. Whatever other ideas and initiatives that UDEN, our members or partners would like to undertake toward this goal

If you believe what we are trying to achieve is worthwhile, please continue to support us: attend our meetings, sponsor our events, donate money and/or your time. Montreal is one of many case studies that indicate we're on the right path. 

-- UDEN EVENTS -------------------------------------------------

May 6th
-- we have partnered with the Microsoft Store at City Creek and the Utah Gamers Guild in order to provide a comprehensive workshop centered around different ways you can find a career in videogames.  The first hour will be a panel of local (Utah!) industry professionals available to answer questions about what its like working in the video game industry and ways to get yourself into the industry. The second will be a showcase of local indie game development provided by Utah Gamers Guild, showing their games in-development. Food will be provided and registration will open for the in-store tournament for the game For Honor.  RSVP here: http://utahden.org/gaming_career

June 7th -- Our next terrific networking event will be on June 7th!  We'll be revealing more details in the coming weeks but for now SAVE THE DATE and RSVP herehttp://utahden.org/uden_15.  

Our thanks to one hundred of you that supported UDEN 14 last month! An excellent panel talked us through post-production and the opportunities that could lie ahead for this skillset in Utah, plus we heard three excellent Hive Ignite pitches, had some brilliant networking, plus a VIP tour of HUGEsound post production in SLC  - a meeting recap is here: http://www.guv1.com/jonblogs/uden-14

-- UPCOMING EVENTS! -------------------------------------------------

May 2nd -- Spy Hop Annual Benefit
Spy Hop asks its students to reflect on their communities and the world, and then focus their interests and creative passion on digital media arts projects that redefine their worldviews and their lives.  Join us at the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center to celebrate the creative efforts of our students and support them in their work. RSVP ASAP: http://utahden.org/2017_spy_hop_annual_benefit 

May 2nd - Harrison Ford narrates Utah Premiere of TOXIC PUZZLE
A scientist and his team begin a quest for a hidden killer: an environmental toxin that may be causing a rise in ALS and Alzheimer’s. As they study cyanobacteria created by pollution and climate change, the pieces begin to fall into place, and they move closer to an advance that would bring hope into the lives of those who suffer from these brain disorders and take them one step closer to gaining back their lucidity.

Official Selection: 2017 Newport Film Festival. Post-film discussion with director Bo Landin and Paul Cox, scientist featured in the film.

FREE - City Library 210 E. 400 S. Salt Lake City, UT, 84111 7pm

May 4th -- Utah Crowdfunding Summit 2017
May the 4th be with you for Utah's largest training and networking event for crowdfunding as well as the&nbspCrowdfund Hero Competition.  The Utah Crowdfunding Summit was created for tech and social entrepreneurs, as well as for non-profits who are raising money.  We will have some of the country's best crowdfunders, experts on Kickstarter, Indiegogo, Regulation Crowdfunding (Investment-Equity), and much more!  PLUS there is a 20% DISCOUNT CODE FOR UDEN MEMBERS at the website: http://utahden.org/bhans/utah_crowdfunding_summit_2017

May 12th - VR Night

UDEN keeps on saying this is what we should all be focused upon (see commentary above!) - well, this is your chance to find out why!  Whether you’re interested in VR for retail, medical, business, gaming or creative applications, or you just want to find out what all the excitement is about, this show is the place for you to explore the incredible power of Virtual Reality technologies. There will be hands-on demos, information, talks and so much more!  RSVP: utahden.org/vrnight

June 3rd - Distant Worlds: Music from Final Fantasy

This international concert phenomenon features Nobuo Uematsu’s stirring music from one of the most popular video game series of all time, FINAL FANTASY! Conducted by Grammy Award®-winner Arnie Roth, the 94-musician Distant Worlds Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus plays alongside breathtaking HD video direct from SQUARE ENIX. This show is a multimedia feast for the eyes and ears!  Concert includes the performance of FINAL FANTASY XV: Apocalypsis Noctis (just added!), FINAL FANTASY VII: Cosmo Canyon, FINAL FANTASY VIII: Don’t Be Afraid, FINAL FANTASY IX: Roses of May, FINAL FANTASY X: Zanarkand. Tickets on-sale now! http://utahden.org/distant_worlds_music_from_final_fantasy

- almost every day this month you can find terrific, engaging independent film showtimes all across the state! The wonderful Utah Film Center maintain a great list here: https://www.facebook.com/pg/UtahFilmCenter/events/

WEEKLY – SL Circle

Our friends at SL Circle hold weekly lunch & learns and other events on different topics. They also have a monthly beer social last Friday of the month. Details of all these events: https://slcircle.com/events/

Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays – Entrepreneur Launch Pad

As previewed during Hive Ignite at UDEN #13, ELP helps startups and small businesses on the Wasatch front. Mentoring, education, resources for growth.   These occur every week: Tuesdays 1 – 3pm in Orem; Wednesdays 3 – 5pm in Kaysville and Fridays 1 – 3pm in Sandy. More info here: http://www.facebook.com/elputah/

Finally, if you have an upcoming event you would like to share with UDEN members, you can add it FREE here: http://utahden.org/upevents

Looking forward to catching up with you soon!


- J

Jon Dean
Chair, Utah Digital Entertainment Network

Web: http://www.utahden.org
Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/UtahDEN
YouTube: Search for UDEN Utah
Email: [email protected]

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