This comes on the back of funding reductions amounting to 18% over the last two years while at the same time absorbing the activities of the dissolved UK Film Council and releasing 50% back to the DCMS. We are also asked to fund and support within our reduced settlement new areas such as ‘the wider screen industries’ and to identify a possible further 5% contingency.
As a national cultural body which is also the catalyst for the growth of the film industry, we are shocked that film has not been protected alongside the UK’s other national arts bodies and museums. This is even more surprising given the Government and industry’s endorsement of the BFI’s five year strategic plan for film, launched less than a year ago (October 2012).
The Secretary of State’s statement on the DCMS website recognises the ‘huge contribution’ made by the organisations she is protecting with a 5% cut. But her decision not to include the BFI fails to acknowledge film’s multi-billion pound contribution to the economy, and instead puts film in the position of effectively subsidising other arts organisations.
We recognise and applaud the tax credits. However, to maximise their potential, the UK should not be reducing its investment in world-leading creativity - through support for filmmakers, cultural programmes, skills, education, talent development and audiences - if we want to retain our competitive edge internationally.
This is extremely disappointing and worrying for the film sector and audiences at a point where it is clear to those in and out of Government that film is playing an active and significant role in the UK’s economic recovery and is a vital contributor to our cultural life and international profile.
The idea of expanding the BFI’s activities is exciting but, at a point when we are facing a 10% cut, we cannot consider taking on these new activities at the expense of film.
We are in urgent discussions with the Minister with a set of proposals to mitigate some of the impact of these cuts. If these proposals aren’t achievable then the BFI will have no choice but to stop valuable front line activities and reduce support for partner organisations.
The BFI’s Board of Governors is considering these options and will make its decision public in due course.