The British Film Institute (bfi) is to receive one of thebiggest shake-ups in its 70-year-history.

Following a nine month internal review, chairman AnthonyMinghella and Director Amanda Nevill have announced a series of initiatives to"open up" a cultural organisation which, though widely respectedworldwide, has developed a reputation for being aloof and too reliant (inMinghella's words) on "the cultural hegemony of London."

Extra money will be invested in making the National Film andTelevision Archive more accessible to the public at large. With an eye onyouth, the Institute will be setting up a special office for 16-24 year-olds.Cities and towns across the UK will become partners in "ArchivePortals", a new network of mediatheques. On-line activities will be rampedup through "virtual bfi" which will make the bfi's film and TVdatabase available on the web within two years. The UK Film Council'sproposed digital screen network will be used to showcase bfi material.

Meanwhile, a National Partnership Office will be set up todeal directly with regional film organisations. Book and DVD publishingorganisations will be run through a specially created "tradingdivision." A 'Test Bed' Film Centre will open on London'sSouth Bank (the site of the National Film Theatre) in summer 2005 complete withfilm/art installations and exhibition areas.

"It (the bfi) is an extraordinary institution whichperhaps has been a bit of a guilty secret," Minghella told "The way the bfi has been run, it has beenquite hard to understand what it does and what it has to offer. It's notso much about changing the bfi as changing access."

The BFI's grant-in-aid, which comes from the UK FilmCouncil, has been increased by £1.5m to £16m per annum.