Annual Report

Chair's Letter

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Janet Holmes à Court, AC
Chair

Dear Ministers,

It is my pleasure to present the 2019-2020 Annual Report for the Australian Children’s Television Foundation (ACTF).

During the financial year we committed $2,230,000 to production investment via distribution advances and equity. Two of those productions, Hardball 2 and MaveriX were unable to go into production as scheduled, due to the Covid-19 pandemic; but work on the third series of Little J and Big Cuz continued, with animators working from home. With two major productions delayed (they’ll go into production during 2020-2021), we ramped up our focus on script development, with funding of $347,679.72 provided to 20 projects from five states and territories.

Last year’s ACTF supported productions – Hardball 1, First Day, Thalu and Little J and Big Cuz 2 - went to air on the ABC and NITV, to critical and audience acclaim. International sales, in particular of Hardball and First Day, have been especially strong, and the feedback from schools to each of these programs, and their accompanying educational resources, has been terrific.

In last year’s Annual Report I wrote that we need to find a new way to support the provision of local children’s content, and position Australian producers to take advantage of the new opportunities that are emerging; that a sophisticated response to supporting Australian children’s screen content in the 21st century should take full advantage of the ACTF’s expertise and capacity to support production and ensure that content reaches audiences. In a case of “be careful what you wish for”, I am writing this letter having just learned that the Commonwealth Government will provide the ACTF with $20 million over two years, from 1 July 2021 to enable it to support even more Australian children’s screen content. This is a tremendous opportunity for the ACTF to be a catalyst for even higher levels of production, and to work with producers all over Australia. We will be encouraging the public broadcasters and the video-on-demand services now watched by many Australian children and their families, to take advantage of this opportunity to ramp up their own commissioning of Australian content for children.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the Ministers who have supported the ACTF and its activities this year, and their relevant Departments and Film Victoria for their cooperation and assistance. I would especially like to acknowledge the support that we receive from our colleagues in the Office for the Arts, within the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications.

I would also like to thank my fellow Board members for their contribution to the work of the ACTF, and I would particularly like to acknowledge the contribution made by Deputy Chair Andrea Denholm. We farewelled Garry Hewitt, who represented Western Australia on the Board, with distinction, for 8 years. We welcome Rosemary Cahill, who has replaced Garry as the West Australian Government representative on the Board.

Finally, on behalf of the Board, I would like to thank Jenny Buckland and the terrific team at the ACTF for all that they have achieved in a year filled with unexpected challenges for everyone. All of us on the Board have been inspired by the way that this small team has continued to engage with the production sector all around the country, and indeed broadcasters and distribution platforms all over the world, as well as with children and schools - all from their homes in Melbourne. We are looking forward to the time when we can once again be together at the ACTF.

Yours sincerely,

Signature
Janet Holmes à Court
Chair