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Regional silver screens score an encore

Wallis Cinemas in South Australia and Victoria were beneficiaries of SCREEN grants

Dr Anne Webster, the Member for Mallee, has thrown her support behind a recent funding announcement aimed at supporting the recovery of regionally-based Australian cinemas.

The allocation of funds, from the $20 million Supporting Cinemas’ Retention Endurance and Enhancement of Neighbourhoods, cutely shorthanded the SCREEN Fund, is poised to reignite regional Australians’ appetite for excursions to the cinema.

Some regional cinemas announced as beneficiaries of the funding include the United Cinemas in Narellan, in NSW, Swan Hill’s Showbiz Cinemas and Mildura’s Wallis Deakin Cinema in Victoria and Coober Pedy’s Drive-In Theatre in South Australia.

Speaking on Flow Wednesday, Webster outlined how the funds were made available by the federal government and said the developments are a great outcome for regional cinema operators.

“This is where the government has been able to switcheroo some funds from the SCREEN Fund...to now the Covid-19 arts sustainability fund...so it’s a good story.”

Hear the full interview with Mallee MP Anne Webster on the FlowNews24 podcast:

With the Covid-19 pandemic’s keeping film fans at home and Hollywood haemorrhaging millions of dollars, Webster said she hoped to see cinemas thriving again soon:

“It’s the nature of the world we live in...things are changing all the time and ultimately the market will determine that, if people don’t go to the cinema, if they don’t go to a drive-in theatre, then of course those businesses will be making business decisions to shut them down.”
“It isn’t generally a practice of the government to keep propping up and funding failing businesses.”
“My hope is that everyone will go out and enjoy the cinemas again; feel confident about sitting in a cinema and enjoy the experience.”

In March, South Australian independent Senator Rex Patrick called for ‘an immediate commitment from the federal government to financially assist independent cinemas after the discontinuation of the government’s JobKeeper program, declaring at the time:

“41 of South Australia’s 51 cinemas are independent cinemas, many of them small and family businesses and they need ongoing support if they are to make it through the COVID19 economic crisis.”