New fund launches to support screen sector workers affected by the pandemic

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New screen sector support fund launched.
New screen sector support fund launched.
Photo: John Benitez on Unsplash
  • Sony Pictures, the National Arts Council and the National Film and Video Foundation have contributed towards a new fund to aid screen sector workers.
  • The South African Screen Sector Support Fund (SASSSF) is the initial project of the newly established South African Screen Sector Support Initiative (SASSSI).
  • Applicants can apply for the grant at the SASSSI website.

The South African Screen Sector Support Fund (SASSSF) has been launched to aid screen sector workers whose livelihoods have been affected by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Sony Pictures Entertainment, the National Arts Council and the National Film and Video Foundation have contributed to the support fund.

According to a press statement, the fund will "specifically address the needs of individuals, SMMEs and organisations affected by the lockdown – which  has had a significant impact on audio-visual content production in South Africa and on the many companies whose goods and services support that production activity".

The fund is the first project of the newly established South African Screen Sector Support Initiative (SASSSI), which has been set up jointly by The South African Screen Federation (SASFED) and the Independent Producers Organisation (IPO), with programme and technical support from Gray Global Advisors LLC (GGA).

The screen sector includes all activity related to the production and distribution of film, television, visual and special effects, animation, advertising, and short-form and online video content. It covers everyone involved in creating, performing in, producing and distributing work intended to be viewed on-screen.

Eligibility criteria will be published as different tranches of funding become available.  

"SASSSI's immediate objective is to harness collective action in order to support the screen sector community adversely affected by the lockdown. The intention is also to secure the screen sector so that it can be revived, revitalised and developed once the Covid-19 crisis has passed."
--SASFED Executive Officer and Lobbyist, Unathi Malunga

Sony Pictures Entertainment is contributing USD250k to the Screen Sector Support Fund (around R3.8 million) through the Sony Global Relief Fund, the National Arts Council is contributing R570k, and the National Film and Video Foundation is contributing R100k – all to help provide much-needed relief to South Africa's screen sector.

This new fund will sit alongside the Covid-19 Film and Television Relief Fund that was established in collaboration with Netflix last year and funded with an initial USD500k donation from Netflix. The initial Netflix funds have been administered and disbursed already to over 550 below-the-line workers in the creative industry.

"We are so grateful for this extraordinary level of support for the local screen sector," says the IPO's Trish Downing. "It's a testament to international producers' confidence in our local sector and will go a long way towards preserving its value at this critical time."

Tshikululu Social Investments will administer all applications to and disbursements from the new SASSSI Screen Sector Support Fund.

"In order to assist those hardest hit by the pandemic within the film and entertainment industry, Tshikululu Social Investments has been appointed to manage the fund," says Sibonakaliso Mavuka, Manager: Special Projects at Tshikululu. "The final decision regarding fund allocation will be conducted by independent selection committees nominated by representatives of the local screen sector and Gray Global Advisors – and confirmed with the key donors."

A portion of the funds will be used to assist qualifying Industry Organisations that represent those who work in the screen sector.

Through this important initiative, we wish to help support the skills pool and supporting ecosystem that makes up the South African screen sector - which, apart from Hollywood, is the oldest in the world. The sector, which provides a wide range of services to both local and international companies – and brings important foreign investment into the country – is a significant contributor to the economy and job creation. It’s vital that we preserve it and support its further development to position it as a key component of South Africa’s post-COVID recovery.
Justin Gray of GGA

For more information about eligibility criteria and application forms visit SASSSI's website.

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