BFI chief executive Ben Roberts has issued a statement on the novel coronavirus outbreak amid a wave of production and festival postponements and theatre closures around the globe.
Concerns over the spread of the virus saw the UK box office take a heavy hit over the weekend as the top releases fell by at least 50% against the previous weekend.
Roberts said the BFI’s screen sector taskforce would liaise with the UK government during the crisis, and pledged the BFI’s support to ”our many industry colleagues during this fast moving and rapidly evolving situation”.
The statement read: “Covid-19 presents us with an unprecedented challenge to our business.
“We are keenly aware that the wide ranging and damaging impact of the virus is being felt across the entire industry and at every possible level.
“As the lead organisation for film, we will support our many industry colleagues during this fast moving and rapidly evolving situation, and we are in discussion with key partners, stakeholders and Government to urgently assess the scale of the short and longer term impact on business.
“We are focused on ensuring the resilience of the industry and on tackling the huge range of short to mid-term financial, cultural and societal challenges – not least to the exhibition and freelance sectors who are likely to be hit hardest most immediately by the crisis.
“The BFI is in constant communication with colleagues in Government and with other funders across the sector, to ensure we all fully understand the ramifications of the most critical issues, and help shape measures to address them.
“We have an already established Screen Sector Taskforce which will be convening to coordinate our conversation with Government and discuss the potential mitigations. We also urge practitioners across the industry and cultural sector to contact us with their key concerns and have set up an email address as a centralised point for all enquires firstname.lastname@example.org to feed into our impact response recommendations.
“As a funder, we will be as supportive and flexible as possible across existing funding arrangements, including the ability of those organisations and projects to meet contractual requirements.
“As a production financier, we are obviously supporting our filmmakers with advice on a case by case basis. They are all different projects, each case is different and complex with completely different variables, so there isn’t one size fits all guidance, and we are advising them through these very particular challenges as best we can.
“The BFI is working hard to support everyone across the sector during this extremely challenging time and we will update you with more news and information when we can.”