Screen Australia Hit By New Round of Budget Cuts

Australia’s federal government is to cut nearly A$1 million ($750,000) per year from the budget of Screen Australia for the next four years.

The organization said that it will likely have to make cuts to the funding programs it operates, supporting development, production and enterprise development.

The federal government said Tuesday that it will require cuts of A$910,000 per year (US$683,000), adding up to A$3.6 million over the four-year span. These cuts are in addition to major cuts of A$38 million (US$28.5 million) made last year.

The Tuesday cuts were part of a reallocation that sees more than A$100 million moved from the Australia Council to the Ministry for Arts in order to set up a national excellence program. It is also intended that the cultural sector attract more private-sector funding support.

“Since its formation from three entities in 2008, Screen Australia has reduced its operating costs by 44%. While the agency will continue to contain operating costs, the budget reduction will be apportioned across our funding programs,” Screen Australia said in a statement.

Industry organizations were more emphatic. Matthew Deaner, CEO of Screen Producers Australia, called them “disproportionate,” and said that the federal government must compensate by increasing the producer offset programs for television production.

In an interview with Variety prior to Tuesday’s announcement, Screen Australia CEO Graeme Mason said that the impact of the previous round of cuts had mostly been felt within the organization, rather than in what it funds.

“Screen Australia had a 10% budget cut. We absorbed as much as we could by taking it out of overheads. We did reduce some funding into development. There’s no point developing stuff that is not going to get funded. There was a slight reduction in factual. We are pretty much continuing onscreen,” Mason said in late April.

“This further cut of almost A$1 million per year is both significant and major. Screen Australia’s investment in feature film, drama and documentaries is critical to supporting the small businesses in our sector and the content they create for Australian and global audiences. These cuts are likely to come out of project investment following the existing operational efficiencies that have been implemented. As a result there will certainly be less investment in diversity,” Deaner said.

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