Screen Australia to axe 12 staff and support for industry training programs after budget cuts



Screen Australia has announced how it will save more than $5m this year with measures including lowering its maximum investment in films to $2m, cutting 12 full time staff members and shedding $500,000 from marketing support.

The publicly-funded body which provides grants to Australian film and drama producers was handed  a $25m cut to its budget by the Federal Government over four years in May’s budget, and has undertaken a review of its processes to find where it could make the savings.

Training funds are also set to be cut with $400,000 stripped from the Talent Escalator program, whilst there will be a “transition away” from direct funding for screen resource organisations, with a move to commission them to do professional development activities handled in house.

Staff cuts will see the body reduced to effectively half of its 2008 size, with 100 full time employees as opposed to 190. CEO Graeme Mason said the review had led to a “renewed focus on the core business of the agency”.

In a posting on the Screen Australia website today Mason wrote: “We are streamlining our operations and making processes simpler and easier for industry, and to the greatest extent possible we have tried to maintain funding for on-screen production. We have also had to make difficult decisions, including a further 10 per cent reduction in staff, cuts to professional development and marketing initiatives, transitioning away from funding industry training organisations, and a relatively small reduction in production investment and project development.

There are challenges before us, but I also see great potential. We will back our creative talent to capitalise on opportunities and take more Australian stories out to the world. We will grow the pie for Australian production by facilitating international collaborations, using advantages such as our talent and our world class production reputation.

“We will reduce process as much as possible and step out of the way of industry, providing more funding as grants, with no copyright interest, so that producers keep more revenue from their productions. We will encourage new models of digital production and distribution that ensure our industry continues to evolve with its audiences.”

AS well as the cuts the review has changed some processes of the organisation, including making all funding up to $500,000 a grant and relinquishing copyright on projects with that level of funding, with a new online application system to be introduced.

The marketing and state of industry departments will be abolished and replaced with a business and audience department to place more emphasis on business development, whilst funding to send talent and producers to international festivals to support their films, which drew criticism last year, have also been revised.

Alex Hayes



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