The New South Wales Government has officially backtracked on plans to cut ongoing screen and games funding programs, amidst major outcry from workers, industry bodies, and unions, including the MEAA. While the government had announced around AU $60 million in cuts in its recent state budget, allegedly as a result of decisions implemented by the previous state government prior to the March 2023 election, these will no longer take place.
Per reporting from The Sydney Morning Herald, Variety, and industry body IGEA, the reversal was announced by NSW Arts Minister John Graham on Tuesday. As detailed, the Made in NSW fund, the Post, Digital and Visual Effects Rebate, and the NSW Digital Games Rebate will continue as normal, on existing terms.
Each of these incentives provides allowances for screen-based and video game projects to benefit from reduced taxes and/or government funding support, which in turn, has proven to be effective in boosting the state jobs market and its creative output. While these funds are largely tailored for the film and television industry, the dedicated Digital Games Rebate functions as a means to aid local game developers in the production process.
Since cuts were announced, workers in the screen and games industry have rallied for change, highlighting the initially planned budget cuts as short-sighted. Australia’s entertainment industries are currently moving through a major growth period, with demand for digital games and local film production growing steadily. Per reporting from the SMH, the NSW film and television industry has grown by 60% in the last five years.
Minister Graham has acknowledged this growth in a statement sent around to local industry bodies.
“We are not revising the financial year 23/24 budget process,” Graham reportedly said. “What we are doing is replenishing funds to the level we had expected to account for the increased demand, while we work through the business case for future screen funding. What we are giving is commitment and certainty for the sector to continue planning and production in NSW.”
“Today’s commitment to refresh these programs will ensure that they can continue to provide certainty for the sector, for their existing terms, while we work through a business case to address future support for the film industry.”
Graham has outlined that the government will look to revamp screen support in the coming years, in the hopes of providing more stability and opportunity in new state budgets.
In response to restoration for games funding, IGEA has thanked the Minns Labor Government for its consideration, and for its fast-acting reversal on plans to reduce funding for the screen and games industries.
“Through Minister Graham, the industry greatly appreciates the NSW Government’s willingness to listen to the impact that the sudden withdrawal of funding had on the local games development sector and the screen industry more broadly,” Ron Curry, CEO of IGEA said. “We commend the Minister for his openness and decisiveness, providing certainty and commitment to the NSW digital games industry.”
“Ongoing games funding in NSW will result in consistent full-time game development employees working permanently in the state. These support mechanisms enhance conditions and act as an accelerator for NSW based game development studios, and studios looking to establish a base in NSW, investing in the sector.”