New fund aims to bring cinema experiences and more specialised British films to communities across the UK.

The British Film Institute has launched the first phase of its BFI Neighbourhood Cinema programme, worth up to £2m ($3.25m) over the next four years to 2017.

It is aimed at supporting communities in the UK who find it a challenge to visit the cinema due to geographic, social or economic circumstances.

The initiative builds on the work of touring cinema operators across the UK which take films - and the equipment to show them - into community venues.

For phase one, which runs from February 2014 to January 2015, the BFI has allocated up to £300,000 to support these operators through the new fund. This will support new and existing touring cinema operators to bring community cinema activity, including film screenings and events, training for staff and volunteers and the licensing of films for exhibition, to areas without easy access to cinemas. 

BFI deputy CEO Tim Cagney said:”We want to encourage people to build a lifelong relationship with film, to boost audiences for a diverse range of films and ensure that film culture can be accessed and enjoyed by everyone, regardless of where they live.

“Building on the valuable work of the community cinema sector and organisations including the British Federation of Film Societies, the launch of BFI Neighbourhood Cinema marks an exciting stage in the roll out of Film Forever further helping  communities across the length and breadth of the UK to enjoy the richness of the cinematic experience.”

BFI Neighbourhood Cinema forms part of the BFI’s £22m UK Audience Fund, which brings partners together to deliver diverse film experiences to as many people as possible.

As set out in its Film Forever five-year plan, the BFI aims to increase the size, diversity and geographic spread of audiences viewing specialised and independent British films and BFI Neighbourhood Cinema is seen as important to achieving this goal.

The application deadline for the BFI Neighbourhood Cinema: Pilot Fund for Touring Cinema Initiatives is Jan 10, 2014.

Application guidelines and forms can be downloaded here