BFI cinema

Jackie Edwards, the BBC’s head of children’s acquisitions and independent animation, is joining the BFI as head of the Film Fund’s new £57m ($73m) Young Audiences Content Fund (YACF). 

In what is being called a pilot scheme, the fund wil invest up to £57m over three years in original content for children and young audiences aged up to 18 to be broadcast on the channels and platforms of the BBC, Channel 4, ITV and Channel 5, the UK’s four public service broadcasters (PSBs). 

Edwards will be based in Leeds and will report to BFI deputy CEO Ben Roberts. The two are working on the final details of the Fund which will open in April.

The Fund is part of the UK government’s Contestable Fund which has been established using unallocated funds from the licence fee settlement, the agreement the BBC reached with the goverment in 2010 to continue its funding via the licence fee, the annual amount every UK household pays to watch broadcast television. The aim is to revese the heavy decline in the spend on children’s original programming by the UK broadcasters in the past decade.

The YACF will back both live-action and animation original programming spanning genres including education, fiction, drama, arts and culture, factual, and religion. The focus will be programming that reflects the UK’s cultural identity.

Funding will be split into production support for projects which have secured a broadcast committment from one of the UK’s PSBs and development support for new voices and emerging talent for which a broadcast committment will not be required.

The BFI presently invests more than £50m ($64m) annually of National Lottery funds via the BFI Film Fund to develop and support UK filmmakers.