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The ABC will support more than 200 Australian productions and new content ideas through its $5 million Fresh Start Fund, to help safeguard local content and creativity against the impact of COVID-19. 

Almost 60 Australian music projects are among those receiving development funding and support, plus 44 children’s content ideas and productions, 30 comedies, 15 dramas, 14 documentaries and factual projects and more than 30 specialist projects spanning areas such as podcasts, arts, science and religion and ethics.

Michael Carrington, ABC Director Entertainment & Specialist, said the ABC was committed to helping Australian creatives cope with the global pandemic. “The impact of COVID-19 on the Australian production industry is ongoing and profound, leaving many content makers struggling to stay afloat,” he said.

“As Australia’s biggest backer of homegrown content, the ABC will provide whatever help possible to support local talent in this incredibly challenging time. With so many people still impacted by social distancing and isolation, distinctive Australian stories that keep them informed and entertained are more important than ever. The ABC’s $5 million Fresh Start Fund will help supercharge more than 200 of those stories, providing lifeblood to local creatives at a time when they need it most.” 

Projects in line for development support include new natural history series, true crime stories, bold new Australian documentaries and several digital short-form factual series from culturally and linguistically diverse creatives, many of whom are working with the ABC for the first time. The fund will also give ongoing development support to new entertainment series, ranging from quiz shows to comedies. 

New drama, comedy and Indigenous projects receiving development support showcase the range of Australian talent across the country, from rural Victoria to the nation’s far north. Fresh Start Fund projects include adult animation series, digital short-form sketch comedies, family dramas, crime series, vertical comedy series, rom-coms and science fiction-fantasy. The topics covered by these projects roam far and wide, including Indigenous musicians, autism, race, disability, eco-terrorism, ghost hunters, chess clubs, coronavirus, the Australian wine industry, prison, pole dancing and the challenges faced by girls growing up in a dangerous world.  

For listeners, the Fresh Start Fund includes support for new science and history podcasts, radio dramas and new series examining major moments and big ideas that changed Australia and the world. 

ABC Classic and ABC Jazz will bring 25 new Australian works to audiences over the next year, building on the ABC’s tradition of discovering and developing new music by diverse artists. The debut works receiving support include musical responses to COVID-19, new jazz projects, a suite of dances by female composers reflecting on the 2019-20 bushfire season and emerging Indigenous composers exploring the 250 years since Captain Cook’s landing. 

The Fresh Start Fund will also give triple J Unearthed “level up” grants to 16 emerging Australian artists to support their music careers, including funds to record new music, produce music videos and create sustainable merchandise.

The Fresh Start Fund received about 4000 applications from Australian producers, creatives and musicians in need of urgent support due to the shutdown of the independent production industry. Applications for funding closed on 12 June. 

Spanning five streams, the Fresh Start Fund recognises the essential role played by independent producers in helping the ABC deliver Australian stories for audiences, across all platforms and services. The fund also supports emerging Australian talent and creatives to ensure the viable future of the local production industry.

The ABC continues to work closely with production companies on current projects that have been delayed or suspended due to COVID-19, to find supportive solutions where possible. The ABC is being flexible around delivery and has varied cash flows as appropriate on a title-by-title basis to help protect jobs in the independent sector.

The ABC has also acquired additional Australian content for broadcast on ABC TV and iview to keep the nation informed, educated and entertained, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic.