It is my pleasure to present the 2017-2018 Annual Report for the Australian Children’s Television Foundation (ACTF).
This year we invested a record amount, $421,745, in script development. Eighteen different projects came from five states and territories, and were aimed at pre-school, primary school and teen audiences. Live action drama, animation and factual shows including thrillers, comedy and fantasy, as well as period and contemporary settings were funded. The quality of the concepts that came to the Board this year was as high as it has ever been, and long standing Board members and staff have all reflected that the bar has really been lifted in recent years.
We were able to invest more than double the amount that we had budgeted to spend on script development, because we spent less than anticipated on production investment through distribution advances. That is a reflection on the competitive environment for funding children’s content — with the ABC and NITV currently the only local broadcasters commissioning high end series — and the challenges in raising the balance of production budgets from the international market.
By the end of the financial year, however, three series were heading into production with ACTF support, which will make 2018/19 a bumper year for production spending. Those projects include two new series — The InBESTigators and Hardball — and one returning series — Little J and Big Cuz.
At the time of writing, we await the outcomes of the Commonwealth Government’s Review of Australian and Children’s Screen Content. In the time since that Review was announced it has become clearer than ever that the ACTF is the only body consistently calling out the issues around the lack of proportionality in support for children’s content, and drawing attention to what is required to ensure that quality children’s content continues to be provided for Australian children. We are in a unique position at the intersection of children’s media, education and culture, with unparalleled expertise in children’s content development, production and funding. We hope that an enhanced role for the ACTF will be one of the outcomes arising from the Review.
The ACTF has occupied the same premises in Smith Street, Fitzroy for 23 years. During the financial year we completed the first major refurbishment of our space since moving in. In doing so, we reduced our footprint in the building (and ongoing rental expenses) by one-third and completely re-imagined our remaining space, to create an open and collaborative office that we can share with our industry and partners.
Currently three small businesses have space to work within the ACTF office, and many others from around Australia have been taking advantage of our workshop rooms and meeting spaces. The ACTF is a fun place to visit and I would warmly encourage any of our funding Ministers to call into the ACTF office and experience it for themselves when they visit Melbourne.
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 Commonwealth Department of Communications and the Arts.
I would also like to thank my fellow Board members for their contribution to the work of the ACTF, particularly Susan Bowden, who retired during the year.
Finally, on behalf of the Board, I would like to thank Jenny Buckland and the entire team at the ACTF for another great year. I know that all of us on the Board cherish our involvement with this remarkable organisation.
Janet Holmes à Court