The financial cutbacks were revealed Tuesday as part of Australia’s annual ‘Mid Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook’ for the 2015-16 financial year. They come amid an economic slowdown sparked in part by the reduction in the country’s commodities exports.
“The Government will achieve savings of A$13.2 million (US$9.52 million) over five years through efficiencies to arts and cultural programmes administered by the Australia Council, Screen Australia and the Attorney General’s Department. The savings from this measure will be redirected by the Government to repair the Budget and fund policy priorities,” the MYEFO said.
The cuts come as Australia is using subsidies and incentives programs to attract foreign films to shoot in the country. According to the budget statement, some A$47.3 million (US$34.1 million) over two years will be provided by the federal government to Fox’s Ridley Scott-directed “Alien: Covenant,” and the next instalment of Disney-Marvel’s “Thor.”
The MYEFO statement shows the government spending A$17.6 million (US$12.7 million) in 2016-17 and A$29.7 million (US$21.4 million) on the two Hollywood projects. The two projects will also be eligible to receive ‘offset’ financing for their production and post-production spending in Australia.
The cuts to Screen Australia follow two previous cuts in the past two years and mean that funding for the organization are being slashed by A$51.5 million (US$37.1 million). The latest cuts will be spread over four years.
“For the third time in 18 months there has been a funding cut to Screen Australia. This efficiency dividend comes after almost A$4 million (US$2.88 million) was cut over the forward estimates earlier this year, on top of A$38 million (US$27.4 million) the year before. In the five years to 2018-19 this will total more than A$50 million in combined cuts across budgets. This hacking at the base of Screen Australia through isolated cuts is damaging to the industry,” said Matthew Deaner, CEO of trade body Screen Producers Australia.
A spokesman for Screen Australia told local media that the cuts represent a reduction of 3%. Last year it received A$100.8 million (US$72.7 million). Next year it will receive A$82.2 million (US$59.3 million).
The organization has some financial reserves left from its predecessor the Film Finance Corporation and has the freedom to spread the cuts over the period. But the spokesman was unable to identify areas where it planned to make cuts.