Screen Australia looks for savings

26 June, 2014 by Don Groves

Screen Australia is striving to ensure there are no cuts in funding for features, TV drama and children’s programming in the financial year starting July 1 while it’s forced to reduce the year’s operating budget by $5.2 million.

The agency has flagged that investment in documentaries will be trimmed from $19.5 million in 2013-2014 to between $18 million and $19 million.


Other savings are expected to come from a range of non-screen funding programs, potentially including support for screen resource centres, professional development including script workshops, and marketing.

Executives are still formulating plans in response to the federal government slashing its budget by $38 million over the next four years.

The cuts include a $25 million reduction in its overall appropriation; ending the Australian games funding program ($10 million); and curtailing the interactive multiplatform funding initiative in 2017-18 ($2.5 million in that year).

As CEO Graeme Mason told a recent Senate Estimates committee, the agency has limited scope for further internal savings after overheads and staffing have been reduced by 40% in the past five years.

Operating expenses have dwindled from $32 million in 2007 to $20 million while the headcount fell from 190 to 112.

While a further 12 positions are expected to go in the next 12 months, at least half will result from staff retiring or moving on to other jobs.

Scroz does face the prospect of having to reduce direct funding of films and TV programming in future years as it will be obliged to cut its budget by $7.2 million in 2016-2017 and by $9.7 million the following year (which includes the end of the multi-platform initiative).

The aim is to inform staff how the 2014-2015 budget cuts will be implemented in mid-July, and the wider industry thereafter.