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Just how much is the Australian screen industry worth?

We all know that Australia’s “national identity” has been shaped and defined by our great movies and TV shows: from Priscilla, to Redfern Now, to Kath and Kim, to Gallipoli. They have incalculable cultural value, but what about their economic value?

Our national funding body Screen Australia this week has released a report called Screen Currency, which shows Australian screen stories contribute $3 billion to the economy annually, generating more than 25,000 jobs.

The report was launched by Arts Minister, Senator Mitch Fifield, who said: “The screen industry’s contribution to GDP, jobs and other sectors such as tourism is impressive enough, but the report further informs what we already instinctively know about Australian screen stories: they have a value that is more than entertainment.”

Of course, Fifield and his predecessor in the arts ministry, Senator George Brandis made drastic cuts to Screen Australia’s funding, directing money into attracting big budget Hollywood movies to shoot in Australia.

Australian feature films, TV dramas and documentaries earn at least $252 million annually through exports, while around 230,000 tourists are inspired to visit Australia or extend their stay due to Australian screen content, contributing an estimated $725 million to the economy.

Screen Australia CEO Graeme Mason said: “Until now the screen sector has relied heavily on gut feeling to determine our worth. Screen Currency solidifies our economic value and demonstrates that as an industry we’re punching above our weight … In essence this is a conservative creativity measure and the $3 billion would be considerably bolstered if you took into consideration activity and revenue generated by the advertising industries that is not captured in this report.”

“It’s no accident Chris Hemsworth is the face of Tourism Australia’s latest international campaign. Our talent behind and in front of the cameras is one of Australia’s greatest assets, with ambassadors like Cate Blanchett, Nicole Kidman, Baz Luhrmann and George Miller representing Australia’s screen industry front and centre on the world stage.”

The report also includes a survey of more than 1000 Australians. Ninety-eight percent of respondents watch Australian content, and 64% say Australian content accounts for up to half their viewing. Seventy-six percent believe the Australian screen sector should be supported by government.

Featured image: Judy Davis and Liam Hemsworth in The Dressmaker. Source: Screen Australia

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