ABC announces $5m fund to support Australian creatives

The ABC has unveiled a $5m development fund to provide independent Australian creatives with a support network during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The Fresh Start Fund will safeguard local content and support the sustainability and growth of Australia’s production industry during the COVID-19 shutdown. The money will also be focused towards supercharging the development of new Australian content for audiences across multiple genres, including drama, comedy, children’s, factual, music and the arts.

The broadcaster has already begun working with production companies on projects which have been delayed or suspended due to COVID-19 and will be flexible around delivery throughout the pandemic. The ABC is also varying cash flows as appropriate on a title-by-title basis with a focus on helping protect jobs in the independent sector.

The public broadcaster is also acquiring additional Australian content for broadcast on ABC TV and Iview to help keep Australia informed, educated and entertained during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Michael Carrington, ABC director of entertainment and specialist content, said the fund will develop original new content for potential broadcast on ABC channels and online platforms.

“As Australia’s biggest backer of local content, the ABC will provide whatever help possible within our means to shore up the viability of independent producers, who are struggling during this incredibly disruptive time,” he said.

“The Fresh Start Fund will ramp up the development of original and outstanding Australian content to keep our production sector afloat during the COVID-19 restrictions. In times like this we all need to pull together and the ABC remains open for business in supporting Australian talent and stories.”

The funds to support this initiative have been identified by the ABC as a result of the impact of COVID-19 on normal business operations. These business restrictions have given the ABC the opportunity to reprioritise expenditure to support Australia’s production sector at a critical time.

The fund streams are detailed below:

1. Enhanced Development & Production Fund

Supports Australian production companies that have worked with the ABC or gained some industry recognition, across two areas:

Existing productions: Supercharging development assistance to kickstart productions impacted by COVID-19 after the lifting of restrictions.

New concepts: Supporting new stories in any genre about Australian culture and communities, particularly in new formats.

2. Innovation Fund

Supports individual Australian creatives who may not have worked with the ABC previously. The Innovation Fund backs Australian talent with bold and innovative content ideas across multiple genres aimed at audiences under 55.

3. Arts Digital Fund

Supports Australian creatives and production companies with innovative ideas for new arts content, particularly documentary storytelling.

4. Children’s Content Fund

Supports excellence in children’s content across two areas:

Scripted/Factual: Supporting production companies with current animation or live-action development or productions.

Music: Commissioning new pieces of children’s music from talented and prolific Australian musicians for ABC Kids listen.

5. Australian Music Fund

Supports independent Australian artists and musicians across all ABC music networks, including:

New music: Commissioning new works for ABC Classic and ABC Jazz.

Music scholarships: Supporting diverse emerging artists across multiple genres and themes, driven by triple j and triple j Unearthed.

Funding applications open from 4 May to 12 June.


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