Applications have opened for the government's $20 million Supporting Cinemas’ Retention Endurance and Enhancement of Neighbourhoods (SCREEN) Fund.

The Federal Government has released the guidelines for the Supporting Cinemas’ Retention Endurance and Enhancement of Neighbourhoods (SCREEN) Fund as it opens for applications via Screen Australia.

Announced last month, the $20 million fund will provide support to independent cinema operators who have experienced significant declines in revenue due to COVID-19 in the form of one-off grants.

The amount of each grant is dependent on reported box office revenue for a location during the pre-COVID period of 1 March 2019 to 29 February 2020, with $35,000 available for locations reporting below $1 million; $60,000 for locations reporting between $1 million and $3 million; and $85,000 for locations reporting over $3 million.

Claimed annual box office will only be accepted with supporting evidence from an industry-accepted third-party box office reporting service (Numero or Comscore).

The guidelines also state that if a cinema business was interrupted during the period by a natural disaster, such as bushfires, the claimed box office revenue can be calculated as a three-year average for the relevant periods.

Cinema operators with multiple locations are able to apply for more than one grant, provided that each location meets the guidelines. A new application will be required for each location, with only one entity entitled to receive a grant for each location. Eligible locations include single-screen venues, multiple-screen venues, drive-ins, and other outdoor venues.

The guidelines have been welcomed by Independent Cinemas Australia, with CEO Adrianne Pecotic commending Screen Australia on the “speedy” publication of criteria.

“Independent cinemas are desperate for these relief funds after more than a year of privation and I am confident the government, through Screen Australia, will deliver on that need,” she said.

Screen Australia CEO Graeme Mason said the fund would provide assistance where it was needed most.

“The COVID-19 pandemic caused major disruption to the screen industry and independent cinema operators were particularly hard hit,” he said.

“This funding will support the viability and recovery of independent cinema businesses as they move forward to more content and higher audience capacities.”

Applications for the SCREEN Fund are open until 24 December 2021 or until total funds are committed.

For eligibility requirements and how to apply see the guidelines here 

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