You are here

Arts – Wide Angle Tasmania

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Monday, 5 June 2023

Tags: Arts, State Budget

Ms O'CONNOR - Now I am asking about Wide Angle Tasmania. As you know, minister, Wide Angle has been operating in Tasmania since 2005. It was, until it closed its doors, a bedrock arts organisation that nurtured screen culture, which leaves a real hole in the fabric of film innovation in Tasmania and Tasmania's documentary storytelling. We hear that there's big funding support for the big screen events like Bay of Fires but Wide Angle fostered Tasmanian talent through workshops and events and film-making equipment and mentoring so there's no organisation left to nurture young Tasmanian talent. Did you do anything at all to stop the closure of Wide Angle?

Ms ARCHER - I met with them -

Ms O'CONNOR - I saw that in your diary.

Ms ARCHER - and it's fair to say that their ask was huge - significant for the organisation, something that I was unable to come up with the funding for. What I can say also is that in the past there were organisations like Wide Angle in every state and the only remaining such organisations - Mercury CX in South Australia and even that has changed its business model. I know that Screen Tasmania - I will get Alex Sangston up to the table - has been working with Wide Angle now for several years in relation to that particular issue, as to why Wide Angle doesn't fit in the broader sense in our funding streams, it's fair to say, and we've continued to work with them over the years. Obviously, what was a lifeline for them was the money that was provided to them - quite a significant amount - which probably delayed what's occurred now.

Nobody likes what's happened. It's terribly regrettable and a really difficult scenario. I would like Mr Sangston to explain how Screen Tasmania's been involved for several years now.

Ms O'CONNOR - Just briefly, if you don't mind, because there are seven minutes left for questions and I'm sure others want to ask them.

Back to the minister here, how do we make sure that we've got the capacity and the vehicle to nurture local talent?

Mr SANGSTON - Thank you, everybody and good afternoon. Alex Sangston, Executive Manager, Screen Tasmania.

Ms O'CONNOR - Hello.

Mr SANGSTON - Hello. It is very sad that Wide Angle has closed. There are a couple of things to note. Wide Angle as an organisation grew out of a world where film was expensive to make. You needed to develop it. It was literally made on film so the organisations like it kind of grew out of a need to provide access to gear and facilities as much as everything else.

The world has moved on substantially, obviously, since then and we're all carrying video cameras in our pockets now. That's not to take away from everything Wide Angle did. They were incredibly valuable as an organisation, but as the minister mentioned before, there's only one such organisation left, Mercury CX in South Australia, which is as much a cinema as it is a community support mechanism. The value or the need, the call, for an organisation like Wide Angle is substantially less, which is not to say it won't be missed.

At Screen Tasmania we are very focused on making sure that there are opportunities available for emerging filmmakers right around the state. We are trying to do it in a much more targeted way than we have in the past, doing production initiatives, providing attachment support into more interesting areas, doing much more in terms of supporting online production and online content. We have been working quite closely with our partner organisations on the mainland and Screen Australia to put together coordinated programs of training and industry development.

Ms O'CONNOR - Just briefly back to the minister. The question is apart from that big end of town stuff potentially, through Screen Tasmania and Screen Australia, what is the plan for nurturing local filmmaking, documentary making, acting talent?

Ms ARCHER - Perhaps it is something that needs to be part of the national conversation on the national cultural policy so we have a consistent -

Ms O'CONNOR - Really?

Ms ARCHER - Yes, well, consistency across the board for starters.

Ms O'CONNOR - Why, does that matter?

Ms ARCHER - Well, when there's competitiveness in the industry -

Ms O'CONNOR - You don't want to be uniquely Tasmanian?

Ms ARCHER - We 'll always be uniquely Tasmanian but, as Mr Sangston has explained, how do we address the Wide Angle situation? I have been trying to get to the bottom of this for many years now and it is difficult to work with an organisation that does need to change its business model if they are not willing to change the business model. I think that is an issue that needs to be sorted.