Temporary fund will provide financial support to “specialised” film sector for one year.

The BFI today announced the creation of a new fund called the Lottery Film Fund to support UK organisations dedicated to providing specialised and British films.

The fund, which goes live in early May 2011 (giving organisations one month in which to apply for the funding) and runs for one year only, will be available to independent cinemas, film festivals, film clubs and societies, arts centres, regional archives and other organisations that “can prove that their funding for core activities has been significantly reduced or withdrawn for the financial year 2011-12”, and as a result are unable to deliver audience development.

The new fund has been created to ease the plight of regional and national UK industry organisations which in recent months have seen the BFI’s grant in aid funding slashed by 50%, Arts Council England reduce its funding for film bodies and local councils tighten their arts spending.

Alex Stolz, senior executive distribution and exhibition, BFI, told Screen: “It’s great to be in a position to help these organisations and to sustain the work we have been doing at the UKFC and over the last few years to develop audiences for specialised and British film.”

“This is about stabilization and transition. It’s about helping these organisations bridge a gap during this tough economic climate and massive reduction in grant in aid for film. There’s going to be a new film strategy in 2012 so this is a year of transition before the landscape is decided on,” he continued.

The money has come from previously “unallocated funding”, said Stolz. “It’s money that the BFI had in its overall Lottery allocation. It’s not taking away from any other planned activity or existing funds.” (This is separate to the P&A Fund.)

Stolz confirmed that it was highly unlikely for further previously “unallocated” funding to emerge: “There are no plans afoot for further Funds to be created. These are exceptional circumstances and needs must. It was identified that there was a big problem out there and unless we acted there would be a lot of organisations really struggling.”

The creation of the new fund has been in the works over the last few months, with BFI director Amanda Nevill and the exhibition and distribution team that has moved over from the UKFC taking a lead on setting  it up.

Peter Buckingham, head of distribution and exhibition, BFI, added: “It’s critical that we ensure that audiences don’t suffer as a result of this transition period and that we enable film organisations to survive, and indeed continue to thrive, for the long term growth and development of film in the UK.”