Australian screen industry seeks federal support, launches survey

Matthew Deaner

Screen Producers Australia (SPA), the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA), the Australian Directors Guild (ADG) and the Australian Writers Guild (AWG) have penned a joint letter to the federal government seeking urgent support for its screen industry.

“Screen production is not a job that can be done from home,” said SPA CEO Matthew Deaner. “We are gathering data on the current impact of Covid-19 on the industry via a survey. While this will help to inform our strategy, there are a number of actions that the Government can take now to preserve the industry.”

The joint letter asks the Australian government:

– to recalibrate the support announced in the first round of Government stimulus to ensure it is available to sole traders. This will mean that the support is available to a large number of producers, writers, directors, cast and crew impacted by production shutdowns;

– to support and redeploy agency resources to meet costs associated with current delays and shutdowns of productions;

– for business investment to enable retention of core staff and ensure sector employment on content development during a downturn in order to ensure the ‘pilot light’ is kept burning and industry is able to reactivate quickly.

AWG president Shane Brennan said: “We employ thousands of skilled people in many different crafts and trades who will immediately feel the impact of a shutdown. Without a financial lifeline, many of them will be lost to our industry at a time when this country needs its storytellers more than ever before.”

Diana Burnett, executive director of the ADG, added: “As the community adheres to advice to stay at home, they will be turning to their screens to keep themselves entertained, informed and connected. But unless we put in place mechanisms to support the Australian screen industry, our screens will soon be devoid of new Australian content.”

Paul Murphy, CEO of the MEAA, echoed these sentiments: “Government investment has leveraged great stories about Australian identity. It is not just the closure or suspension of current productions our industry now confronts. The clock will stop on development of future productions. We need urgent assistance to keep people employed and to ensure our industry is here and ready for recovery when this crisis ends.”

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