UK Film Council and British Film Institute will become one
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UK Film Council and British Film Institute will become one

BFI: merging in 2010

[this post has been revised]

We hear that the merging of UK Film Council and BFI  – ‘mooted’ by the UK’s Department for Culture, Media and Sport in August – is going to happen, with the two organisations being told they’ll become one by April 2010. Officially, it’s not a done deal, and it’s certainly a tight schedule; it probably doesn’t make the job any easier when apparently neither of the respective Chairs managed to make it to the first ‘project board’.

There are certainly some with some big issues to resolve – and legal and logistical hurdles, not least BFI’s charity status, which means it can’t distribute Lottery funds. Then there’s the question of what happens to the Regional Screen Agencies – ostensibly independent bodies, but substantially funded by UK Film Council.

In the August statement, Film minister Siôn Michael said the new organisation would have “both a cultural and economic remit.”

That’s already the case with UKFC -

“The UK Film Council is the Government backed lead agency for film in the UK ensuring that the economic, cultural and educational aspects of film are effectively represented at home and abroad.”

And while they’ve achieved great success in some areas, we hear there’s some ‘severe streamlining’ planned. With a resurgence in respect for what the BFI’s doing – with BFI the Southbank, Mediatheque, and the London Film Festival – and with government backing for the National Film Centre, it may be that what they’re doing is seen as a key priority for support. Though the British Library is known to be keen to get its hands on the Archive.

And as if all that wasn’t enough, there are rumours that UKFC has approached Arts Council England with a view to re-aligning their respective remits for moving image, but this isn’t officially confirmed. Media/mixed arts centres might be one area for discussion: UKFC gave £475,000 in grants to 56 independent arts venues in 2008/09, but Arts Council England has invested many millions in cinemas – FACT in Liverpool, Watershed in Bristol, Cornerhouse in Manchester and Cinema City in Norwich. It may not help that Arts Council England Chair Liz Forgan and Chief Executive Alan Davey aren’t known to be UKFC boss John Woodward’s greatest fans…

Author: Gary Thomas, editor of APEngine.

Monday, October 19, 2009 | Tagged with , , ,

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