The UK Film Council is toplough £3m of National Lottery money into a new scheme designed to increase therange of cinema-going over the next three years.

The UK Audience Development Scheme is intended to stimulate theviewing of specialised films in the UK.

The Council is looking for applicants to run an annual £1mcontract over three years to work with cinema operators, film distributors andother partners such as schools and local community groups as well as filmindustry bodies on a national, regional and local basis to put the strategyinto effect.

Groups bidding for thecontract are expected to attract significant media partners to raise awarenessamong audiences, must have a track record in audience development and educationand should be able to prove their financial and administrative competence.

The Council said the scheme should build upon the existingactivities and marketing strategies currently carried out by both filmdistributors and exhibitors.

It is also designed to complement the planned launch of theCouncil's Digital Screen Network.

Pete Buckingham, head ofdistribution and exhibition at the Film Council said: "Specialised films arenot just the preserve of the cultural elite or audiences in the West End ofLondon. Our goal is for the greatest cinema from around the world to be seen byall UK audiences and to give cinemagoers the chance to learn more about filmand film making."