Edinburgh International Film Festival

Source: Edinburgh International Film Festival

EIFF’s free outdoor screenings

Edinburgh International Film Festival (EIFF) is to “cease trading immediately” as its parent charity, Centre for the Moving Image (CMI), enters administration.

CMI also runs Filmhouse Cinema and Café Bar in Edinburgh and Belmont Filmhouse in Aberdeen, and was established in 2010.

A statement from the board of the CMI said: “Filmhouse Cinema and Café Bar, Edinburgh International Film Festival and Belmont Filmhouse will all cease trading with immediate effect.”

It is understood that 102 staff will be made redundant with immediate effect. A total of 107 staff were employed across all four of the CMI’s businesses. The CMI will lose 58, Filmhouse Trading – 22, Belmont Filmhouse – 20 and EIFF – 2. Five staff have been kept on to assist with the administration process.

Kristy Matheson took over as EIFF creative director in 2021, and has headed up one edition of the festival. Prior the pandemic, the festival was the longest continuously running film festival in the world, founded in 1947. 

The CMI statement explained: “The charity is facing the perfect storm of sharply rising costs, in particular energy costs, alongside reduced trade due to the ongoing impacts of the pandemic and the cost of living crisis. The combination and scale of these challenges is unprecedented and means that there was no option but to take immediate action.”

Tom MacLennan and Chad Griffin of FRP Advisory have been appointed as joint administrators. The administrators will work with Creative Scotland, City of Edinburgh Council and Aberdeen City Council to asses options for the future of the individual elements of the charity’s work and supporting staff through the process.

The joint administrators are focusing on marketing the assets for sale, including the Edinburgh Filmhouse building, and looking to transfer the brand and trademark of EIFF.

“We would like to put on record our immense gratitude to the entire staff team whose passion for film as an artform and for the audiences and communities we work with and serve has remained undented by the challenges of recent years. We’re fully aware that this will be an exceptionally stressful time for them,” said the CMI statement.

Creative Scotland confirmed that it is working towards plans for a 2023 edition of EIFF, but with a funding roadmap yet to be laid out, and no confirmation if Matheson will return as creative director. “We are saddened by the news from CMI, the loss of employment, of cultural cinema programming in Edinburgh and Aberdeen, and the impact on the Edinburgh International Film Festival,” said Creative Scotland’s statement.“We are working to explore future options for such cinema programming in both Edinburgh and Aberdeen, and for Edinburgh International Film Festival’s 2023 edition.”

Rising costs

Public funding not rising in line with inflation, coupled with the pandemic, the impact of streaming on cinema attendance and the cost of living crisis have led to what the charity describes as a “perfect storm” of factors rendering the CMI “unsustainable to continue”.

“Public funding has been at a standstill or reducing for over eight years and had been reducing in real terms value throughout that period,” said the CMI statement. “The more recent steep rise in inflationary costs reduces the real terms value even further. Additionally our funders and the Scottish Government have indicated that the outlook beyond March 2023 for public funding is highly uncertain, given the other pressures that they have, making planning beyond that point almost impossible.”

In 2022-23, the CMI received £1.07m from Creative Scotland as a Regularly Funded Organisation (three-year budget commitment from the Scottish government), £110,000 from the Scottish government’s EXPO fund and £125,000 as part of the PLACE initiative, both through Creative Scotland. The total government funds awarded in this period through Creative Scotland stand at £1.7m, behind the £2.5m of 2021-22 (that included £1.3m in Covid emergency funding) and £1.3m in 2020-21.

According to the CMI, its energy costs are set to rise approximately £200,000 over the next 12 months, even with the government’s recently announced energy price cap for businesses. CMI is also facing an increase of 10.1% in payroll costs over the next 12 months.

General cost inflation is running at between 10% and 30% for goods and services, while cinema admissions at Filmhouse and Belmont Filmhouse have been running at approximately 50% of pre pandemic levels, with concerns over future waves of Covid further impacting cinema attendance.