Government needs to deliver on its promise to support Independent Cinemas

Government needs to deliver on its promise to support Independent Cinemas Main Image

By Kristy McBain

21 December 2021

Member for Eden-Monaro Kristy McBain is calling on the Federal Government to deliver on its promise to support Independent Cinemas through the pandemic.

Earlier this year the Morrison Government announced $20m in support for independent cinemas, which was meant to see them through COVID. But the Government has only release half of the promised SCREEN fund and it’s looking like they have no plans to deliver the rest of what was promised.

Merimbula’s cinema The Picture Show Man is one of hundreds of Australian independent cinemas that have joined the Twelve Days of Christmas campaign to pressure the federal government to release almost $10 million of COVID-19 support payments that was pledged.

“In Eden-Monaro we have some really fantastic local and independent cinemas including the Narooma Kinema, Jindabyne Cinema and the Cooma Twin Cinema all of which have lost a huge amount of income because of the pandemic,” Ms McBain said.

“Since the Government’s announcement in March this year, cinemas have been hit with prolonged lockdowns and ongoing restrictions – meaning the need for this support has only increased.

“The government allocated $20 million pre-Delta because they recognised the value that cinema brings to society, particularly regional communities where cinemas are mostly independent.

“The $20 million SCREEN fund would have made a huge difference to regional cinemas that support our communities in so many ways. But the fact is, the government has only delivered half of what was promised, even though the need is still there.

“For almost two years now, Australian independent cinemas have been operating with more than a 50 per cent decline in revenue. While it is great that the recovery has begun, it will take time, and their reserves are exhausted – they need what was promised.”

The fund was set up to give grants of up to $85,000 to independent cinemas – those outside the major chains – that could demonstrate at least a 30 per cent downturn in revenue because of the pandemic.

Ms McBain met with the owner of The Picture Show Man in Merimbula Jesse Tankard who said a second round of grants would go a long way to helping his cinema, and many other cinemas around the country.

“The last two years have been a bumpy ride,” Jesse said.

“We have lost almost two years worth of income due to the bushfires, lockdowns and border closures and all we are asking for is for the government to actually deliver what was promised.

“The extra money for independent cinemas could really help with some of the massive expenses like rent which was incurred when we couldn’t make any income.”

Ms McBain said the independent cinemas like The Picture Show Man play an important role in our local communities and all they’re asking for is the modest financial support the Morrison Government promised them.

“Without this support, it could be the last straw for these local businesses.”