Sydney fest gets $2 mil boost from NSW gov

New funding will see fest expand venues, formats

SYDNEY -- The New South Wales government Monday announced additional funding of AUS$2.25 million ($2.03 million) to the Sydney Film Festival with a restructure of the festival currently being undertaken that follows the recommendations of a review conducted by management consultants Booz and Co. last year.

Those recommendations included a two to three-year development strategy for the Festival that focuses on operational and governance reform, exploration of new markets and further consideration of the Sydney Film Festival¹s future position in the local, national and international events calendar and film festival environment.

The new funding is in addition to the $540,000 the festival currently receives, part of which underpins the Sydney Film Prize, the festival’s international competition, bringing government funding of the festival to a total of $2.6 million over the next three years.

A new constitution will be implemented in February 28, and a new chair, lawyer Chris Freeland, has been appointed and current president Virginia Gordon is retiring.

The Festival is currently in the process of recruiting a new CEO and new board members. Clare Stewart remains as artistic director.

Outgoing president Gordon said the funding “really gives the Festival a strong foundation for the future. I retire from the board knowing today’s announcement secures the future the board and the staff with the NSW Government have all worked hard to realize."

With the new funding the festival will expand its reach both geographically and with new formats.  

“A revitalized Festival can aim to increase and diversify audiences across the State, with year-round programming and events and a renewed focus on Western Sydney, building on the success of the Traveling Film Festival to regional NSW,” Arts minister Virginia Judge said.

As a result the 2010 Festival will visit regional centers of Wagga Wagga, Dubbo, Byron Bay, Wollongong, Newcastle, Huskisson and Bowraville.

The funding boost also plays a pivotal role in positioning NSW as Australia's Screen State and key employer in the creative industries, NSW minister for State and Regional Development Ian Macdonald added.

It follows the announcement this month that the AFI Awards will move to Sydney in 2011 and a raft of incentives provided to key feature film and TV projects, enabling them to shoot in NSW.

This year's edition of the Sydney Film Festival runs June 2-14.

The announcement comes just one week after the Brisbane International Film Festival announced it's shifting its dates from July to November, in a bid to build a closer relationship with the pan-regional Asia Pacific Screen Awards.

It has also emerged that Melbourne International Film Festival director Richard Moore has been appointed Head of Screen Culture at Screen Queensland, overseeing the Brisbane festival.

He takes up the position following this year's Melbourne festival in August.
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