The Section 481 Tax Incentive proves highly beneficial to the Irish film industry
- Screen Ireland has published its first report on the socio-cultural impact of the scheme for the creative screen industry
On 20 January, Screen Ireland, the Emerald Isle’s main audiovisual agency, has published its first report on the socio-cultural impact of the Section 481 Tax Incentive for the Creative Screen Industry. The document was compiled by Olsberg SPI.
According to the official press release, “a wide range of sources were employed for the study, including surveys, focus groups and analysis of individual film and television case study projects – and the period of focus was 2017 – 2021.”
The study focuses on four main areas: cultural value, production, audiences and employment.
In detail, cultural value was analysed as “the different ways in which Irish film and television impacts individuals and society [...] as well as the power to further the promotion and recognition of Ireland and Irish identity around the world.” Many Irish residents valued the importance of Irish audiovisual content, with the majority of respondents stating they were “more likely to watch a film or television series if it was Irish.” In addition, such content “had a positive effect in areas like educating society, driving debate, and educating children,” with younger residents being “particularly positive regarding the impacts of film and television on promoting and preserving the Irish language.”
In terms of production, 82% of the expenditure by local firms can be attributed to Section 481, whilst 89% of inward international investment companies attributed expenditure to Section 481. The report also highlights that 68% of productions accessing the tax incentive between 2017 and 2021 relied on key creative Irish talent.
Speaking of audiences, 43 Section 481-backed productions had global theatrical release information, and these productions were screened in a median of four countries per production. Furthermore, the report points out that “theatrical release demonstrates a particular level of quality given the third-party investment necessary for each cinema release” as well as that “50% of all projects profiled had a prime window to transmission on free-to-air television in the Republic of Ireland and this increases over time as windows expire.”
In addition, the penetration of Section 481 productions globally is very high, with projects available to stream in the vast majority of territories. The report mentions the examples of successful productions such as Normal People (available in 102 countries), Angela’s Christmas (89), Vikings: Valhalla (59), the doc Songs for While I’m Away (59) and Herself [+see also:
interview: Clare Dunne
film profile] (33). The study argues that “worldwide audiences for these projects creates increased promotional opportunities for tourism according to Tourism Ireland.”
On the topic of employment, the report disclosed a high level of satisfaction in terms of working conditions and stability, with 69% of the survey respondents feeling they have a future in the Irish screen sector, 86% believing their roles enable them – to varying degrees – “to experience international best practice regarding skills and technology,” and 54% confirming they have worked in the sector for over 10 years. Regarding salaries, the estimated average annual salary for all screen workers is 27% higher than the average national income. Nonetheless, the report states there is room for improvement when it comes to “long working hours.”
Screen Ireland’s Chair Susan Bergin commented: “For the first time, this report examines the cultural dividend of Section 481 and the impact it has on our creative screen industry, and wider society. There is no doubt that Section 481 is a critical component of the creative screen industry, and it is encouraging to see that examined in detail for the first time. We were particularly pleased to see such a high percentage of projects accessing Section 481 relying on key creative Irish talent. The success of Irish talent internationally, garnering multiple awards or nominations in the last five years, in itself demonstrates the impact that the support yields for our creative talent and the productions they work on.”
In total, 11 Section 481-backed productions have achieved major international awards or nominations between 2017 and September 2022.
The full report is available here: https://www.screenireland.ie/images/uploads/general/The_Cultural_Dividend_Generated_by_Section_481_Report_January_2023.pdf
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