The BFI is to increase the role of the Film Audience Network (FAN) by devolving some talent scouting and funding decisions to local organisations.
The BFI has earmarked more than £4m of National Lottery funding per year until 2022 for exhibition strand FAN to foster greater engagement with independent and British film.
In a new move, National Lottery funding will see six BFI Network talent executives appointed in the English regional ‘Hubs’ in a bid to give greater support to new talent where they live. The Hubs are expected to launch their recruitment drives for these positions in coming weeks.
With increased decision-making responsibility, Hubs will now invest in local film festivals as well as back audience development activity, with a focus on reaching 16-30 year olds.
The BFI has restructured the boundaries of FAN’s English Hubs and changed some of the organisations heading-up the Hubs:
- Film Hub Midlands will be led by Broadway Media Centre in Nottingham working in partnership with the Birmingham-based Flatpack
- Film Hub North will be led collectively by Showroom Workstation, Sheffield, HOME, Manchester and Tyneside Cinema, Newcastle
- Film Hub South East will be led by the Independent Cinema Office in collaboration with Saffron Screen in Saffron Walden and The Depot in Lewes
- Film Hub South West will be led by Watershed in Bristol
- Film Hub Scotland will be led by Glasgow Film Theatre
- Film Hub Northern Ireland will be led by Queen’s University Belfast
- Film Hub Wales will be led by Chapter in Cardiff
- Film Hub London will be led by Film London
Changes to FAN’s geography in England see the Hubs now aligned with Arts Council England’s boundaries.
The BFI is aiming to generate more local and national collaborations for the FAN, which has more than 1,500 UK partners. As part of the drive, the network will work more closely with organisations such as Into Film and its UK-wide 10,000+ film clubs in schools, the BFI Audience Fund, and the BFI Film Academy.
Ben Roberts, director of the BFI Film Fund, said: “Central to BFI2022 is the cultivation of a richer diversity of those who are watching and making films in the UK. In BFI FAN we have a thriving network of audiences, curators and filmmakers, reaching across the whole of the UK and through all types of cultural spaces – from multiplexes through to film clubs – so by embedding a mission to develop film talent within it, we can offer an inspiring and inclusive environment where creativity can thrive. Thanks to all our partners who have worked tirelessly with us to build BFI FAN over the past five years, and welcome to our new partners; we are excited by the opportunity to connect more people across the UK with the infinite joy of film.”
Margot James, minister for digital and the creative industries, said: “It is fantastic that BFI’s Film Audience Network is expanding. A boost in its National Lottery funding will mean it can build on its success and bring diverse, independent British films to even more communities across the UK and inspire the country’s next generation of filmmakers.”
The communique issued by the BFI today does not mention Creative England, which had previously acted as a major conduit for the BFI’s regional activities.