Feds add a bit of cash to arts and screen institutions

Minister Paul Fletcher pops out a taster for the budget next week. Mingy or targeted? You decide.

Paul Fletcher’s Department of Communications, Cyber-safety and the Arts has provided some cash to support the various cultural institutions, just a week before the formal rollout of the much-delayed federal budget.

According to the announcement, eight institutions will collectively receive $22.9 million in 2020-21, including:

  • $2.3 million for the Australian Film Television and Radio School
  • $2.0 million for the Australian National Maritime Museum
  • $2.5 million for the National Film and Sound Archive
  • $4.5 million for the National Gallery of Australia
  • $5.4 million for the National Library of Australia
  • $3.9 million for the National Museum of Australia
  • $1.2 million for the National Portrait Gallery of Australia, and
  • $1.1 million for Screen Australia

This money will be provided in the federal budget. Fletcher is quoted as saying:

‘COVID-19 means these institutions have lost revenue they would normally get from visitors, exhibitions and donations; this funding will help make up for that loss so the national cultural institutions can maintain their activities.

So far, all we know is that ‘Screen Australia CEO, Graeme Mason said, “This has been an incredibly challenging year for the screen sector and we welcome the additional support from the Government. Our industry has shown great resilience and these funds will go straight out to the sector to help productions safely continue to make distinctive Australian stories for the screen.’ according to the agency.

And AFTRS has supplied a statement with this detail via CEO Nell Greenwood:

This is welcome news.  It recognises the impact of COVID-19 and the increased cost of delivering COVIDSafe teaching and production.’

In other words, it will help to deal with the bill for pivoting to online delivery, which the school did very efficiently and early in the emergency through a convulsion of work and re-imagination. 

Read more: The benefits of online learning in a post COVID-19 world.


While the government is quick to point out that it has provided significant money as part of the general provisions to sustain the economy, it has also provided $27m for the Relief and Recovery Fund, of which $10m is for regional support which:

‘responds to the difficulties experienced by regional artists, arts organisations and communities who have been heavily impacted by COVID-19, bushfires, floods and drought. The Recovery Boost is one-off funding and will be delivered through the Regional Arts Fund and seeks to offer short (Relief), medium (Recovery) and long-term (Renewal) support.’

The screen sector has received $50m for a Temporary Interruption Fund, which is not a fund at all but an insurance indemnity program, which is a last resort insurance offer to get the sector going again. Which is very useful. The feds have also announced a $400m fund over seven years to support incoming production which fixes an anomaly in the taxation support mechanisms and is independent of COVID. 

The lesson from all of this? Governments are tricky beasts, keen to create an impression of largesse without actually spending any money. 

Read more: Livestream against the plague, a compendium of industry resources.

About the Author
ScreenHub​ is the online home for emerging and experienced Australian screen professionals.