The British Film Institute (BFI) has launched a Programming Development Fund, worth up to $2.1m (£1.4m) a year to 2017.

The new fund is for programmers and exhibitors to bring specialised and independent British films to audiences across the UK.

The Programming Development Fund is linked to the BFI’s UK Audience Network, set to launch this autumn, which will see a range of partners across the country work together to bring 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.

Tim Cagney, deputy CEO of the BFI said: “We want audiences to develop a lifelong relationship with film and we passionately believe that everyone in the UK should be able to enjoy the very best in British and world cinema, no matter where they live.

“This fund will be a key tool for the UK’s expert programmers and exhibitors, giving them the opportunity to work with our UK Audience Network to present creative programmes of thought-provoking and inspiring films that will help audiences everywhere discover the power of great cinema.”

The fund will support different levels of activity from smaller research projects through to activity on a larger scale, with the aim to encourage bold and ambitious cross-regional projects, including some with national reach.

Projects are expected to utilise the UK Audience Network infrastructure and capitalise on programmers’ curatorial expertise and local knowledge to bring seasons of films and events to UK audiences, particularly outside London where there is less access to cultural film

The fund is also designed to complement the BFI’s Distribution Fund, which supports distributors to widen the audiences for specialised and UK independent films on a title by title basis.

Exhibition activity could include (but is not limited to):

  • programmes curated around a particular theme, genre, national cinema or geographic origin
  • major retrospectives or seasons
  • archive programmes
  • touring programmes
  • documentary or non-fiction programmes

There are three strands of funding available in the Fund:

Strand 1 is designed to support the development costs of a project which requires feasibility, testing or piloting in advance of a full project proposal. Awards will be within the range £5,000-£20,000.

Strand 2 is designed to support projects which have been fully developed and are ready for implementation. Awards will be within the range £15,000-£150,000.

Strand 3 is designed to support very large-scale projects only. The BFI expect to make a very limited number of awards under this strand each year with one application deadline in December for 2013. In future years the deadline will be in June with exact dates to be announced. Awards in this Strand will be in the range £150,000 - £500,000.

For the first two strands during this first call, applications will be assessed on a rolling basis, with a final deadline of 5pm on September 2. For the third strand, the application deadline is 5pm on December 2.

More information on application guidelines and forms can be found here