After yesterday’s sweeping cuts across the board by the UK government, it has emerged that film-sector funding outside Lottery funds and the British Film Institute (BFI) has been slashed by over 50%.

The Department of Culture Media & Sport (DCMS) has confirmed to Screen that the annual grant-in-aid budget for film in each of the next four years will be around £18.618m, down from £23.9m in the year 2010/11. After counting the BFI’s newly reduced annual budget, that leaves just £4.655m for all other film activities (excluding Lottery development/production funding which the government has pledged to maintain at current levels).
That £4.655m will have to cover:

  • inward investment and the work of the British Film Commissioner
  • National and regional screen agencies
  • research and statistics
  • film exports
  • certification (assessing which films qualify as British and are therefore eligible for Lottery funding and/or UK Film Tax Relief)
  • diversity initiatives
  • anti-piracy initiatives
  • co-production support
  • The UK MEDIA Desk activities
  • Sponsorship of work such as The UK Film Centre at Cannes

At the UKFC, these functions had a 2010/11 budget of £9.37m (that figure does include UKFC overheads).
The total grant-in-aid budget for film over the next four years will be £73.755m, of which £55.137m goes to the BFI.

Cuts had been anticipated but the 50% figure for non-BFI and non-Lottery funding is a stiff reduction and confirms the fear of many in the industry that, while Lottery funding and the tax certification are safe, other areas of the film business will suffer.
UKFC chairman Tim Bevan expressed his fears to a Parliamentary Select Committee earlier this week, saying “The UK Film Council created joined-up thinking. The great danger of the Film Council being closed down is various activities being put out to disparate bodies, and that joined-up thinking goes away.”
The challenge for the bodies which inherit these functions is to minimise the hit in funding by absorbing them into its own administration and management. (The Government says that it will announce its post-UKFC plans by the end of the year.)
Bearing in mind that the government has stressed the value of inward investment and the tax credit, the assumption is that they will remain robustly supported. Meanwhile regional screen agencies are anticipating a cut in funding along the same 15% lines as the BFI.