The UK Film Council (UKFC) and the British Film Institute (BFI) are to be merged under plans announced by Film Minister Siôn Simon today (August 20).

The Department of Culture, Media and Sport and key industry figures, including new UKFC chairman Tim Bevan, are now considering plans to create a single body that will take on the cultural and economic remit of both organisations.

A Working Group, chaired by the DCMS with equal representation from the two bodies, is now being set up to consider how a single body would be structured and how to improve its service to film by reducing gaps and overlapping. It is expected to report back by the end of the year.

It is hoped that a streamlined body would be freed up to spend more of its funding on films and frontline services and less on infrastructure, and that this in turn, would help it to better support the British film and promotion of the industry.

Simon said that the merger aims to protect the key functions of the UKFC and BFI. The new organisation’s remit would include securing investment, leading the industry through the transition to digital, championing the culture importance of the UK’s film heritage and guaranteeing the full diversity of film culture is available to everyone.

Simon added: “Supporting film to help the UK industry reach it international potential as an art form as well as a business remains as a priority for Government. That’s why we want to look at how best to direct our support. A new, streamlined body that represents the whole of the film sector will offer a better service for both film-makers and film-lovers.”

Tim Bevan, the new chairman of the UKFC, welcomed the idea and said he was keen to work closely with the BFI and DCMS over the autumn to make it happen.

He added: “We know that the climate for public funding is going to get much tougher, and it’s therefore sensible that we ask ourselves why there are two publicly funded film organisations in the UK. We need to look at the scope for savings across the board, to push as much money as we can into new film activity.”

BFI chair Greg Dyke also welcomed the move and added it was an opportunity for the body to “build on the strengths and success of our work in recent years.”