Chris Minns’ NSW Labor government has reversed cuts to screen and games funding announced as part of the 2023-2024 in response to mounting pressure from impacted industries. The announcement was made by NSW Arts Minister John Graham on Tuesday, who confirmed the Post, Digital, and Visual Effects Rebate, Made In NSW Fund, and NSW Digital Games Rebate program will all continue on existing terms.
The previously-announced cuts would have seen a massive $60 million drop in funding to a number of screen and games programs, allegedly due to the previous Coalition government. At the time the cuts were originally outlined, Graham said the withdrawal of funding was a part of the NSW Government’s “tough calls” made to “reprioritise spending to protect what we can while we focus on funding critical measures.”
Each of the now re-funded programs provides support through tax rebates or government funding to screen and games projects – and consequently, increase jobs within the screen and games sector – with the Post, Digital and Visual Effects Rebate particularly praised as a big stepping stone towards furthering the state’s game development industry. The Digital Games Rebate is one of the more tailored initiatives that will continue to receive funding, with a 10 percent rebate on offer for digital games with a “Qualifying NSW Expenditure” of $500,000 or more.
In a statement sent to local industry bodies, NSW Arts Minister John Graham reportedly said the NSW Government was “not revising the financial year 23/24 budget process,” but was “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 added.
The NSW Government’s reversal is being welcomed by industry bodies who had begun lobbying for a backtrack on the cuts due to the major impact on the local games industry. CEO of IGEA Ron Curry said, “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. 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.”
This change comes as a major win for the NSW games development industry, which was already lagging behind in funding initiatives in comparison to Victoria and Queensland – it looks like for now, small developers in the state can breathe a little easier as funding and rebate options for their projects remain open.
Image: iStock, Julieanna Birch
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