‘Devastating’ cuts to NSW screen budget have been reversed

Cuts to the Made in NSW program and PDV rebate have been reversed by the NSW government.

In a move that’s bound to give joyous whiplash to the local screen community, the NSW government has decided to reverse proposed cuts to screen industry initiatives.

The cuts had only just been put in place by the recent budget – which would have slashed incentives in the film and television industry, translating to an estimated $60 million lost annually. This decision would have also threatened around 85 film and television projects and almost 30,000 jobs across the state, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

The incentives that were set to be lost – the Made in NSW program and PDV Rebate (Post, Digital & Visual Effects) – were originally designed to attract offshore and Australian film and television productions to the state. The Made in NSW fund is the state’s primary production attraction incentive, and has supported projects such as Prime’s The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart, Disney’s The Artful Dodger, and upcoming Mad Max: Fury Road prequel Furiosa.

The NSW government reversed the cuts when, according to Arts minister John Graham, they ‘found funding from elsewhere’ within the Department of Enterprise, Investment, and Trade. That funding, Graham told representatives on Tuesday, would allow them to continue the incentives after all (as reported by Sydney Morning Herald).

Helen Tuck, a Sydney-based hair and makeup artist who was worked on films like Talk to Me and Sissy, said the decision to reverse the cuts was ‘fantastic news’.

‘Crew and actors rely on funding and incentives from the government to secure projects, and we should be trying to keep NSW as a world class hub for film and television,’ Tuck said. ‘In an already difficult year due to strikes in the US, the budget cuts would have been devastating for many of my colleagues who are already struggling to find work.

Read: Australian Writers’ Guild joins solidarity strike for WGA

‘Government incentives for film are a no-brainer, they generate so much revenue and provides thousands of jobs. The reversal of these cuts are proof that when we stand together, we can actually effect change!’

The CEO of Screen Producers Australia (SPA), Matthew Deaner, also said the announcement was a huge relief. ‘We thank the Minister for his robust and deep engagement with SPA and the industry over the past few weeks and the opportunity to present the risk and harm that was being done to our sector.’

‘While there will be some work to do to fully restore NSW’s standing, we appreciate that the Government has listened carefully and responded accordingly,’ Deaner said. ‘I also welcomed the unity shown across the different elements of our industry to work together to address this situation.’

Image supplied by SPA.

Production companies and individuals in the industry were quick to baulk at the budget last week, saying that First Nations programming and children’s content would likely suffer the most if the cuts went ahead.

Erin Madeley, Chief Executive of the MEAA (The Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance), met with NSW Arts Minister John Graham last Thursday after the budget was finalised. The MEAA also held a mass meeting for screen industry workers at Disney Studios in Sydney. The union called on all the federal and state ministers responsible for the screen industry to work towards a collaborative solution.

But no sooner had the online campaign gone up than the NSW government announced that the cuts would be reversed. Cue rejoicing.

MEAA Chief Executive Erin Madeley said the decision to restore the funding showed the government recognised the cultural and economic value of the screen sector in NSW.

‘The State Government has listened to the concerns of screen workers about these cuts and their impact on the industry, and it has acted quickly to guarantee continued funding,’ Madeley said.

‘This will ensure that NSW remains a major destination for film and television production. We look forward to working together with government to develop a sustainable screen policy for the state.

‘The screen industry is an important part of NSW’s cultural and economic identity. It generates hundreds of millions of dollars in economic activity and supports thousands of skilled jobs and small businesses.

‘This decision by the government is the result of action taken by MEAA members and their families, along with all other industry stakeholders including small businesses and production companies over the past week. Close to 200 union members attended a mass meeting in Sydney the day after the Budget where they agreed to launch a campaign to restore the funding.

‘Well over 1,000 people have taken action by contacting their local MPs and key government ministers, including the Premier and the Treasurer, in the past few days. Congratulations to everyone who has been involved for this result.’

ScreenHub has approached NSW Arts Minister John Graham for comment.

Silvi Vann-Wall is a journalist, podcaster, and filmmaker. They joined ScreenHub as Film Content Lead in 2022. Twitter: @SilviReports