Former FilmFour deputy chief executive Peter Buckingham has been appointed as head of the Film Council's new distribution and exhibition fund.

Designed to boost the exhibition of arthouse films in the UK, the fund will have a budget of $22m (£14m) over the next four years to create a virtual circuit of screens showing arthouse films. Films playing on the circuit will be centrally booked from London, while the screens will be leased from existing exhibitors.

The move is part of a Film Council plan to boost the market for foreign language and arthouse UK films in the country.

Buckingham will join on 4 November. Simultaneously Steve Perrin, currently head of the Film Council's Research and Statistics Unit, will move across to the new distribution and exhibition fund as its deputy head.

In April this year, the Film Council unveiled a series of measures aimed at boosting the range of films on offer around the UK. As well as the $22m over four years for distribution and exhibition fund, it included $1.6m (£1m) a year to subsidise distributors' p&a costs on specialised films; $1.6m for a cinema education fund and another $1.6m for digital exhibition.

Buckingham commented: "Providing access to a more diverse range of films and taking cinema into parts of the UK that are currently lacking or are underserved will be the key challenge that Steve Perrin and I are looking forward to tackling."

Buckingham will report directly to Film Council chief executive John Woodward. Woodward said: "The aim is to build audiences for a broader range of films in the UK and will measure our success by 'bums on seats.'"

Prior to FilmFour - which over the past few months has been wound down as a standalone unit and folded back into parent company Channel 4 - Buckingham was managing director of Oasis Cinemas. He has also worked as director of film distribution for Virgin Vision.