Screen Producers Australia and the Media & Entertainment Arts Alliance are calling on the NSW Government to reverse its decision on cuts to Made in New South Wales and Post Digital and Visual Effects funds.
Cuts of around $45 million for this financial year, confirmed by the Minister for the Arts, John Graham, have been described as “a disaster” to production in NSW.
SPA CEO Matthew Deaner said, “I’ve been inundated with calls and emails from hundreds of members that are affected. So far, SPA has calculated from information provided in the last week that around 85 projects are affected by this funding cut, with now nearly 30,000 jobs that are generated by it at risk and over $1.4 billion in economic activity that will all but disappear from NSW in the months ahead. However, there are likely to be many, many more jobs and investments lost to the state that will only become apparent over time if the state is slow to act.
“This is nothing short of a disaster for NSW, for the state’s screen industry, and for the credibility of the NSW Government amongst creative workers.
“We know that every dollar invested by the NSW Government results in $20 of economic activity, so these cuts will undoubtedly flow across the state economy, including in regional areas where many projects are often filmed.
“NSW’s screen industry is comprised of more than two thousand, primarily SMEs and independent businesses. They represent nearly half of Australia’s film and production businesses and have been attracted to base their work here in part because of the previous strong commitment to supporting this industry by previous state governments.
“Film and television production businesses work hard to bring a range of financing partners together to fund a production. They rely on the reputation of the NSW Government to secure funding from a range of sources, both public and private. These are complex commercial arrangements that rely strongly on the goodwill and good faith of each partner to conclude.
“The lack of notice about the end to these programs is a significant departure from normal administrative practice as planning and financing for the screen sector is done years in advance of production. That is why it is a deep shock to the state’s screen producers and screen businesses that the NSW Government has now apparently withdrawn as a source of funding and with no warning. This decision appears reckless to the fate of these businesses and the people they employ.
“The screen industry is already facing critical challenges because of the US writer’s and actor’s strikes.
“A subsequent $5 million pledge for the most critical projects, while a positive start, still leaves a significant immediate funding gap and is not enough to ensure that a collapse of projects in the state is averted. SPA estimates that the NSW industry needs at least another $20 million to fill this looming funding gap until the end of the year and avert the crash that is looming.
“SPA is today calling on the Premier, the Treasurer and Minister for the Arts to address this funding gap urgently. The future of the state’s screen industry is at stake,” said Mr Deaner.
MEAA Chief Executive Erin Madeley met with Arts Minister John Graham on Thursday about the cuts, which were initially made by the Coalition Government shortly before the State election in March.
“These cuts will have devastating consequences for the NSW screen industry, jeopardising the state’s ability to attract productions and putting at risk thousands of jobs and small businesses,” she said.
“The Made in NSW program and PDV Rebate are essential parts of the screen industry architecture which act as an incentive to bring production to the state, with the flow on benefits of job creation and economic activity in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
“According to the government’s own figures, for every dollar spent on the Made in NSW program there is an economic benefit of $21. In its first two years alone, it generated $422 million of economic activity and 14,000 skilled jobs by bringing 33 domestic and offshore productions to NSW.
“The industry is already experiencing a slowdown with only one production currently shooting in NSW and due to wrap next week, and the defunding of this program will cause further damage to employment and the viability of small businesses, and result in the loss of skills in NSW.
“This will add to the stress and anxiety of our members in a sector that struggles to provide safe and secure work.
“While we appreciate the fiscal and economic pressure the Minns Government is under in delivering its first Budget, it is bitterly disappointing to the entire screen industry that it is persisting with these cuts made by its predecessor.
“This is a crisis for the credibility and competitiveness the screen sector in NSW.
“A vibrant and healthy screen sector must be a part of the NSW cultural policy, but the consequences of the decision to withhold funding from the sector will be measured not only in the loss of thousands of jobs, but also damage to the state’s reputation and the inevitable hit to the confidence of the people of NSW in the ability of the Minns Government to deliver a creative industries policy that respects our communities.”
MEAA will be calling a mass meeting of all screen members in Sydney this week to discuss what action they can take.
Last week in the NSW Legislative Assembly Shadow Minister for the Arts Kevin Anderson said:
“I give notice of the following motion that this House:
“1) Condemns the New South Wales government plans to cut funding to screen New South Wales Made in New South Wales fund and Post Digital and Visual Effects Fund.
“2) Acknowledges that the cuts will kill off projects that are already underway and significantly impact on jobs and leave the screen New South Wales industry in a perilous position.
“3) Calls on the New South Wales Government to reconsider these cuts and instead bolster the screen industry in New South Wales not further deplete it.”