Federal Member for Wide Bay and Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives Llew O'Brien has welcomed the Morrison Government $20 million commitment to assist independent cinema operators.
The Supporting Cinemas' Retention Endurance and Enhancement of Neighbourhoods (SCREEN) Fund, administered by Screen Australia, will assist independent cinema operators who have experienced significant declines in revenue due to the pandemic, with one-off business continuity grants of up to $85,000.
Mr O'Brien said the funding will provide critical support for local Wide Bay cinemas, which play an important role in the community.
"Wide Bay's independent cinemas like the Gympie Cinema, and @Cinemas in Maryborough have long-standing involvement in the social fabric of our communities, and I am pleased to see this funding to assist them through what has been a very challenging time," Mr O'Brien said.
"I would strongly encourage local independent cinema operators to submit an expression of interest for this funding, to help ensure people can continue to enjoy the silver screen experience locally."
Minister for Communications, Urban Infrastructure, Cites and the Arts, the Hon Paul Fletcher MP, said the SCREEN Fund is expected to support up to 390 cinemas across the country to manage the significant economic, health and social challenges they are facing as a result of COVID-19.
"The pandemic has had a devastating impact on cinemas, who have struggled to recover due to circumstances that were out of their control, such as capacity restrictions and a reduced flow of new release films by major distributors," Minister Fletcher said.
"Independent cinemas represent around 30 per cent of the cinema exhibition sector in Australia, and play a key role by providing a popular, low-cost and COVID-safe way for people to go out and enjoy a movie as part of a community - particularly in regional areas.
"We're introducing this funding to help support the viability of independent cinemas during this period when their business circumstances are still returning to normality, as the vaccine rollout progresses and Australia moves towards higher audience capacities."
The SCREEN Fund builds on the Government's investment of over $800 million in additional arts and entertainment funding announced in 2020, on top of its annual investment of around $750 million in regular funding.