Equity disturbed by recommended cuts to Screen Australia
Equity is disturbed by the Commission of Audit’s recommendation that Screen Australia be merged with the Australia Council and have its funding halved. The report recommends that Screen Australia’s reduced funding be focussed on areas of Australian content, including “those with an historical perspective that might not otherwise be funded”.
Equity director Sue McCreadie said: “The proposals are not strategic and would be devastating for the screen production sector. However, we recognise the government will adopt some proposals, reject others, and put some aside for further assessment.
“In Senator Brandis we have a Minister who understands and values the film and arts sectors. As the arts minister in the Howard government who oversaw the review that established Screen Australia we are confident that he will resist any rash changes to assistance levels or structures.
“We will of course use the time between now and the budget to make a reasoned case against cuts or detrimental agency mergers”.
The Audit Commission made the following recommendations:
• Halving of Screen Australia funding – seemingly on the grounds that it provides a mix of public and private benefits;
• Bringing together the Australia Council, Australian Business Arts Foundation Ltd, Screen Australia and the Bundanon Trust into a single arts council to “reduce administrative costs and support closer collaboration within the arts community as well as providing improved capacity for grant and procurement processes to be centrally and professionally managed”;
• Cessation of the $20m international film incentives program;
• Shifting the Australian Film, Television and Radio School to a university.