South Bank film centre again

This memo was circulated to BFI staff yesterday:

From Nick Mason Pearson to all BFI staff, 28th February 2008:


You will recall the press coverage two or so weeks ago around the leak of a draft consultation document that announced Government’s commitments to the Arts.

DCMS has now officially published its strategy that lays out plans for how it will provide support for the creative industries in Britain. A copy of the strategy document is available to be viewed online:

The Evening Standard covered the release of the document, stating that according to the Secretary of State the BFI’s plans to build a film centre ‘are not yet viable’. This is not what was said by the SoS at the launch of the strategy, nor is it stated in the document itself. What it says is that the Government, the UK Film Council and the BFI are working closely to ensure a number of conditions can be met before we proceed.

As you know, we have already prepared a robust business case for the centre that has been approved by the LDA. DCMS is rightly showing due diligence. They are writing to the BFI this week with some additional areas they want us to look at in more detail. Also, with Greg Dyke now appointed as our new chair, we are all keen that he is given a chance to go through the business plan to understand it thoroughly.

It is important to see this as a positive sign that Government is prepared to publicly give the film centre a thumbs up once we have satisfied a number of provisos and we’ll know what those are in detail shortly.

As soon as there is more to tell we will update you.


Note – Text from the Government’s report ‘Creative Britain’ (p.68):

“DCMS recently announced £25 million for the UK Film Council which will be used to support national and regional archive. The BFI’s proposal for the building of a new film centre on London’s Southbank will allow access to the archive, the library, exhibitions and cultural film in one place and has the potential to cement Britain’s place as a major international centre for film. This proposal is at an early stage and the Government is working with the UK Film Council and the BFI to determine whether the conditions can be met to attract significant funding from public and private sources to make this project a reality and bring enjoyment, celebration and film to London and the rest of the UK. Government support is conditional upon the BFI producing a viable business plan to address these conditions.”

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