Australia / Press Releases
Setting the Stage for Recovery in the Arts Sector

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by Daisy Feller
Jun 17 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a severe toll on the Australian arts sector, with disruptions in funding, venue closures and event cancellations reducing revenue for film producers, music and theatre productions, and other cultural industries.

Revenue for the Music and Theatre Productions industry is expected to decline by 18.1% in 2019-20, and rebound by only 7.5% in 2020-21 as social distancing restrictions are eased.  Employment is expected to decline by 22.1% across the industry. Many of the industry’s 5,500 artists, performers and other employees are not regular full-time workers and are therefore not eligible for the JobKeeper wage subsidy scheme.

‘Arts workers are at particular risk of falling through the cracks of government assistance, as many of these individuals are employed casually or as independent contractors,’ said IBISWorld Senior Industry Analyst Daisy Feller.

Film projects in the spot light

COVID-19 has had a severe impact on Australia’s Motion Picture and Video Production industry by causing significant delays in major projects, causing industry revenue to fall by an estimated 16.9% in 2019-20 to $2.3 billion.

The Federal Government has flagged that it is considering providing additional assistance to stage and screen productions. Funding from governments has contributed approximately 43% of total financing for film productions and 24% of total financing for TV drama productions over the past five years.

‘Much of the government assistance for film projects comes from the Producer Offset, which provides a 40% rebate on the cost of domestic film productions, a 20% rebate on the cost of domestic television productions, and a 16.5% rebate for foreign film productions,’ said Ms Feller.

The Federal Government increased the Location Offset scheme in May 2018 to 30% for big-budget foreign film productions. These initiatives have attracted large foreign projects to Australia over the past five years including Marvel’s Thor: Ragnarok and DC’s Aquaman.

Trends in film and television production flow through to Australia’s over $400 million Video Post-Production Services industry, which relies on a pipeline of projects shot both domestically and overseas.

‘Although many industry activities can be undertaken remotely and therefore were not required to halt due to COVID-19, a weakened project pipeline due to production delays is anticipated to have a negative effect,’ said Ms Feller.

The Video Post-Production Services industry also relies heavily on government funding. In addition to the Federal Government’s Post, Digital and Visual effects (PDV) Offset, which grants major productions a 30% rebate on PDV expenditure in Australia, the South Australian Film Corporation and Screen Queensland have also invested in boosting PDV activity in their respective states.

‘Government rebates have been vital to boosting the global competitiveness of Australian post-production,’ said Ms Feller.

The depreciation of the Australian dollar over the past five years, combined with Australia’s relative success in flattening the COVID-19 curve, means the local film sector is primed to continue growing. However, without adequate government support to attract large foreign productions, over 6,000 local firms operating in the film production and post-production industries will likely continue to face a difficult operating environment.

IBISWorld reports used to develop this release:

For more information, to obtain industry reports, or arrange an interview with an analyst, please contact:
Jason Aravanis
Strategic Media Advisor – IBISWorld Pty Ltd
Tel: 03 9906 3647