Leading industry organisations including Screen Producers Australia and the Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance are calling on the NSW Minns government to retain the Made in NSW screen funding program, which will be all but axed in the coming state budget.
The cuts reportedly include reduced funding for the Post Digital and Visual Effects (PDV), the Digital Games Development Rebate Program, and the axing of the Made in NSW Fund.
The Made in NSW program was launched in 2016 with an initial government investment of $20 million over two years. It helped bring 33 domestic and international productions to the state, generating $422 million in expenditure and creating more than 14,000 skilled jobs.
Film and television projects that have been generated from these funds include Doctor Doctor, Janet King, Love Child, Lost Flowers of Alice Hart, Mr In Between, Mystery Road, Total Control Mother and Son, Rake, Mad Max 2: Furiosa, and Thor: Love and Thunder.
“This cut is a disaster for screen practitioners both here in NSW and beyond. It shows disappointing short-term thinking about the value of the screen industry”, said SPA CEO Matthew Deaner.
“To cut a fund that reportedly brings in $20 for every dollar invested and creates thousands of jobs is hard to comprehend, especially when, after years of stagnation and setbacks, the sector had been so optimistic about its future prospects.
“With the Australian Parliament on the verge of regulating the reinvestment in Australian content by streaming platforms, this action by the NSW Government will see this state missing out on the new investment and job opportunities available.
“The timing of this cut is particularly hard to understand, just when creative industries are seeking to engage positively with the new government in the development of the state’s first Arts, Culture and Creative Industries Policy. Submissions had barely closed on this consultation when news of these cuts was announced.
“Other States like Queensland, Victoria and Western Australia are awake to the opportunities the screen industry offers to smart governments willing to recognise the growing creative industries by facilitating investment and creating jobs to meet the growing global demand for quality screen content.
“While other States are actively opening doors for screen industry growth, NSW is slamming them shut. NSW cannot afford to be complacent and send such a strongly negative signal to the world as it is doing with these cuts.
“SPA members indicated in SPA’s 2022 Screen Business Support Survey that Screen NSW already has a lot of ground to make up to address negative perceptions, which will be especially difficult without the support of its own government.”
MEAA is also seeking an urgent meeting with Arts Minister John Graham to clarify future plans for the screen industry including the Made in NSW program, which is a victim of previously unknown cuts made by the former Coalition government before the state election in March.
“These government programs have been essential for NSW to be a credible and competitive destination for screen productions,” said MEAA Chief Executive Erin Madeley.
“Sydney and NSW have established infrastructure, a skilled workforce and stunning locations, but these alone are not enough to ensure there is a consistent stream of screen work in the state. That is why the Made in NSW program and the Post, Digital and Visual Effects Rebate have been so important in attracting high-quality domestic and offshore production to the state.
“The reality is NSW is competing on a global stage for screen productions and government funding and incentives can make a real difference when studios are deciding where to locate a production.”
MEAA has made a submission to the review of the NSW Arts, Culture and Creative Industries Policy which highlighted that the screen industry was fundamental to the future of this sector.
“We appreciate the NSW Budget is under pressure in a difficult economic and fiscal environment and that the cuts to this program were made by the previous government,” she continued.
“But we urge the Minns government to either reinstate this program or to meet with the screen industry to discuss alternative strategies to ensure NSW remains a leader at home and abroad.”